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Parties & Openings

July 16 - Red Hook
Bard's SummerScape Gala

July 14 - Richmond
WAM's Stars in the Orchard

July 11 - Pittsfield
Kids 4 Harmony Concert

The 2016 SummerScape Gala: The Spirit Of Montgomery Place

Amy Krzanik reports from Red Hook. The evening of Saturday, July 16 was, by turns, exhilarating, hilarious, touching, peaceful and joyous. The 2016 SummerScape Gala, a benefit for Bard College’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, took advantage of the newest addition to the school’s campus, and held the event on the grounds of Montgomery Place. Amid breathtaking Hudson River views, notable names from the page, the stage, the screen, the canvas and the runway mingled over “Mott & Mulberry” and “Orchard Fix” cocktails created by New York City mixologist Leo Robitschek. Bard alum Blythe Danner and fellow actors Parker Posey, Mary Stuart Masterson and Mx. Justin Vivian Bond performed a whimsical skit to honor the past matriarchs of the mansion, its gardens and its orchards. A true highlight of the evening followed, as ballet star Sergei Polunin, making a rare stateside appearance, gave a world premiere live performance of his 2015 internet video hit. Directed by David La Chapelle and set to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” the video has been viewed more than 15 million times on YouTube and is credited with renewing Polonin’s passion for dance. After giving a round of thunderous applause, guests made their way to a tent strung with lanterns, to enjoy dinner designed by chef Rocco DiSpirito, a James Beard Award winner and best-selling author. The gala is the Fisher Center’s largest annual fundraising event, and supports the College’s commitment to the performing arts, which it sees as a cultural and educational necessity. 

Bard College president Leon Botstein with Matthew Davidson, Joan K. Davidson and Amy Davidson; Fisher Center advisory board member Felicitas Thorne and chef Rocco DiSpirito.

Nathan Milikowsky, Rebecca Gold and writer/actress Joan Juliet Buck; Paulo and board member Denise Simon with Helena and Christopher Gibbs.

Designer Bibhu Mohapatra, Lopa Mohanty, artist Ramon Lascano, artist Bobby Beard, gala co-chair Carolyn Marks Blackwood, Benjamin Krevolin, Heather Croner and gala co-chair Greg Quinn.

Conductor/composer Johan de Meij and journalist Dyan Machan; playwright Moises Kaufman, actress/director Mary Stuart Masterson and writer/producer Jeffrey LaHoste.

Betsy Ely, Steve Dawson, Leonard Steinberg and Thom Coughlin; Catherine Michaelson with Bob and Joan Costa.

Sergei Polunin sits on stage at the beginning of his performance.

Gideon Lester, Jack Ferver and Alicia Davis; Ginny and Sandy Friedman.

Caroline Kronqvist, Foster Reed and Michele Platt; a string trio entertains the crowd during cocktail hour.

Parker Posey, Mx. Justin Vivian Bond and Blythe Danner perform a skit, with choreographer Jack Ferver looking on.

The breathtaking views from the back and front of the mansion.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/17/16 at 09:42 PM • Permalink

Kids4Harmony Benefit Strikes A Chord For 400-Plus Supporters

Lisa Green reports from Pittsfield. Kids 4 Harmony, the free after-school music program established by Berkshire Children and Families, has become one of the city’s most beloved causes to champion. In fact, so many supporters wanted to attend the benefit reception and concert on Monday, July 11 at the Country Club of Pittsfield, that organizers had to cut off reservations. Now in its fifth year, the Kids 4 Harmony program unites families and communities in a quest for musical excellence and social and economic success. It’s obviously working: from the beginning string players to the accomplished students who were the first to join the program, the young musicians exhibited poise, confidence and musicality. After they performed, renowned pianist Emanuel Ax joined them in a movement of a piano quintet, then Ax performed a solo piece as a finale. The “Concert 4 Harmony” was dedicated in memory of violinist/conductor Joseph Silverstein, who was a friend, mentor and supporter of the program. [Above, Artistic Director Alicia Stevenson poses with some of the “Kids.”]

Betsy Selkowitz, who is on the Kids 4 Harmony advisory committee, and Marilyn Kirby; Berkshire Children and Families President and CEO Carolyn Mower Burns and harpist Elizabeth Morse.

Lesley Oransky and Tracy Wilson, director of the Berkshire Music School and a member of the advisory committee.

Corrigan Wright and Brenda Hart, mother and grandmother of one of the musical Kids; Erik Holmgren and Rodrigo Guerrero, representing the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Advisory committee member Dottie Weber, Stephen Weber, Eli Newberger, co-chair of the advisory committee, and Carolyn Newberger, a member of the board of directors; Tatiana Cruz and Raul Castillo, “family members” who have children in Kids 4 Harmony.

Pianist Emanuel Ax with the Pittsfield Kids 4 Harmony group and teaching artists at rehearsal. Photo: Sean Eligers.

Conductor and cellist Ron Feldman with Adrienne Silverstein; clarinetist Paul Green, Hilary Respass, executive director of The Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and David Krauss, principal trumpet of the MET Orchestra.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/17/16 at 05:30 PM • Permalink

The Stars Come Out For WAM Theatre

Rachel Louchen reports from Richmond. The forecast may have predicted severe thunderstorms but from the enthusiastic turnout, it was clear that WAM Theatre’s benefit cocktail party would have gotten a draw regardless of the weather. Under bright blue skies, Stars in the Orchard returned for a second year on Thursday, July 14, again at Hilltop Orchards. The event featured a raffle, silent auction, and live auction. A major fundraiser for the philanthropic theater company, it was also an opportunity for founder and artistic director Kristin van Ginhoven [left, with Hilltop Orchards owner John Vittori] to announce that Berkshire Immigrant Center and Suzi Banks Baum (for her Armenian female empowerment project) will be the 2016 beneficiaries of WAM’s production of “The Bakelite Masterpiece” in the fall. In true WAM fashion, the evening included performances by Girls Inc. and festive music provided by the Expandable Brass Band. And apple cider doughnuts, of course.

Alyssa Wright, a WAM development comittee member, with William Wright; Siena Gamberoni and Iris Courchaine performed with the Girls Inc. ensemble.

Philanthropy and Outreach Coordinator Gwendolyn Tunnicliffe and board member Vicky May with Greylock Federal Credit Union sponsors Jaime Moncecchi and Kent Hudson; WAM volunteers Shiffra Perlmutter and Karen Richards.

Peter Jeffrey and Carla Weiss; Richard and Abby Tovell of T Square Design Studio.

Jessica Provenz , who helped coordinate last year’s event, with strategic planning committee member Bruce Garlow and his brother, Tamarack Garlow.

Yuki Cohen and Lauren Ferin; Brooke Mead, Brian Harrison and Joni Thomas.

Longtime WAM supporter Susie Roeder and Hope Fitzgerald; Tereza Hubkova, Chris Buono and Alexandra Heddinger.

Lawyer Ethan Klepetar, Jayme Kurland, Julia Dixon and Todd Trebour; WAM’s artistic associate Molly Clancy and Rebecka McDougall, who volunteered at the event.

Bill and Sue Lyon with Freda Grim, associate producer.

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Posted by Rachel Louchen on 07/15/16 at 09:35 AM • Permalink

The Spirit Of ‘66 Enchants Olana On Its 50th Birthday

Amy Krzanik reports from Hudson. Cloudy skies and a little drizzle of a rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the 300 or so attendees of Olana State Historic Site’s 50th birthday gala on Saturday, July 9. When not under tents, guests popped umbrellas to protect their duds, many of them harkening back to the fashions of the year Olana was saved from destruction. Adorable 1960s-inspired nibbles from Gaskins, Panzer, Wm. Farmer & Sons, Café Le Perche, The Corner at Hotel Tivoli and other Hudson Valley eateries were a big hit, along with freshly shucked oysters from Other Brother Darryl’s and libations courtesy of Fairview Wine & Spirits. DJ Javier Peral hand-picked (literally, all music was “of the times” from LPs played on turntables) the best tunes from the decade to keep the crowd swinging. Proceeds from the summer soiree support the site and its wide-ranging, year-round programming for students, visitors, artists and scholars. [Above, Trixie Starr, Michael Susi, Olana president Sean Sawyer and trustee Janet Schnitzer.]

Trustee Kay Toll with David Diamond, trustee Karen Zukowski and Maynard Toll, a trustee of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site; Janett Pabon and Chef Devon Gilroy of The Corner at Hotel Tivoli.

Architect Thomas Krizmanic, David Melgar and Olana’s landscape curator Mark Prezorski; Rickey Shaum with Catherine Lark and Ricky Lark, who are related to Sally Church, the last family member to inhabit the estate at Olana.

Annie Digiovanna and Taylor Schultz; Jack Pickering, Joan K. Davidson, Elaine Koss and artist Gene Debartolo.

Soon-to-be newlyweds Keven Brunk and Jessyka Neitzel.

Board treasurer Rick McCarthy with Eileen and Jay Wallace, Jean Hamilton and Lisa Fox Martin, the board chair of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site; Matt McGhee and Ronald Kopnicki.

DeWayne Powell, Tim Legg and Doug Wingo; Rebecca Wagner, Steven Levine and Emily McLaughlin.

Olana’s interim director of collections and research, Valerie Balint, with its education coordinator Elizabeth Schanz and volunteer Barbara Stevens; DJ Javier Peral spins tunes (on real vinyl!) for the crowd.

Joseph Garry and Olana National Advisory Committee member Barry Harwood; Trixie Starr and Sean Sawyer strike a pose in front of the gorgeous vista.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/11/16 at 10:29 AM • Permalink

Opening Night A Gala Event At Shakespeare & Company

Lisa Green reports from Lenox. “We don’t normally have a gala on opening night,” admitted Tina Packer, Shakespeare & Company’s founding artistic director on Sunday, July 10.  But The Merchant of Venice, with its controversial mix of bigotry and humor, gave the gala attendees plenty to discuss at the cocktail hour, intermission and the dinner that followed. This is the company’s 39th performance season (and the Bard’s 400th anniversary), and The Merchant of Venice is the first production presented in-the-round at the Tina Packer Playhouse. (“Very Elizabethan,” said Packer, who directed it). Following the performance, guests raised their glasses — filled with Portia’s Potion, the drink of the night — and toasted to the cast and team. Proceeds raised from the evening help fund Shakespeare & Company’s internationally recognized Fall Festival program, in which high school students mount productions of Shakespeare’s plays. Above, artistic directors Ariel Bock and Jonathan Croy look on as Tina Packer thanks the donors for their support. 

Bella Merlin, who plays Nerissa in The Merchant of Venice, and Londoner Miles Anderson; Eda Sorokoff and Stephen Sorokoff of Broadway World.

Rhea Werner and Ken Werner, chair of the board of trustees; Kevin Coleman, S&Co.‘s director of education; Marjorie Shapiro and Barry Shapiro, vice chair of the board.

Govane Lohbauer, costume director; Mary Abbruzzese, Bob Lohbauer, weapons master; and Dan Abbruzzese; Kate Millonzi and Ariel Bock.

Katherine Barton, Hugo Malpeyre, a director in France; Elizabeth Aspenlieder, who served as associate director for this production; and Kris Stone, the set designer.

Fiber and mixed-media artist Wendy Rabinowitz and The Berkshire Eagle’s Jeffrey Borak, who was there to review the production; Kenneth Rainey, costume design assistant, with Noa Egozi, assistant director.

Betsy Lee Workman, who owns La Pace, now in Lenox; drama critic and playwright Terry Teachout and Hilary Teachout; and Arthur Oliver, who is a costume designer; New Yorkers Peter Smith and Gillian Smith.

Alice Anne Schwab, executive director of the Susquehanna Art Museum, Bob Garrett, Mim Warden, Asia Berger and Ted Berger.

Freelance journalist Ryan Leeds, Tina Packer and Pete Sanders; Guests enjoyed Portia’s Potion (named for the character in The Merchant of Venice), an elixir of Berkshire Mountain Distillers Premium Vodka, triple sec and cranberry juice, rimmed with golden sugar dust.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/11/16 at 10:11 AM • Permalink

A Fandango For Nancy Fitzpatrick Courtesy Of IS183

Amy Krzanik reports from Lenox. Red Lion Inn owner and Berkshire County philanthropist Nancy Fitzpatrick dispensed a bit of advice to the crowd gathered in her honor at Stonover Farm on Thursday evening, July 7. “You don’t have to do it all at once,” she said. “All you have to do is a little bit each year, and it adds up to a lot.” She was talking mainly about her involvement in starting IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, who threw the gala to honor her and to celebrate its 25th anniversary, but she just as likely could’ve been alluding to her goal of walking across the entire United States, or to life itself. IS18, a nonprofit community art school offering classes for children and adults, has been known to throw some of the most creative and visually lavish parties in the county—and this one didn’t disappoint—but Thursday’s “Fitzpatrick Fandango” was the first to acknowledge the work of one person. But Nancy isn’t just any person, as the packed house of friends, family and fellow board members attested. Guests gladly raised their paddles to bid in the live auction and to give dollar amounts so the school can continue to offer art-making classes to help improve the lives of over 1,000 local schoolchildren each year. In true Berkshire County farm-to-table style, a wonderful dinner of local meats, cheeses, vegetables and fruits was prepared on site by Chef Brian Alberg of Main Street Catering. Here’s three cheers – or, heck, 25 cheers – to Nancy. (Stay tuned for IS183’s big birthday bash in October.)

IS183 board chairman Andy Foster with the guest of honor, and the school’s executive director Hope Sullivan; the animated Yo-Yo Ma with Stonover Farm co-owner Tom Werman.

Former First Lady of Massachusetts Diane Patrick with Kripalu trustees Marcia Feuer and Joan Kopperl; Melissa Bigarel, Jane Iredale and Judy Ney.

Bruno Quinson, Daniel Osman, Hope Sullivan and artist Peggy Rivers; Joyce Bernstein and Larry Rosenthal.

Nancy and her husband, photographer Lincoln Russell [seated], pose with family on the lawn before the festivities.

IS183’s Carrie Wright and her husband, photographer Bill Wright, who wore a safety vest in homage to the one Nancy wears when she “takes a hike”; the school’s ceramics studio manager, Jared Gelormino, with trustee Adrienne Miesmer.

Trustee Tracy Foster, Jonathan Swartz, Sarah Eustis, Anne-Juliette Maurice and Stonover co-owner Suky Werman; Marilyn Hayward, Oliver Curme and Kim Noltemy.

Yuna Asriyan and Deanna McGrath; Roshni Rama and John Snyder pose with the guest of honor.

William Caligari, board vice chair Jennifer Trainer Thompson, Hope Sullivan and Pascale Delfosse.

Carolina Palermo Schulze and Spencer Zahn; painter Stephen Hannock, Nancy and Joan Hunter.

Magician Adam Cardone entertains the crowd; as the sun went down, the cones began to glow inside the barn.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/10/16 at 10:35 PM • Permalink

Wilderstein’s Community Spirit Soars On The Hudson

Rachel Louchen reports from Rhinebeck. A rare gray summer day still provided stellar views of the Hudson River from Wilderstein Historic Site. On Saturday, July 9, the former home of the Suckley family — famously Margaret “Daisy” Suckley, a cousin of Franklin D. Roosevelt — held its annual Summer Celebration fundraiser for the 15th consecutive year. More impressive than the long-range views of the water is the historic home itself, built in 1852 and majorly renovated to an elaborate Queen Anne mansion in 1888. While the exterior is grand, the interior still evokes the comfortable feeling of a home (albeit a stately one), which no doubt is due to the constant care and genuine devotion it receives from the board and volunteers. “This isn’t federally funded. Or state. It’s all us, it’s the people,” explained Valerie Dampeer, a longtime supporter and wife of the current board president, summing up what is truly special about Rhinebeck’s beloved institution. The restoration project of the circa-1890 potting shed, to be completed at the end of this year, was dedicated to the memory of two of those special citizens, Martha and Frank Reardon, who were instrumental over the years—Martha served as docent, board member and landscape volunteer, and Frank as the chief volunteer groundsman. The main fundraiser of the year saw a large turnout complete with live music, croquet matches, house tours, a silent auction and lots of garden party hats. [Above, Alex Sherwin, grandson of Martha and Frank Reardon, and Michael Reardon, their son, flank Linda Watson, wife of Wilderstein’s head curator.]

Mark Fitzgerald, Valerie Dampeer and Geoff Dampeer; Karen Silverman and Nick Jones.

Jack Dean and Jim Calimano; Isobel Usawicz and Daniel Baxter.

Wilderstein’s curator Duane Watson, Mike Brewer, Marion Mathison and Sue Cornwall.

Martha Toomey and Renata Frommert, who serves as a docent at Wilderstein; string players Helena Baillie, Reina Murooka and Shai Lev.

Elizabeth and Matthew Bradford; current Wilderstein board president Lyell Dampeer with former board president Steven Connell.

Yvonne Paulin and realtor Arielle Curtin enjoy the river views from the best spot on the lawn.

Vicki Haak and Dede McKibbin; Lois Winston with Wilderstein docent Amy Scorca.

Melissa Macaluso, Julie Hardinger and Adam Hardinger pose in front of a classic Packard; Allison Sokarisand Michael Amsden.

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Posted by Rachel Louchen on 07/09/16 at 10:49 PM • Permalink

Berkshire Theatre Group Toasts To Billy’s 111th Birthday

Amy Krzanik reports from Stockbridge. If you were anywhere near Main Street in Stockbridge on Saturday evening, July 2, you may have heard the tooting of party horns and a chorus of voices singing “Happy Birthday.” The birthday boy was former Berkshire Theatre Group artistic director Billy Miles and it was his 111th, although he wasn’t there — under a tent outside of the Fitzpatrick Main Stage — to celebrate. But don’t worry, there were plenty of theatre fans there and his birthday cake did not go to waste. Before an evening performance of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, supporters gathered at a reception featuring a Southern-inspired menu that included cornbread topped with pulled pork and slaw, among other snacks created for the occasion by Chef Brian Alberg. The evening’s signature drink was the mint julep. Miles’ daughters, Mary Ann Miles and Elizabeth Miles Montgomery, were not only present at the event, but shared some fascinating background information about their father’s career and even blew out the candles on his birthday cake at the post-show festivities. Miles, who served as artistic director from 1935-1958, oversaw productions starring Ethel Barrymore, Tallulah Bankhead, Lillian Gish, Thornton Wilder, Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton and many other huge names. Proceeds will benefit Berkshire Theatre Group’s Festival Archives. [Above, one of the play’s stars, Rebecca Brooksher, with BTG’s artistic director and CEO, Kate Maguire.

Joseph Melillo, Ashlei Perkins, the assistant to the artistic director, and Kathy Jo Grover, the front of house manager; Hans Morris with Bridget Fawcett.

Event committee and board member Hilary Deely, Phil Deely, photojournalist Lionel Delevingne and Judith Wilkinson; Barbara Alibozek, Gene Dellea and BTG board president Ruth Blodgett.

RI publisher Mark Williams with Kate Morris; BTG staff offered champagne toasts to the crowd post show.

Carrie Wright, Hilary Deely and Rebecca Weinman; designer Carl Sprague, Elizabeth Miles Montgomery [seated], artist Anne Auberjonois, professor Sebastian Bonner and Robin Montgomery.

Billy’s 111th birthday cake; the scene inside the tent after the performance was festive, indeed.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/03/16 at 11:12 PM • Permalink