Berkshire Cultural Highlights August 31-Sept 5

The highlights of the weekend’s entertainment include the ever-popular Parsons Dance, returning to PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., the extended run of The Belle of Amherst, a one-woman show about Emily Dickinson, at Triple Shadow in East Otis, Mass.; the annual Labor Day Weekend Jazz Festival at Tanglewood featuring an abundance of female talent this year; and the world premiere of Williamstown playwright Chris Newbound’s Birthday Boy at Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass.

 

 

PARSONS DANCE RETURNS TO THE TENT AT PS21

Parsons Dance

Parsons Dance

New York City-based Parsons Dance – noted for its uplifting, athletic, engaging contemporary style that often commissions new scores by contemporary composers, including Dave Matthews, Steely Dan, Juan Garcia Esquival, Michael Gordon of Bang on a Can, John Corigliano, and Phil Woods, as well as such standbys as Bach, Schubert, and Rossini – performs at The Tent at PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century, in Chatham, N.Y., on Saturday and Sunday, September 3 and 4, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. The weekend’s program, the sixth consecutive summer appearance for the Parsons company at PS21, includes dances set to music by Miles Davis, Astor Piazzolla and Brazil’s Milton Nascimento, as well as the group’s signature piece, Caught, set to an electronic score by Robert Fripp and featuring more than 100 leaps in six minutes by a solo dancer who is repeatedly trapped in mid-motion by strobe lights to create an illusion of flight.

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EMILY DICKINSON PORTRAYED IN ONE-WOMAN SHOW

Mari Andrejco portrays Emily Dickinson in Triple Shadow's 'Belle of Amherst'
Mari Andrejco portrays Emily Dickinson in Triple Shadow’s ‘Belle of Amherst’

Triple Shadow’s site-specific, indoor/outdoor adaptation of William Luce’s one-woman play, The Belle Of Amherst, performed by Mari Andrejco as Emily Dickinson and directed by Beth Skinner, is extending its run through Sunday, September 4, due to popular and critical acclaim. The unique location of the production, at Triple Shadow’s Performance Barn and Garden in East Otis, Mass., enhances the audience’s experience of Andrejco’s portrayal of Dickinson, in a setting not unlike the one where she lived in nearby Amherst.

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WATERCOLORIST CAPTURES NEW ENGLAND’S UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE

'Hurry! ' by Peter Hussey

'Hurry! ' by Peter Hussey

After seventeen years as a corporate fundraiser, Peter Hussey traded his gray flannel suit for an easel and became a full time watercolor artist. He succeeded in his new craft by painting the things he knew and liked best – the architectural details of old New England buildings. As a frustrated architect, he found his inspiration in the doorways, stairways, cupolas, rooftops, widows’ watches and gables on Shingle Style homes along the Rhode Island coast. He built his considerable reputation on his ability to compose compelling architectural subjects and to paint their surfaces – stone, brick, clapboards, slate, copper or wood – in a thoroughly life-like way. The Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, Mass., will present a solo show of watercolor paintings by Hussey beginning with an opening reception on Saturday, September 3, from 5 to 7. The exhibition runs through September 28.

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WOMEN JAZZ IT UP at TANGLEWOOD

Vocalist Robin McKelle

Vocalist Robin McKelle

This year’s Tanglewood Jazz Festival is highlighted by Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalists Dianne Reeves and Angélique Kidjo, genre-defying vocalist Lizz Wright, NEA Jazz Masters Jimmy Cobb and Gunther Schuller, Judy Carmichael of NPR’s Jazz Inspired, Hollywood actress and vocalist Blythe Danner, the legacy-bearing Mingus Orchestra, Afro-Latin percussionist John Santos with the John Santos Sextet, jazz/classical crossover violinist Federico Britos and the Federico Britos Sextet, boogie-woogie pianist Michael Kaeshammer with eclectic vocalist Robin Mckelle, San Francisco legend Mary Stallings, and many others. The 24th annual Tanglewood Jazz Festival runs from Friday, September 2 to Sunday, September 4.

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WILLIAMSTOWN WRITER’S PLAY HAS WORLD PREMIERE STAGING at BTF

Keira Naughton

Keira Naughton

The comic drama Birthday Boy by Chris Newbound, of Williamstown, Mass., will have its world premiere in the Unicorn Theatre at Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass., beginning Tuesday, August 30. 2011, running through Saturday, September 3. The play will then reopen on Thursday, September 29 and run through Sunday, October 16. The cast includes Nick Dillenburg, Tara Franklin, James Ludwig and Keira Naughton. The piece is directed by Wes Grantom. As Matt nears his fortieth birthday, he finds himself at a crossroads in his life. His wife, Arianne, wants to take a mud season vacation to Vermont. His job is safe, though far from stimulating. When he begins a flirtation with a comely colleague, he finds himself discovering just how absurd everyday life can be. Birthday Boy provides a comic look at marriage, life and growing older.

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JOHNNY IRION PAYS TRIBUTE TO COUNTRY LEGEND at CASTLE STREET CAFE

Johnny Irion

Johnny Irion

If, as they say, it’s true that the Velvet Underground only sold 1,000 albums in its time, but everyone who bought one formed a rock band, then the same can probably be said for country-rock legend Gram Parsons, who is much more talked about than he was ever heard. The Berkshires’ own Johnny Irion, who is influenced by plenty of Americana legends, will be paying tribute to Parsons’s musical legacy on Monday,  September 5, at 8, in a special concert at the Castle Street Cafe, where he’ll be joined by Matt Downing and Pete Adams.

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ENSEMBLE to PLAY BEETHOVEN, DEBUSSY, PIAZZOLLA

The Arabella Ensemble with Christian Steiner

The Arabella Ensemble with Christian Steiner

The Los Angeles-based Arabella Ensemble performs music of Debussy, Clarke, Piazzolla and Beethoven on Saturday, September 3, 2011, at 8pm in the Concerts at Tannery Pond series on the grounds of Darrow School in New Lebanon, N.Y. For this concert, the group will be joined by series artistic director Christian Steiner, who will play piano on the Beethoven Trio No. 1 in E flat major. The program for the concert also includes Claude Debussy’s Piano Trio in G major; Rebecca Clarke’s Piano Trio; and Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons for Piano Trio.

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CELEBRATING BOOKS THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY

With more than 20 authors, 2,000 book lovers expected to attend, and 10,000 books for sale, Spencertown (N.Y.) Academy Arts Center’s Festival of Books truly earns its name as a festival. This is no mere book sale, but a celebration of all things literary. The sixth annual event takes place this coming Labor Day weekend, September 3-5, 2011. The Festival features three days of free readings and book signings by nationally known and local authors, a giant used book sale, a book-themed gallery exhibition, and children’s events – including visits from favorite storybook characters Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

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