A selective, curatorial view of the cultural highlights of the upcoming weekend in the greater Berkshire region.
(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Godspeed You! Black Emperor brings its magnificent blend of classical minimalism and post-rock to the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA in a multimedia concert on Saturday, March 10, at 8pm.
Founded in Montreal in the early 1990s, Godspeed’s “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven” is hailed as a modern post-rock classic. Their latest, “Luciferian Towers,” offers a melodic maturity that transcends even as it rumbles in the shadow of capitalism, climate change, and political violence.
Often described as instrumental post-rock, Godspeed You! Black Emperor fuses “Ennio Morricone, minimalism, found sound, and metal-inflected noise” (Pitchfork) to create tracks that vibrate with anxious calm before crashing into thundering storms or soaring crescendos.
(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – Five-time Grammy Award-winning a cappella ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo brings its unique South African-style choral music to the Colonial on Friday, March 9, at 8pm. Having first gained international attention via its participation in Paul Simon’s landmark “Graceland” album and tour, the group was named South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the world by Nelson Mandela.
The Grammy Award-winning acappella ensemble, Ladysmith Black Mambazo captures South Africa’s historic struggle in an inspiring repertoire that melds the tradition of Zulu harmony, singing songs born in the mines during the apartheid era, with hints of gospel. The choir creates beautiful harmonies that have brought its unique sound to international prominence. The rich uplifting sounds and effortlessly synchronized dancing convey universal themes of faith, hope and peace, yielding a performance of pure, uninhibited joy.
(SOUTH EGREMONT, Mass.) – Singer and multi-instrumentalist Rene Lopez brings his self-styled electric Latin soul to the Barn at the Egremont Village Inn on Saturday, March 10, at 8pm. Lopez inherited a rich modern Latin music tradition from his father, renowned salsa musician Rene Lopez, Sr., but over the past 20 years he has built a legacy of his own, blurring lines between funk, hip-hop, rock, jazz, EDM, and pop while, along the way, working with a diverse roster of icons.
(SPENCERTOWN, N.Y.) – Hudson Valley-based instrumental quartet NEQ brings its unique blend of original compositions, improvisations, and renditions of classic rock and jazz tunes to Spencertown Academy on Saturday, March 10, at 7:30pm.
NEQ plays rock, Americana, Afro-Cuban, classical, funk, and ethnic grooves, engaging the listener with a dynamic sound and a collision of musical styles. The NEQ concert in Spencertown will feature original music as well as instrumental arrangements of cover material, drawn from multiple genres including rock (Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane”), pop (Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman”), Latin jazz (Dizzy Gillespie’s and Chano Pozo’s “Soul Sauce”), classical (Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez”), and others. The group’s original compositions also incorporate multiple genres while presenting a cohesive, unique sensibility.
Led by guitarist Todd Nelson (Fear of Strangers, Aimee Mann, Lonesome Val, Jules Shear) and built on the foundation of the trio NEQ that includes bassist Kyle Esposito and drummer Manuel Quintana, the five-piece group includes Mike Kelley on keyboards and Carlos Valdez on percussion. “Where others hear differences, we hear similarities and take advantage of the cross currents that have always existed in music,” says Nelson.
(KINGSTON, N.Y.) – Visionary art-rocker and legendary Talking Heads frontman David Byrne brings his new, 12-piece band – featuring Hudson Valley soul singer Simi Stone – to UPAC on Saturday, March 10, at 8pm, to perform a retrospective of his 40-year music career, including Talking Heads favorites plus tunes from his brand-new album, “American Utopia.” Byrne himself says, “This is the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for ‘Stop Making Sense,’ so fingers crossed.” This concert sold out in advance almost completely to Bardavon members. It turns out membership really does have its privileges.
(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) – Operas by Stravinsky, John Harbison, and Ana Sokolovic will be given full stagings by singers from the Graduate Vocal Arts Program accompanied by the Bard College Conservatory Orchestra on Friday, March 9, at 7:30pm and Sunday, March 11, at 3pm in the Fisher Center at Bard College. Directed by Alison Moritz, the program presents a luminous triple bill of operatic rarities exploring the rites and rituals of marriage, including Pulcinella by Igor Stravinsky, Full Moon in March by John Harbison, and Svadba by Ana Sokolovic.
Director Alison Moritz writes, “Each act of this triptych highlights a different traditional style or trope used by Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes: Pulcinella (a neoclassical commedia dell’arte); Full Moon in March (inspired by popular ballets based on exotic themes and characters such as Cléopâtre, Schéhérazade, and Thamar); and Svadba (a twist combining the country girls of Les Sylphides with the shocking paganism of The Rite of Spring.) More than just an exercise in style, these three operas all ask the same central question: Why do we make art?”
The program will be sung by Eric Finbarr Carey, tenor; Mark Chan, baritone; Jonathon Comfort, baritone; Elaine Daiber, soprano; Rachel Doehring, soprano; SarahAnn Duffy, mezzo-soprano; Addie Rose Forstman, soprano; Angela Hendryx, soprano; Zoe Johnson ’16, soprano; Luke MacMillan, baritone; Sun-Ly Pierce, mezzo-soprano; Chloë Schaaf, mezzo-soprano; Paulina Swierczek, soprano; Natalie Trumm, soprano; and Seol Ah Yoo, soprano.
(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – Sopranos Shelley Roberts, Nellie Rustick, and Julie Rumbold will perform solos, duets, and trios in “Opera Notte: The Three Sopranos” at the Whitney Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 10, at 8pm. Rustick will perform Vissi d’Arte from Puccini’s “Tosca.”
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – New Orleans funk-jam outfit Dumpstaphunk – featuring two members of the first family of New Orleans funk, the Nevilles – brings its deep grooves and soulful melodies to Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday, March 10, at 9pm. Founded by keyboardist Ivan Neville – son of famed vocalist Aaron Neville and himself a member of the Neville Brothers band – Dumpstaphunk stands out among New Orleans’ best. Neville drafted his cousin Ian Neville for guitar duty, Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III for dueling basslines, and Alvin Ford Jr. on drums, resulting in one of the funkiest bands to ever arise from the Crescent City.
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – The world-renowned Merlin and Polina Shepherd Klezmer Duo brings its innovative blend of world music, jazz, classical, Islamic, Russian, Yiddish, and klezmer sounds to Club Helsinki Hudson on Sunday, April 8, at 7pm, as part of the Rogovoy Salon, the music and literary series curated and hosted by cultural journalist and music critic Seth Rogovoy.
This concert by the UK-based, international virtuosos caps a day-long celebration of a milestone in host Seth Rogovoy’s life and will likely include appearances by surprise special-guest artists. Come out and help celebrate with Seth and the assembled crowd of family, friends, and music lovers.
(WEST STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – “30under30:2,” a multimedia exhibition featuring works by 30 young artists hailing from or currently living in or around the Berkshires, is on view at No. Six Depot Gallery now through April 20. Artists represented include Isabella Tobiason, Dana Piazza, Fiona McTeigue, Wes Elliot, Erin Potter, Fiona Wood, Olivia Wade, Lee Blackmer, Rebecca van der Meulen, Sam Backhaus, Ruslan Sprague, and Molly Ann Almeida. The exhibition is curated by Mika Mintz.