Berkshire Cultural Weekend Preview July 22-24

With the summer season in full force, the choices for theater, dance, and music lovers are abundant this weekend, ranging from New Orleans legend Dr. John at the Mahaiwe to the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA to the BSO at Tanglewood to bluesman Eric Bibb at Club Helsinki to zoe | juniper at Jacob’s Pillow to more plays than you can shake a stick at at the region’s many theaters. Or, you could just let ArtBerkshires curate your entire weekend of art and entertainment for you.

 

THE MAHAIWE IS THE RIGHT PLACE for DR JOHN

Dr. John

Dr. John

 

Dr. John and the Lower 911 will perform on Saturday, July 23, at 8, at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Mass.. A 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, Jr., better known by the stage name Dr. John, is an American musical icon, in many ways the living incarnation of New Orleans musical tradition, but also a pianist, singer and performer whose music has ranged from funk to jazz to blues to jam-band to Tin Pan Alley pop standards.

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BANG ON A CAN CELEBRATES a DECADE at MASS MoCA

A gallery performance from Bang on a Can's 2010 Summer Music Festival (courtesy MASS MoCA)

A gallery performance from Bang on a Can's 2010 Summer Music Festival (courtesy MASS MoCA)

From now through Saturday, July 30, 2011, Bang on a Can and MASS MoCA present the tenth annual Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass. The festival is dedicated entirely to programming today’s most innovative new music and includes public performances, recitals, and lectures, plus workshops for participants in everything from Balinese music to improvisation, master classes, music business seminars, and more. As PBS’s NewsHour reported, “If Tanglewood – classical music’s far better known summer festival, just 30 miles down the road – is the bastion of tradition, ‘Banglewood’ – as the folks here like to call this gathering – is home to the experimental, with everything from a contemporary duet to a Balinese monkey chant.” This Saturday night, July 23, features a concert dedicated to the music of minimalist composer John Adams.

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ZOE | JUNIPER AT THE PILLOW

Zoe Scofield (photo zoe | juniper)

Zoe Scofield (photo zoe | juniper)

Choreographer Zoe Scofield and visual artist Juniper Shuey, co-directors of the Seattle-based company zoe | juniper, return to Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass., to perform the world premiere of A Crack in Everything from Wednesday, July 20 through Sunday, July 24. Created in part during a Creative Development Residency at Jacob’s Pillow, A Crack in Everything – whose title is presumably taken from the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem,” itself a reference to the Kabbalistic concept of Creation — combines dance with video projection to present a multimedia experience. Choreographed for both physical and virtual environments, five dancers incorporate onstage action with movement performed on video. The work uses the Greek tragedy The Oresteia as a lens to understand the emotional spectrum of revenge and retaliation.

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TANGLEWOOD FEATURES BAROQUE, BEETHOVEN, BRAHMS AND RAVEL BY THIBAUDET

Susan Graham (photo by Dario Acosta)

Susan Graham (photo by Dario Acosta)

Young Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts Friday, July 22, as he and the orchestra are joined by renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham for an all-Baroque program including vocal excerpts from Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride and arias from Handel’s Alcina and Ariodonte. On Saturday, July 23, Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden also makes his BSO and Tanglewood debuts this weekend, conducting Brahms’s soaring, ever-popular Violin Concerto; Beethoven’s masterful, dance-infused Symphony No. 7; and Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Steven Stucky’s Rhapsodies, a series of 12 short and diverse episodes for orchestra. Hot on the heels of his two recitals featuring Ravel’s complete music for solo piano on July 20 and 21, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet again takes center stage on Sunday, July 24, this time with the BSO and guest conductor Emmanuel Krivine, for another program exclusively featuring music by the French master.

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BLUES LEGEND ERIC BIBB at CLUB HELSINKI HUDSON

Bluesman Eric Bibb

Bluesman Eric Bibb

Blues legend Eric Bibb performs at Club Helsinki in Hudson, N.Y., on Friday, July 22, at 9. The Grammy- and W.C. Handy-nominated gentleman of song has brought his thoughtful music, soulful voice and blues-laced guitar picking to listeners around the world over the past four decades. Bibb has deep roots in American blues and folk tradition. The son of 1960s folk legend Leon Bibb, Eric’s uncle was the jazz pianist and composer John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Paul Robeson was his godfather. Nominated for nine W.C. Handy Blues Music Awards, Bibb has been appropriately described as “discreetly awesome” and “a total original.” Earlier comparisons to legendary greats Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal are being replaced by quotes that speak to Bibb’s ability to “use standard blues ingredients to cook up something all his own.”

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SHAKESPEARE & CO.’s OUTDOOR STAGE MARKS 10 YEARS WITH COMEDY

Justin Weaks and Thomas Randle (foreground) with the cast of The Venetian Twins (photo by Kevin Sprague)

Justin Weaks and Thomas Randle (foreground) with the cast of The Venetian Twins (photo by Kevin Sprague)

The outdoor Rose Footprint Theatre at Shakespeare & Company marks its 10th anniversary season with The Venetian Twins, a commedia dell’arte-flavored show featuring swordfights, whimsical costumes, ridiculous antics, hilarious music, and more. An outlandish comedy reminiscent of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, The Venetian Twins features a bevy of original catchy songs, part of Shakespeare & Company’s summer-long Bankside Festival, which includes a wide variety of outdoor performances and free events for the whole family throughout July and August.

Penned by Carlo Goldoni (who also wrote The Servant of Two Masters, performed in 2006), The Venetian Twins is a brilliant example of commedia dell’arte. Two identical twin brothers, Zanetto and Tonino, are separated at birth and have grown into two brothers who could not behave more differently. Tonino is a sophisticated urbanite, while Zanetto has morphed into a clueless bumpkin. As luck would have it, both twins decide to visit Verona at the exact same time, and it isn’t long before their friends and love interests start to confuse them for each other, with delightfully funny results.

 

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ARTBERKSHIRES WILL DO IT ALL FOR YOU

Lola Brooks atop her jewel-encrusted tuk-tuk (courtesy Sienna Gallery)

Lola Brooks atop her jewel-encrusted tuk-tuk (courtesy Sienna Gallery)

ArtBerkshires, an organization working to bring together professionals in the arts living and working in the Berkshires, presents the first of two curated weekends taking place in the summer of 2011. The weekend kicks off on Thursday in Becket with dinner at the Dream Away Lodge and dancing by contemporary troupe zoe | juniper at Jacob’s Pillow, followed by an exclusive tour of the Pillow’s extensive exhibition of photographs by Annie Leibovitz. Highlights of Friday’s events are a behind-the-scenes tour of Hancock Shaker Village, focusing on the Shakers’ approach to architecture and design, and “dish + dine” at Ferrin Gallery, catered by Mezze Bistro and hosted by artist Joe Wheaton and food historian/curator Barbara Wheaton. Saturday’s events include a private tour of Ventfort Hall and a performance of Open Marriage: Renegade Wife of the Gilded Age. The weekend closes on Sunday morning with brunch and a presentation by jeweler Lola Brooks, who will discuss her recent journey through India in a jewel-encrusted rickshaw, at Sienna Gallery.

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