BerkshireWeekend Cultural Highlights Aug 4-9, 2011

The week’s cultural higlights offer eclecticism and diversity, ranging from new avant-garde classical music at Tanglewood as part of the Contemporary Music Festival to avant-garde dance with ping-pong balls at Jacob’s Pillow to avant-pop vocals by Lia Ices at Club Helsinki Hudson to luminous landscapes at Harrison Gallery to neo-Victorianism at Norman Rockwell Museum to Danish chamber music at The Clark. And that’s not all, folks.

CONTEMPORARY MUSIC FESTIVAL FEATURES NEW ZORN WORK and HO’S ‘FANFARE TO STOP THE CREEPING MEATBALL’

Fred Ho

Fred Ho

The Tanglewood Music Center’s 2011 Festival of Contemporary Music, August 3-7, under the direction of Pulitzer Prize-winning Charles Wuorinen, will feature three world premieres, by Wuorinen, John Zorn, and Fred Ho — all three commissions by the Tanglewood Music Center. The 2011 programs will represent a mix of early-, mid-, and late-career composers, with a special emphasis on American composers, as 18 of the 23 featured composers are American.

The 2011 Festival of Contemporary Music opens on Wednesday, August 3, at 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall, with the world premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s It Happens Like This, a dramatic, semi-staged 35-minute cantata for four singers and 12 instrumentalists, set to six selections from James Tate’s Return to the City of White Donkeys. This performance will be preceded by a panel discussion at 6 p.m. featuring Mr. Wuorinen, James Tate, and Ken Schmoll.

Though the 2011 Festival of Contemporary Music will feature performances by Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center and guest artists and conductors, several of the featured composers will also take part in performances of their own works.

In addition to the world premiere by Charles Wuorinen, this year’s festival will also present the world premiere of jazz- and funk-influenced Chinese-American composer Fred Ho’s Fanfare to Stop the Creeping Meatball, commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center.  Ho’s work will open the concerts on August 4 at 8 p.m. August 6 at 2:30 p.m., and August 7 at 10 a.m. in Ozawa Hall, and August 5 at 2:30 p.m. in the Theatre.

The third world premiere and TMC commission of the Festival will be John Zorn’s À Rebours, a title inspired by the Huysmans book of the same name.  The work will be performed by Fellows of the TMC with guest cellist Fred Sherry and guest conductor and former Fellow Brad Lubman, on Thursday, August 4, at 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall.

Brazilian composer Felipe Lara’s Onda will be the opening work of the final concert of the 2011 Festival, under the direction of Stefan Asbury, Sunday, August 7, at 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall. This year’s Festival will highlight three works of Japanese composer Jo Kondo, including Beginning, Middle and End, on Saturday, August 6, at 2:30 p.m. in the Theatre; High Window on Sunday, August 7, at 6 p.m. in Ozawa Hall; and In summer on Sunday, August 7, at 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall. Also featured will be works by two British composers: Brian Ferneyhough’s beautifully intricate miniature violin concerto Terrain, will be performed on Thursday, August 4, at 8 p.m. in Ozawa Hall, and Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen’s The Girl in My Alphabet will be performed on Friday, August 5, at 2:30 p.m. in Ozawa Hall. Israeli composer Jonathan Keren’s Multiscala will be performed on Saturday, August 6, at 2:30 p.m. in the Theatre.

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DANCING WITH 10,000 PING-PONG BALLS at JACOB’S PILLOW

Jonah Bokaer in 'Why Patterns' (photo Robert Benschop)

Jonah Bokaer in 'Why Patterns' (photo Robert Benschop)

Performer, choreographer, and media artist Jonah Bokaer will combine dance, architecture, and visual art in an innovative program of two U.S. premieres in the Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass., on August 3-7. Bokaer and his dancers will perform the site-specific RECESS, designed by acclaimed visual artist Daniel Arsham, and Why Patterns, in which 10,000 Ping-Pong balls cascade from above, causing dramatically different configurations and reactions in every performance. Also at the Pillow through the weekend is 3e étage/3rd Floor, a contemporary ballet ensemble formed by and featuring dancers and soloists of the legendary Paris Opera Ballet, in the Ted Shawn Theatre.

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NORMAN ROCKWELL MUSEUM GOES BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH STEAMPUNK

“The Inquisitive Nomad,” Vincent Villafranca, 2011. Bronze sculpture currently on view in the Norman Rockwell Museum exhibition “Robot Nation” (Photo courtesy of Vincent Villafranca. All rights reserved.)

“The Inquisitive Nomad,” Vincent Villafranca, 2011. Bronze sculpture currently on view in the Norman Rockwell Museum exhibition “Robot Nation” (Photo courtesy of Vincent Villafranca. All rights reserved.)

The early Industrial Revolution dances with modern technology in the Steampunk movement, the topic of an illustrated lecture and discussion at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., on Thursday, August 4, starting at 5:30 p.m. Steampunk Night features Bruce Rosenbaum of ModVic Steampuffin and Ellen Hagney, executive director of the Charles River Museum of Innovation and Industry, discussing the Steampunk movement, a unique sub-genre of science fiction and alternate history in which futuristic appliances and interior designs are based on a neo-Victorian style and perspective. The evening talk is presented as part of the museum’s “Blue Sky & Beyond” summer program series, held in conjunction with the new exhibition ‘Ice Age’ to the Digital Age: The 3D Animation Art of Blue Sky Studios.

A cross-genre movement of literature, visual arts, fashion, and music, Steampunk nods to Victorian and Edwardian Britain, eras when steam power was still widely used, and typically incorporates elements of science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc.

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AVANT-GARDE POP SINGER-SONGWRITER LIA ICES at CLUB HELSINKI

Lia Ices

Lia Ices

The ethereal pop songstress Lia Ices brings her seductive melancholy to Club Helsinki in Hudson, N.Y., on Friday, August 5, at 9. The Connecticut native, who heads to Chicago immediately after her Helsinki gig to perform at Lollapalooza and then back to New York City to play the Mercury Lounge, before opening a series of dates for Low Anthem in the United Kingdom, began playing piano at the age of five, although she didn’t discover her penchant for songwriting until years later while studying at N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Experimental Theater Wing.

Earlier this year, Ices released her second album, Grown Unknown. Her forlorn vocals and chamber pop arrangements have drawn comparisons to Tori Amos and Cat Power, and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon duets with her on one track on the album.

The Brooklyn -based pianist, singer, and songwriter released her debut album, Necima, in 2008, and reviewers called her a female Grizzly Bear and Sufjan Stevens. Dancing on a finely crafted line between the percussive qualities of her instrument and the melodic elements within the rhythm of her voice, Ices’ music reveals a timeless quality – it could be medieval folk or cutting-edge Scandinavian electronica. Ices’s voice floats and flutters like leaves from trees on a fleeting fall day, and the instrumentation matches that subtle dynamism.

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LUMINOUS LANDSCAPES at HARRISON GALLERY

'River Nocturne' by Jane Bloodgood-Abrams
‘River Nocturne’ by Jane Bloodgood-Abrams

The Harrison Gallery in Williamstown, Mass., will present Luminous Landscapes, an exhibition of landscape paintings by Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, a master in the art of luminous painting, from August 6 through August 31. The artist will be attending the show’s opening reception on Saturday, August 6, from 5 to 7 pm. In the paintings of Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, the sky is literally not the limit. It rises to celestial heights and stretches out in the distance to the horizon and beyond. Skies fill her canvases with their awesome scale and flood the eye with light. Her angry thunderheads rumble beneath the canvas and her billowing white clouds float lazily over the landscape.

The earthbound subjects in Bloodgood-Abrams’ paintings – trees, mountains and rivers – take up a small portion of the compositions, while the vast and voluminous skies take center stage. Her paintings of skies and clouds have an ethereal quality that stir the soul and transcend the landscape. They really could be called skyscapes.

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FOR TRIO CON BRIO COPENHAGEN, 2+2=3

Trio con Brio Copenhagen (photo by Soren Svendsen)
Trio con Brio Copenhagen (photo by Soren Svendsen)

Trio con Brio Copenhagen, one of today’s most exciting young chamber ensembles, performs an eclectic program featuring works by Beethoven, Schubert, and Frank Martin at The Clark in Williamstown, Mass., on Tuesday, August 9 at 8 pm. Korean sisters Soo-Jin and Soo-Kyung Hong and Danish pianist Jens Elvekjaer created the trio in Vienna in 1999 with the concept of two pairs coming together. The sisters had played together since childhood, and Jens Elvekjaer and Soo-Kyung Hong (who are now married) had played piano and cello duos together for years. According to Elvekjaer, “We have always felt that this ‘two and two equals three’ dynamic provides a uniqueness and intensity to all of our performances.

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NEW EXHIBITIONS SHOWCASES ART OF THE PRINT

Deborah Weiss, 'Half Light Canopy,' woodcut unique

Deborah Weiss, 'Half Light Canopy,' woodcut unique

Art of the Print, a new exhibition at the White Gallery in Great Barrington, Mass., opens with an artist reception on August 6, 2011, from 5 to 7 p.m., and runs now through September 24. The show features new work artists Nancy McTague-Stock, Sergio Gonzalez-Tornero, Pavel Roucka, Frances B. Ashforth, Deborah Weiss and Sally Frank.

Located in a renovated farmhouse, the White Gallery, a sister gallery to the White Gallery in Lakeville, Conn., opened this past spring at 924 South Main Street (just south of Guido’s Marketplace). The Lakeville gallery, at 342 Main Street in Lakeville, is currently exhibiting works by abstract artists Timothy Cahill and Penny Putnam.

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