The weekend’s cultural highlights in the Berkshires includes a residency by the Trisha Brown Dance Company at Jacob’s Pillow marking the company’s 40th anniversary; an all-star lineup of virtuoso talent at Tanglewood including cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Emanuel Ax, and vocalist Stephanie Blythe; the innovative piano improvisations of Ben Model applied to silent film; an up-and-coming international piano prodigy at Tannery Pond Concerts; Tony Award-winning actress and former Saturday Night Live comedian Christine Ebersole doing cabaret at the Mahaiwe; and the fabulous WordXWord Festival in Pittsfield celebrating words written, spoken, and sung.
Singers Jay Farrar and Mia Dyson, authors Wesley Stace aka John Wesley Harding, Julie Klausner, and Jami Attenberg, and a half-dozen National Poetry Slam champs, including Buddy Wakefield, Rachel McKibbens and the Berkshires’ own Taylor Mali, will be featured at the 2011 Word X Word Festival, a week of live performances by 60 artists celebrating words written, spoken, and sung, taking place at 17 venues scattered throughout downtown Pittsfield from August 13 to 20.
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Trisha Brown Dance Company with a commemorative program of works highlighting Brown’s inventive choreographic range in the Ted Shawn Theatre from August 10 through August 14. The program includes the 1973 work Spanish Dance, set to Bob Dylan’s version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain;” Brown’s popular Foray Forêt; her most recent creation, Les Yeux et l’âme; and Set and Reset, with set and costumes by famed visual artist Robert Rauschenberg and music by Laurie Anderson. Set and Reset was commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow in 1982 and is emblematic of the thirty years of interaction between Trisha Brown and the Pillow.
Pianist Ilya Poletaev performs works by Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Liszt, and Enescu on Saturday, August 13 at 8 pm in the Tannery Pond Concert Series in the Shaker Tannery on the grounds of the Darrow School in New Lebanon, N.Y. Poletaev recently captured First Prize at the prestigious XVII International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig and, as the winner, will appear in recital at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
Music & More will re-create the experience of watching a silent film with live musical accompaniment on Saturday, August 13, at 8, at the historic Meeting House on the Village Green, where Ben Model, resident silent film accompanist of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, will provide a synchronous performance of completely improvised music to Douglas Fairbanks’ The Mark of Zorro.
A full weekend’s program at Tanglewood includes an evening of Spanish music with Maestro Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos leading the BSO on Friday in a program dedicated to Spanish and Spanish-inspired music, featuring world-renowned guitar virtuoso and fellow Spaniard Pepe Romero making his Tanglewood debut. Saturday night’s program features cellist Yo-Yo Ma performing as soloist in Schumann’s Cello Concerto with German-Hungarian conductor Christoph von Dohnányi leading the BSO. On Sunday afternoon, Stephanie Blythe and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra pay homage to Brahms with a concert dedicated entirely to his music, followed by a Sunday evening recital in Ozawa Hall featuring Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax performing music by Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert.
Singer and two-time Tony Award-winning actress Christine Ebersole, whose career ranges from soap operas to Saturday Night Live and from sitcoms to stage to feature films (including Amadeus, Mac and Me, ‘Til There Was You and My Favorite Martian) will perform a cabaret-style evening of American popular standards with a theme of “love and sex” at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Friday, August 12 at 8.
Broadway in the Berkshires, a musical revue featuring an array of Broadway’s greatest hits performed by an all-star cast of Broadway talent, takes place at Shakespeare & Company’s Founders’ Theatre on Monday, August 15 at 6. Proceeds will go to Shakespeare & Company’s internationally acclaimed Education and Training Programs. Producer and company member Deborah Grausman (actor and founder of Berkshire Musical Theater Workshop) has assembled an all-star cast and creative team for this one-night event, including Chip Zien (Into the Woods, Les Miserables, Falsettos), who will host the show.
Two highly respected contemporary artists and choreographers, Jodi Melnick and David Neumann, will dance together in a unique collaboration choreographed expressly for their residency at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival this week, as their respective company’s share the stage in the Doris Duke Theatre on August 10-14. In her Pillow debut performance, two-time Bessie Award-winner Jodi Melnick presents Fanfare, a sophisticated dance of rhythm and gesture set against a kaleidoscope of light and sculpture designed by visual artist Burt Barr. Neumann and his company, Advanced Beginner Group, also take the stage with signature wry humor and creativity in Hit the Deck and Tough the Tough. This exclusive program also includes the world premiere duet, July, commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow, and choreographed and performed by these two original artists.