Berkshire Cultural Highlights Oct 5-9, 2011

 

CONTEMPORARY SANSKRIT CHANT DUO at the MAHAIWE

Deva Premal and Miten

Deva Premal and Miten

Internationally renowned Sanskrit chant duo Deva Premal and Miten perform The Yoga of Sacred Song and Chant at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Mass., on Sunday, October 9, at 7:30 p.m. The duo will be joined by Nepalese flute maestro Manose for the event, presented by Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge.

Deva Premal and Miten, called “the Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash of chant,” update the ancient art of Sanskrit chant with contemporary arrangements that incorporate influences as varied as reggae, New Age, Celtic pop, and Indian raga. The two met in India in 1990 and soon began combining song, mantra and meditation into a blend that would bring this ancient form of devotion to millions of listeners through their recordings, concerts and workshops throughout Europe, Australia, South America, Canada and the United States.

German-born Deva Premal is a classically trained musician who grew up singing mantras as bedtime songs. Her mother plays viola da gamba and her father was an artist and a devotee of Zen and yoga who taught himself Sanskrit.

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BERKSHIRE GROWN PRESENTS VIDEO LECTURE SERIES on RISE and FUTURE OF FOOD MOVEMENT

Theater director Peter Sellars

Theater director Peter Sellars

Edible Education: The Rise And Future Of The Food Movement, a series of videotaped lectures from UC Berkeley with renowned author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Nikki Henderson of the People’s Grocery, kicks off with “Food as Culture” by visionary artist Peter Sellars, one of the most powerful forces in the performing arts, on Wednesday, October 5, 2011, at 7 pm at the Lecture Center at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, co-hosted by Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Berkshire Grown. Sellars will talk about culture, art, money, life, the food movement, and politics.

An innovative opera, theater and festival director, Peter Sellars is known for groundbreaking interpretations of classic works. In 2011 he staged Nixon in China at the Metropolitan Opera in New York; Hercules at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; The Winds of Destiny at the Ojai Music Festival and Cal Performances; and Griselda at the Santa Fe Opera.

Edible Education: The Rise And Future Of The Food Movement is a series of nine videotaped lectures from UC Berkeley, part of a course coordinated by author Michael Pollan and Nikki Henderson of the People’s Grocery. Speakers include authors Marion Nestle, Politics of Food; Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation; and activist and innovative chef Alice Waters. For a list of speakers and topics, visit Berkshire Grown.

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HIT CIVIL RIGHTS DRAMA RETURNS for 2-WEEK RUN at BARRINGTON STAGE

Aisha Hinds and John Bedford Lloyd in 'Best of Enemies' (photo by Kevin Sprague)

Aisha Hinds and John Bedford Lloyd in 'Best of Enemies' (photo by Kevin Sprague)

Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass., is bringing back one of the summer’s popular hits, The Best of Enemies by Mark St. Germain, for a two-week run during fall foliage season, October 5-16, 2011. Inspired by the best-selling book by Osha Gray Davidson, The Best of Enemies is a true story about the relationship between C.P. Ellis, a Grand Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, and Ann Atwater, an African-American civil rights activist, during the desegregation of the Durham, N.C., schools in 1971.

The world premiere production of Best of Enemies comes from the pen of the playwright of the acclaimed Freud’s Last Session, currently selling out shows in Manhattan, where it is about to be moved to a larger theater to accommodate the demand for tickets. Freud’s Last Session also premiered at Barrington Stage, making St. Germain and the company an unstoppable team, along the lines of William Finn and Barrington Stage (which midwifed the hit Finn musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee).

The fall foliage run is directed once again by company artistic director Julianne Boyd and stars Aisha Hinds, John Bedford Lloyd, Don Guillory and Susan Wands.

Performances are Wednesday/Thursday 7pm; Friday/Saturday 8pm; Sunday 3pm. Additional matinees are Saturday, October 8 at 2pm and Wednesday, October 12 at 2pm. Tickets are $15-40. Seniors: $25 matinees. Youth 18 & under: $15 all performances. Tickets are available at Barrington Stage Company, by calling 413.236.8888, or from the box office at 30 Union Street.

The play takes place at the BSC Mainstage on 30 Union Street in downtown Pittsfield, Mass.

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COLUMNIST/CRITIC FRANK RICH to SPEAK at the COLONIAL

Frank Rich

Frank Rich

Former New York Times columnist and theater critic Frank Rich will speak at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Mass., on Sunday, October 9 at 2 pm. WAMC Northeast Public Radio’s morning host Joe Donahue will moderate the conversation with Rich, who now writes a monthly column for New York magazine.

As the former chief theater critic at the Times, Rich was one of the most powerful and feared men in the theater world. Rich was known for being one of the first writers to predict the success of Follies by Stephen Sondheim during his time as an undergraduate. After such a spectacular beginning to his reviewing career, Rich spent many years reviewing theater. Rich’s love of criticism came from an undeniable love of theater and the possession of an incredibly analytical mind. He once said that “The lowest form of criticism — actually worthless, in my opinion — is, ‘I give this an A or an F, or I give this four stars. What matters is making the case for why Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George is a visionary show … The easy part is having the opinion. The fun part is telling the story of how you got there.”

Now a long-form columnist for New York magazine, Rich focuses on the connection between culture and the news. In 1999 he was the first writer for the New York Times to have a regular double-length column in the Op-Ed section.

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ENGLISH COMIC DRAMA ‘THE KITCHEN’ SIMULCAST at MAHAIWE and THE CLARK

London’s National Theatre: Live in HD production of Arnold Wesker‘s The Kitchen, a black comedy set in a 1950s London restaurant, will be screened live from the Olivier Theatre in London on Thursday, October 6, at The Clark at 2pm and at the Mahaiwe at 7 p.m. Wesker’s play premiered at the Royal Court in 1959 and has since been performed in over 30 countries. The Kitchen, where the cooks and waitstaff do battle, flirt, and work together behind the scenes, is a blackly funny and furious examination of life lived at breakneck speed, when work threatens to define who we are.

Set in the basement kitchen of a large restaurant, thirty chefs, waitresses, and kitchen porters from across Europe – English, Irish, German, Jewish – argue and flirt as they slowly begin the day preparing to serve lunch. The central story tells of a frustrated love affair between a high-spirited, young, German chef, Peter, and a married English waitress, Monique.

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JAZZ TRADITION MEETS the AVANT-GARDE in SEX MOB’S PARTY MUSIC

Sex Mob (L to R: Kenny Wollesen, Steven Bernstein, Tony Scherr and Briggan Krauss)

Sex Mob (L to R: Kenny Wollesen, Steven Bernstein, Tony Scherr and Briggan Krauss)

Steven Bernstein brings his slide trumpet and his band, Sex Mob, with longtime band members Briggan Krauss on alto saxophone and Tony Scherr on bass, along with special guests Roswell Rudd on trombone, John Medeski on keyboards, and Ben Perowsky on drums, for Bernstein’s 50th birthday celebration, to Club Helsinki in Hudson, N.Y., on Friday, October 7, 2001, at 9..

Sex Mob, usually gets lumped in with the downtown-jazz avant-garde. This is in part because Bernstein and his Sex Mob bandmates are stalwarts of that scene, often found playing in avant-garde nightclubs and because they incorporate the vocabulary of the avant-garde – the squeaks and squawks and the dizzying cross-genre references – into their playing.

But as Bernstein is quick to point out, Sex Mob’s basic approach – that of a party band playing jazz versions of popular hit tunes — is deeply rooted in jazz tradition.

“All jazz has always been to take something that could be seen as syrupy muzak and if it’s a good melody, to put it in your own language,” says Bernstein. “That’s why we’re traditional.”

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NEW MUSIC to BE PERFORMED for SILENT CLASSIC ‘THE GOLEM’

The BQE Project

The BQE Project

The Jewish legend of the golem – a human-like creature created by man, not God — has inspired numerous creative works, from Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein to Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2001 novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. One of the most recent creations is Tom Nazziola’s soundtrack to Paul Wegener’s 1920 German silent film, The Golem, which will be performed by his ensemble, the BQE Project, when the film is screened at the Yiddish Book Center on the campus of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., on Sunday, October 9, at 7 p.m.

Widely recognized as the source for the Frankenstein myth, the ancient Hebrew legend of the golem provided actor/director Paul Wegener with the inspiration for one of the most adventurous films of the German silent cinema. A classic example of German expressionism, the film recounts the story in which, suffering under the tyrannical rule of Rudolf II in 16th-century Prague, a Talmudic rabbi creates a giant warrior (played by Wegener) to protect the safety of his people.

Sculpted of clay and animated by the mysterious secrets of the Kabbalah, the Golem is a seemingly indestructible juggernaut, performing acts of great heroism and dreadful violence.  When the rabbi’s assistant takes control of the Golem and attempts to use him for his selfish gain, the lumbering monster runs rampant, abducting the rabbi’s daughter and setting fire to the ghetto.

Originally founded by Tom Nazziola and John Florio, the BQE Project is an accomplished chamber ensemble that has quickly developed a loyal following for its original music scores and live performances to both silent and classic film. [Read Seth Rogovoy’s review of the BQE performing its soundtrack to Charlie Chaplin’s classic film The Gold Rush at MASS MoCA in North Adams here, and Seth’s interview with Nazziola here.]

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SOLO EXHIBITION of NEW PAINTINGS by ANN GETSINGER AT LAUREN CLARK FINE ART

"Billie and George at the Pinnacle" by Ann Getsinger

"Billie and George at the Pinnacle" by Ann Getsinger

SKY SLICE and The Pedestal Series, an exhibition of new work by painter Ann Getsinger, opens on Saturday, October 8, 2011, at Lauren Clark Fine Art in Housatonic, Mass., with an artist’s reception from 4 to 7 p.m. This new exhibition of “stillscapes” by the well-known Berkshire artist will remain on display through November 7, 2011.

For the many followers of this longtime Berkshire (and Maine coast) painter’s work, this exhibit continues the trajectory of the “Stillscapes” first begun in the 1990s. Taking real objects and placing them in landscapes of the mind, places drawn from memory, dreams, imagination, Getsinger takes the “What, where, and when” and asks “Why?”

Evident in The Pedestal Series is the painter’s esteem for variety. Isolating and elevating a single object, it is placed atop something: a block of driftwood; an army helmet; or an upside down wooden salad bowl, etc., where it simply exists in a certain moment. Mining the ordinary for the extraordinary, the painter playfully asks questions as she presents unfolding or unfolded tales.

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