(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – The Berkshire Bach Ensemble continues its tradition of over two decades on Saturday, December 31, 2011, by performing all six Brandenburg Concerti of Johann Sebastian Bach, directed by harpsichordist Kenneth Cooper, at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m.
Bach’s colorful Brandenburg Concerti have been the stars of the Baroque Music scene since they were composed around 1718, revived in the 1950s and enjoyed for decades. Even though the six Brandenburg Concerti are a Berkshire tradition, there are always some new twists and surprises. Among the guest artists this year are oboists Gerard Reuter and Keve Wilson, cellist Kathe Jarka, violist Todd Low and violinist Wu Jie. They will join eighteen other distinguished virtuosi headed by concertmaster Eugene Drucker.
Meg Owens will be oboe soloist in Concerto 1, violinist Patrick Wood will join Kenneth Cooper and Alison Hale in Concerto 5, and Marjorie Bagley will pair with violist Irena Momchilova in Concerto 6.
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, a nine-piece soul-funk outfit led by upstate New York native Arleigh Kincheloe (Sister Sparrow), bring their deep grooves to Club Helsinki on Friday, December 30, 2011, at 9.
Arleigh Kincheloe’s astoundingly powerful voice and sly demeanor make for a spellbinding presence onstage. She is backed by the mighty force of The Dirty Birds, a flock of eight men who masterfully lay down thundering grooves and soaring melodies. While each of the Birds is capable of lighting up the stage with jaw-dropping displays of musicianship, it’s clear that together they’re focused on delivering the band’s infectious music as a single entity. Simply put, the band’s live show is explosive.
(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will screen The Polar Express on Wednesday, December 28, 2011, at 6 p.m. ($6 general admission). Directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on children’s author Chris Van Allsburg’s modern holiday classic of the same name, The Polar Express (2004) revolves around Billy (Hayden McFarland), who longs to believe in Santa Claus but finds it quite difficult to do so, what with his family’s dogged insistence that all of it, from the North Pole, to the elves, to the man himself, is all just a myth.
This all changes, however, on Christmas Eve, when a mysterious train visits Billy in the middle of the night, promising to take him and a group of other lucky children to the North Pole for a visit with Santa. The train’s conductor (Tom Hanks) along with the other passengers help turn Billy’s crisis in faith into a journey of self-discovery.
The Mahaiwe is located at 14 Castle Street in Great Barrington, Mass. Box Office Hours: Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 6 pm and three hours before show times. Movie tickets are available in person only. For more information, see Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center or call 413.528.0100.
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Upstate New York roots-rockers the Felice Brothers, who have drawn widespread acclaim and comparisons to the Band and Wilco, will usher in the New Year at Club Helsinki on Saturday, December 31, 2011. The Robots will warm up the crowd.
The group’s newest and fourth LP, Celebration, Florida, is an exhilarating amalgamation of frightening horn sections, unexpected 808s, ambient synth lines, schoolyard taunts, booming, primitive drum beats, heavy bass lines, piano, violin, accordion, ringing guitars, rave beats, and sinister acid jazz that captivates and mystifies.
Recorded in the gymnasium and theater of Beacon, N.Y.,’s old high school, the band explores a multitude of sounds and instrumentation throughout the album. It’s inspired, imaginative, passionate, and rollicking. Most importantly, it’s as steadfastly authentic as ever, expanding upon the dark, woozy undercurrent of ramshackle barroom blues, vaudevillian atmospherics, and surreal storytelling of their previous albums, the majority of which was recorded in a converted chicken coop in upstate New York near their hometown of Palenville.
(LENOX, Mass.) – Tonight through Friday (Dec. 28-30) at 7:30 p.m. are the last three performances of Shakespeare & Company’s new and re-imagined production of David Sedaris’s The SantaLand Diaries, in the Elayne Bernstein Theatre. Company actor Ryan Winkles (The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mystery of Irma Vep) stars as Crumpet the Elf in the one-man show, which has become an annual tradition at Shakespeare & Company that rotates out the lead actor each year.