BerkshireWeekend Cultural Preview, Jul 28-31, 2016

A highly selective preview of cultural events taking place this weekend in the greater Berkshire region, including dance, new music, old music, a hit musical review, comedy, opera, and a whole lot more.

Wendy Whelan (photo Nisian Hughes/courtesy Jacobs Pillow)

Wendy Whelan (photo Nisian Hughes/courtesy Jacobs Pillow)

WENDY WHELAN & BRIAN BROOKS DANCE with BROOKLYN RIDER at JACOB’S PILLOW

(BECKET, Mass.) – Famed New York City Ballet dancer Wendy Whelan and choreographer Brian Brooks join forces with string quartet Brooklyn Rider in “Some of a Thousand Words,” in the Ted Shawn Theater at Jacob’s Pillow from Wednesday, July 27, through Sunday, July 31. The program is a suite of intimate solos and duets accompanied by a score featuring works by contemporary composers, including Philip Glass and the quartet’s own Colin Jacobsen.

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John Luther Adams (photo Pete Woodhead)

John Luther Adams (photo Pete Woodhead)

BANG ON A CAN MARATHON to FEATURE WORKS by REICH, ANDRIESSEN, AND JOHN LUTHER ADAMS

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – The 15th annual Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA concludes this Saturday, July 30, as always, with a six-hour Bang on a Can Summer Marathon concert from 4 to 10pm, in the Hunter Center, featuring works by special guest composer John Luther Adams, Steve Reich, George Crumb, Louis Andriessen, and Bang cofounders (and Pulitzer Prize winners) Julia Wolfe and David Lang.

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Howard Fishman (photo Carole Cohen)

Howard Fishman (photo Carole Cohen)

HOWARD FISHMAN QUINTET to PLAY JAZZY AMERICANA at PS21

(CHATHAM, N.Y.) – The Howard Fishman Quintet brings its original blend of New Orleans, country, and gospel music and narrative-driven songs to PS21 on Saturday, July 30, at 8pm. The band combines the exuberance and spontaneity of jazz with a storyteller’s sense of drama, emotional depth, and play, and includes an all-star cast of musical talent. Joining Fishman are guitarist Scott Barkan, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, sousaphonist Kenny Bentley and Moses Patrou on drums. Read my 2010 essay about Howard in Berkshire Living Magazine.

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Andris Nelsons (photo Marco Borggreve)

Andris Nelsons (photo Marco Borggreve)

ANDRIS NELSONS MAKES 2016 TANGLEWOOD DEBUT; CHICK COREA BRINGS TRIO on SUNDAY

(LENOX, Mass.) – Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Andris Nelsons takes the baton at Tanglewood from Friday, July 29, through Sunday, July 31, for his first of his two weekends of programs during the 2016 Tanglewood season, conducting works by Mozart, Mahler, Sibelius, Brahms, and John Corigliano. On Sunday evening in Ozawa Hall, the Chick Corea Trio, featuring bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade in addition to Corea on piano, celebrate Corea’s 75th birthday.

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scene from 'Pirates of Penzance' (photo Kevin Sprague)

scene from ‘Pirates of Penzance’ (photo Kevin Sprague)

BSC’S ‘PIRATES OF PENZANCE’ IS SUMMER’S HIT SHOW

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – Rave reviews for Barrington Stage Company’s revival of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” are pouring in from major metropolitan media, including critics from the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Albany Times Union, in addition to the Berkshire Eagle. The musical, currently in a limited run at BSC’s mainstage through Saturday, August 13, is directed by Tony Award-winner John Rando and choreographed by Emmy Award-winner Joshua Bergasse, the same team behind the acclaimed, Tony Award-nominated Broadway revival of “On the Town” that originated at Barrington Stage. It’s a good bet that BSC’s “Pirates” may follow in its footsteps.

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Rita Rudner

Rita Rudner

COMEDIAN RITA RUDNER to BRING LAUGHS to COLONIAL

(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) –  Comedian Rita Rudner, who emerged in the comedy boom of the 1980s through appearances on HBO and late-night TV talk shows, after a career as a Broadway dancer, brings her standup act to the Colonial Theatre on Friday, July 29, at 8pm.

After working on Broadway as a dancer (she appeared in several shows, including the original productions of “Follies,” “Annie,” and “Mack and Mabel”), Rudner noticed the lack of female comedians in New York City, and turned her stage presence to stand-up at age 25, after observing how few female comedians there were compared to the number of female dancers. She spent many hours researching her favorite comedians, including Woody Allen and Jack Benny.

Since then, the award-winning comedian, actress, screenwriter, and best-selling author has been a frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman and The Tonight Show. Her first HBO special, Rita Rudner’s One Night Stand, was nominated for several awards, as was her English BBC television show, which later appeared on A&E.

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Josh Nelson and Neshama  Carlebach

Josh Nelson and Neshama Carlebach

CONTEMPORARY JEWISH MUSIC STARS NESHAMA CARLEBACH and JOSH NELSON to PLAY LENOX HIGH

(LENOX, Mass.) – Neshama Carlebach and Josh Nelson, two of the biggest names in contemporary Jewish music, will perform for the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires’ annual benefit concert in the Duffin Theater at Lenox Memorial High School on Sunday, July 31, at 7pm. Each a star in their own right, together Neshama Carlebach and Josh Nelson are a spirited and spiritual duo, carving new paths in Jewish pop and folk music while drawing upon the tradition of Neshama’s father, the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the “singing rabbi” of blessed memory.

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Talise Trevigne as Iris (photo Todd Norwood)

Talise Trevigne as Iris (photo Todd Norwood)

RARE STAGING of MASCAGNI’S ‘IRIS’ at BARD SUMMERSCAPE

(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON) – A new, fully staged production of the rarely staged opera “Iris” (1898), a darkly expressionistic forerunner of “Madama Butterfly” by Puccini’s close contemporary Pietro Mascagni, will have five performances in the Fisher Center at Bard College as part of Bard SummerScape from Friday, July 22, through Sunday, July 31.
Conceived expressly for SummerScape 2016, Bard’s original production is the creation of James Darrah – a recent Musical America New Artist of the Month – whose successes include a staging of “Peter Grimes” that the Wall Street Journal proclaimed “one of the strongest, most theatrically imaginative, musically and dramatically compelling productions of the work.”

Starring Grammy Award-nominated soprano Talise Trevigne, with music director Leon Botstein leading the American Symphony Orchestra, “Iris”’s five performances take place in the Fisher Center on July 22, 24, 27, 29, and 31.

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Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), "The Connoisseur," 1961. Oil on canvas mounted on board, 37 3/4" x 31 1/2". Cover illustration for "The Saturday Evening Post," January 13, 1962. Private collection. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “The Connoisseur,” 1961. Oil on canvas mounted on board, 37 3/4″ x 31 1/2″. Cover illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” January 13, 1962. Private collection. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

MUSEUM JUXTAPOSES ROCKWELLIAN REALISM with ABSTRACTION

(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – For the first time ever, Norman Rockwell Museum will explore the contrast between the abstract and realist movements, placing works by Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, and Andy Warhol side by side with Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns, and over 40 other preeminent artists, including Walton Ford, Larry Rivers, Helen Frankenthaler, Jeff Koons, Anita Kunz, Jacqui Morgan, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle, Saul Steinberg, and Cy Twombly.

Rockwell and Realism in an Abstract World,” on view through October 30, will examine the forces that forged the mid-century dismissal of narrative painting and illustration, as well as the resurgence of realist painting during the latter half of the twentieth century, its presence and critical consideration today, and the ways in which our contemporary viewpoints have been shaped by post World War II constructs.

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Titian (Tiziano Vecelli) (Italian [Venetian], c. 1488–1576), Venus with an Organist and Cupid, c. 1550–1555. Oil on canvas, 59 1/8 x 85 7/8 in. © Photographic Archive. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Titian (Tiziano Vecelli) (Italian [Venetian], c. 1488–1576), Venus with an Organist and Cupid, c. 1550–1555. Oil on canvas, 59 1/8 x 85 7/8 in. © Photographic Archive. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

NUDES from PRADO EXHIBITION at THE CLARK

(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – “Splendor, Myth, and Vision: Nudes from the Prado,” the summer’s major exhibition at the Clark Art Institute, consisting of 28 Old Master paintings of the nude, twenty-four of which have never traveled to the United States, remains on view through Monday, October 10. The exhibition, co-organized by the Clark and the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, examines the collecting of 16th- and 17th-century paintings of the nude at the Spanish court, exploring the histories of these works and their display in the Spanish Royal Collections, and reconsidering the significant role of the nude in European art.

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