A highly selective preview of cultural events taking place this weekend in the greater Berkshire region, including chamber music; a world premiere; political cartoons; bluegrass; solo piano; and a whole lot more.
(NEW MARLBOROUGH, Mass.) – Oud and violin virtuoso and composer Simon Shaheen will be featured in “From Cairo to Andalusia,” a program of traditional Egyptian and Syrian music, plus improvisations and original compositions, in the Music & More Series at the Historic Meeting House on Saturday, September 10, at 4:30pm. Shaheen will be joined by a percussionist and a qanun player. (Qanun is a type of hammered dulcimer). There will be a pre-concert lecture at 3:30pm.
(STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.) – In “Presidents, Politics, and the Pen: The Influential Art of Thomas Nast,” opening Saturday, September 10, with a program at 5:30, Norman Rockwell Museum takes a look back at the 19th century to examine the impact that one of the nation’s greatest image-makers had over its politics. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, December 4.
Award-winning political cartoonist and historian Steven Brodner will provide a lively look at Nast’s career, as part of the opening festivities on Saturday, September 10, at 6:30pm. Admission to the event is $20, or free for museum members. The show’s curators will offer special gallery tours of the exhibition on Wednesdays, September 14, October 26, and November 16, at 3pm.
(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Elizabeth Kolbert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Sixth Extinction,” and David Simon, the Baltimore-based journalist and author who created the critically acclaimed HBO drama, “The Wire,” will speak at Williams College on Monday, September 12, at 8pm, and on Wednesday, September 14, at 7:30pm, respectively. Both talks take place on the MainStage of the college’s ’62 Center.
(NORTH HILLSDALE, N.Y.) – Innovative banjoist Tony Trischka, the Foghorn Stringband, Danny Paisley & Southern Grass, Bruce Molsky with Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, featuring banjoist Allison de Groot and guitarist Stash Wyslouch, and “Six Feet Under”’s Lauren Ambrose headline the second annual Oldtone Roots Music Festival, at Cool Whisper Farm from Thursday, September 8, through Sunday, September 11.
Other performers include fast-rising New Orleans brass and banjo band Tuba Skinny, Two Man Gentleman Band, Brad Lee Folk & Bluegrass Playboys, Jesse Lege & Bayou Brew, Mike Compton, Michael Daves, Raya Brass Band, Run Mountain, Lucky Five, Mail the Horse, The Hayrollers, the Russet Trio, Mountain Laurel, the Farwells, Bear Minimum, Bash Bish Bluegrass Band, and Easy Ridin Papas.
(HILLSDALE, N.Y.) – Clarion Concerts features works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenfield, and a world premiere by composer Tonia Ko in the first of its Leaf Peeper Concert Series this fall at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School in Ghent, N.Y., on Saturday, September 10, at 7:30pm. Performers are Edward Arron, cello; Tessa Lark, violin; Jeewon Park, piano; and Paul Green, clarinet.
The concert, “Autumn Echoes,” opens with Beethoven’s sprightly clarinet trio in B-Flat and ends with Brahms’s sublime piano trio in B Major. In between these two 19th-century classics are two modern works: Paul Schoenfield’s scintillating “Café Music” and the world premiere of the Clarion-commissioned “Elegy for Cello and Piano” by young composer Tonia Ko.
(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – The Williams Chamber Players will perform works by Bach, Bartok, and Mendelssohn in “Singing Shakespeare, Legacy of Bach,” their first concert of the season, on Friday, September 9, at 8pm in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus. The concert is free and open to the public.
Faculty member and bassoonist Stephen Walt will present his transcription of Bach’s Prelude in B Minor BWV 869, for woodwind quintet. This will be followed by Liebermann’s Fantasy on a Fugue of J.S. Bach, played by Jacqueline DeVoe, flute; Carl Jenkins, oboe; Susan Martula, clarinet; Victor Sungarian, horn and Doris Stevenson, piano.
Bass-baritone Keith Kibler will present songs based on texts of William Shakespeare. Joanna Kurkowicz, violin, and Doris Stevenson will play Bartok’s Rhapsody No. 1, which is based on Hungarian folk songs.
For the evening’s finale, Joanna Kurkowicz and Doris Stevenson will be joined by cellist Ronald Feldman in a performance of Mendelssohn’s Trio in C Minor op. 66.
(CHATHAM, N.Y.) – The Chatham Camerata, a new collective of professional musicians based in Columbia County, will present an evening of Gustav Mahler’s Das lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”) at St. James Church on Saturday, September 10, at 7:30 pm.
The work will be performed by an 18-piece chamber orchestra conducted by Thomas Carlo Bo.
Featuring tenor Jon Morrell, known locally for leading roles in the Concerts in the Village in Kinderhook, N.Y., and mezzo soprano Elizabeth Russo, this performance of Mahler’s “Song of the Earth” is the first in a series of major chamber performances scheduled from fall through spring.
(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) – Pianist Jeremy Denk will take listeners on a 7,000-year journey through Western music in a solo concert including works by Bach, Schubert, Ligeti and the Beatles in the Sosnoff Theater of the Fisher Center of the Performing Arts at Bard College on Sunday, September 11, at 3pm.
Denk, whose playing was lauded by the New York Times as “bracing, effortlessly virtuosic and utterly joyous,” will create a time-lapse through seven centuries of Western music, from the 1300s to the present day. Denk describes the program saying, “In a series of 25 short pieces, it will trace the evolution of the musical language, the soundscape — an epic story of human thought and ideals, of what we have found important to express in tones.”
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Americana music scion Justin Townes Earle – the son of Steve Earle – will bring his country-inflected brand of folk-rock to Club Helsinki Hudson on Friday, September 9, at 9pm. Singer-songwriter Anthony D’Amato warms up the crowd for Earle.