Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 26, 2017

Music from the Hills

by Shera Cohen

There is no escaping music in the Berkshire Hills, even when you are least expecting. In the last six days, I have had five music experiences all within a short drive from each other.

“The Music Man” – Berkshire Theatre Group, Colonial Theatre,
Pittsfield, MA
It is obvious that a play with this title will provide music. I must say that, perhaps except for “Annie” renditions of “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” I would safely say that “The Music Man” claims the distinction of having the most brain worms ever to be found in a musical. “The Wells Fargo Wagon,” “Ya Got Trouble,” and “Gary, Indiana” are still in my head.

Sevenars Music Festival – Worthington, MA
Once a week, the Schrade family hosts a small concert in their lovely, rustic theatre. While the Schrades are usually onstage, the musicians were the talented Emmanuel Feldman (cello) and Joy Cline Phinney (piano). The selected music was penned by Beethoven, Brahms, Gershwin, and George Walker. The latter’s composition, atypical from the others, was upbeat contemporary jazz. Intermission treats included the best mini-├ęclairs I’ve ever tasted.

Berkshire Choral Festival – Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
Last week’s concert was the last performance by this group to take place in the Berkshires. While 30 or so of the 300 voices were heard on the veranda of the Norman Rockwell Museum, the sampling of BCF talents was heard loud and clear. To me, combining two or more art forms in one venue at the same time, is a class act. Rockwell and Warhol, “accompanied” by folk and show tune songwriters was a perfect mix.

Emerson String Quartet – Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
Shostakovich and The Black Monk, Chekov and Stalin, the Emerson String Quartet and Osawa Hall made for three unique duos. The impetus for my Tanglewood visit was the quartet, not realizing that I would also hear a narrated/acted theatre piece set, in part, to music. Tanglewood is certainly the place to experience ambitious work in music. Admittedly, the sections highlighting the quartet stood out splendidly. The following evening’s concert featured only the quartet.

Lots of bands, 3rd Thursday in Pittsfield, downtown Pittsfield, MA
A walk on Main Street, Pittsfield on each month’s third Thursday makes for a fun community experience for adults and kids. There’s all kinds of food (junk or healthy, entrees or just on a stick), farmers market, hula-hoop contests, basketball games, antique cars, and guys on stilts. And music! Mostly rock, mostly contemporary, and good ol’ oldies tossed into the assortment.