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Commentary & Opinion

Rogovoy Report 7/20/18

The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include blues, folk, classical, rock, pop, avant-garde, theater, Leonard Bernstein, and a whole lot more.

The annual Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival aka Banglewood has been well ensconced at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., for over a week now, and this Saturday, at 8pm, marks one of the festival highlights with a performance of Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe’s “Anthracite Fields.” The electric Bang on a Can All-Stars team up with the transcendent voices of Choir of Trinity Wall Street for this haunting, poignant, and relentlessly physical examination of the coal-mining industry so musically and socially provocative that it won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Composition. The much-beloved annual six-hour Bang on a Can Summer Marathon - this year featuring renowned guest composer Steve Reich - takes place next Saturday, July 28, from 4 to 10pm.

Singer-guitarist Rory Block is our region’s own living legend of the blues. Growing up in New York City’s Greenwich Village in the 1960s, Block soaked in the sounds of American roots music during the folk revival. By age 15, she hit the road to track down and learn firsthand from country blues artists, including Mississippi John Hurt, Reverend Gary Davis, and Son House. Block keeps that tradition alive in her own performances and in her annual Gospel & Blues Fest Weekend at PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., this year devoted to “Power Women of the Blues.” The festival kicks off tonight at 8pm with an intimate solo concert by Block, followed by Diunna Greenleaf & Blue Mercy on Saturday at 8pm, and the Strait Way Ministries Gospel Choir on Sunday at 2pm, featuring Rory Block and Steven Johnson, grandson of the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson.

In the region’s theaters, “Macbeth” is up and running at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox along with August Strindberg’s “Creditors”; “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” starring Laila Robins, is at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield; “Lempicka” and “Artney Jackson” are at Williamstown Theatre Festival; and the rock musical “Hair” is at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge.

Over at Tanglewood this weekend, Emanuel Ax is the soloist tonight joining the BSO in an all-Mozart program. Saturday night, works by Haydn, Mozart, and Leonard Bernstein are on the menu. And on Sunday afternoon, the BSO plays two works by Sibelius plus a work by contemporary composer Thomas Adès, who will also be conducting the orchestra.

Elsewhere, folksinger Tom Rush is at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, Mass., tonight and Saturday at 8pm; singer-songwriter Shannon McNally brings her rootsy songs and soulful vocals to Club Helsinki Hudson tonight at 9pm; Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon brings her new group, BodyHead, to BSP in Kingston, NY, tonight at 8pm; Brian Wilson performs the Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds,” at UPAC in Kingston on Sunday at 7pm; and Leonard Bernstein’s “Peter Pan” ends its run this weekend at the Fisher Center at Bard College as part of Bard’s Summerscape festival.

Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com