Pittsfield’s main transportation hub will play host to a unique concert this weekend.
When people think of choral music, they think of cathedrals. Concert halls. Places of worship and the arts. So why is a choir playing a bus station in downtown Pittsfield Sunday?
“Actually, they approached us because they liked the acoustics of the space downstairs," said Robert Malnati, administrator of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority. The bus station in question is the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center. It has a history of playing a variety of roles. The center, opened in 2004, is an Amtrak stop on the Lake Shore Limited line, the center of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus service, part of the Peter Pan intercity bus service, and even has classrooms used by Berkshire Community College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Sunday, the Center will discover a new role: concert hall.
“I am always impressed by the idea of a flash mob, you know, those concerts that occur- or, they’re not really concerts necessarily- but that happen in random places like shopping malls and airports and non-traditional concert venues where all of a sudden people start singing," said Director of the Cantilena Chamber Choir Andrea Goodman. "Well, I thought of doing something like that in the Berkshires, but the only place I could think of that had such good acoustics was the bus station.”
The choir is based out of the Trinity Church in nearby Lenox. The 24-voice choir will be bringing its repertoire into the bus station alongside students from Berkshire Community College, but it won’t be with the surprise of a flash mob.
“You can’t actually show up there and start singing without causing a problem, so we kinda had to plan it with the cooperation with the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority," said Goodman.
She found a willing partner in the BRTA.
“I think it’s something different," said Malnati. "We were part of the Artswalk that happens on First Fridays here in Pittsfield, while we had some art displayed in a gallery at one point in time, so I think it’s just another- something different, something new."
But what kind of song do you bring to a bus station?
“It’s kind of pop, but it’s on the higher end of sophistication," said Goodman. “So have some of that, some Bernstein in honor of his hundredth birthday. Some straight out serious music, classical pieces, not many. Some pieces by a 27-year-old named Steven Feigenbaum, who’s a Tanglewood fellow, on the lighter- so called lighter end. So it’s a lot of fun stuff. We have some Cuban salsa music arranged for chorus with instrument, things like that.”
Goodman sees both novelty and the chance for discovery in the bus station.
“We’ve done concerts at St. Stephens in downtown Pittsfield, Concerts in the various churches, but- well, we’ve also sung in the barn at Hancock Shaker Village, so that’s not exactly traditional- but bringing the kind of music to a place where maybe people don’t feel necessarily that they’d go into a church but certainly the bus station and certainly in a noncommittal way- ‘Oh, I’ll just go in there for a few minutes and see’- and with any lucky, they’ll stick around and hear the whole thing,” Goodman said.
The free concert begins at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Intermodal Transportation Center in downtown Pittsfield.