The highlights of the cultural weekend in our region include neo-soul, new music, chamber music, the Mendelssohns, Mahler, and a whole lot more.
The Grammy Award-nominated French-Cameroonian neo-soul duo Les Nubians bring their silky-smooth blend of R&B and Francophone hip-hop to MASS MoCA in North Adams as part of the citywide O+ Festival on Saturday at 8 p.m. With roots in slam poetry, a cappella singing and backup vocals for other artists, Les Nubians remain one of the most exciting and well-respected French-language, Afropean artists in the world.
It’s the PlayWorks Weekend at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass., with staged readings of new plays tonight through Sunday. Plays to be presented include American Underground by Brent Askari; Citizen Scientist by Christina Quintana; and Grant & Twain by local playwright Elizabeth Diggs. In American Underground, an interracial couple enjoys a visit from their college-aged son when a young Muslim woman arrives at their back door looking for safe passage via a new Underground Railroad. In Citizen Scientist, an actuary and an astronomer meet while exploring the starfield for exoplanets. Together, they discover the planet Kepler-64b and learn what it means to be present here on Earth. And in Grant & Twain by Elizabeth Diggs, Ulysses S. Grant is bankrupted in a Wall Street swindle, and his friend, Mark Twain, makes the wild claim that if he publishes Grant's memoirs, he will make it the biggest success in history.
Mikael Darmanie & the Warp Trio bring their unusual approach to chamber music to PS21 in Chatham, N.Y., on Saturday at 7 p.m. Somewhere in between chamber music ensemble, rock band, and art project, the trio offers dynamic interpretations of popular music, improvisation, and unique takes on classical repertoire. Music will include works by contemporary Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, Bartok’s Piano Sonata, an Impromptu of Schubert, the Arabesque of Schumann, plus an arrangement of the Black and Tan Fantasy by Duke Ellington and an arrangement of something from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Sir Elton John.
Fans of the Mendelssohns are in luck this weekend as Concerts in the Village – the village being Kinderhook, N.Y. – presents “Fanny and Felix – The Brilliant Mendelssohn Siblings” on Saturday at 4 p.m. The concert features soprano Katherine Rossiter with the Broad Street Chamber Players and pianist David Smith. The first half of the program will be devoted to Fanny Mendelssohn’s songs and her remarkable String Quartet in E-flat. After the interval, the Broad Street Orchestra will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet, op. 20. The concert takes place on Saturday at 4 at Van Buren Hall in Kinderhook.
The Bard Conservatory Orchestra Tackles Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 tonight at 8 and Sunday at 3; rock singer-songwriter Ray Mason is at the Dream Away Lodge in Becket, Mass., on Sunday; and comedian Brian Regan is at UPAC in Kingston, N.Y., on Sunday.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com