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The Berkshires

  • WAM announced its 2024 season yesterday and we’re going to hear about the planned productions and initiatives.Co-Founding Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven, friend of the program, recently abdicated that position and this morning we get to meet the new AD – Genée Coreno – she joins me in studio along with Associate Artistic Director Talya Kingston.
  • Touki Delphine, an artist collective of musicians, performers, and visual artists, brings its multimedia work FIREBIRD, inspired by composer Igor Stravinsky’s 1919 “Firebird Suite,” to the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., with viewings today and Saturday. The “rule-breaking” concert program includes an “orchestra” of light -- over 600 recycled car taillights sourced locally in the Berkshires -- that will illuminate the dance of the firebird. (Fri-Sat, Feb 2-3)
  • An exhibition featuring design sketches, models and watercolors for film and theater by the award-winning designer Carl Sprague, a native of Stockbridge, Mass., is on view at Opalka Gallery at Russell Sage College in Albany, N.Y., now through Friday, February 23. Carl Sprague’s career as a designer spans stage and screen. He has worked in the art departments of more than 40 films, which between them have a combined total of 35 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture-winner 12 Years a Slave.
  • Trailblazing pianist and composer Conrad Tao combines repertoire from the Western canon as well as provocative contemporary works in “Poetry & Fairy Tale,” a program featuring works by Johannes Brahms, Todd Moellenberg, David Fulmer, Rebecca Saunders, and Maurice Ravel, in EMPAC Concert Hall at RPI in Troy, N.Y., tonight at 8pm. (Fri, Jan 19)
  • Boston-based German-American new-folk singer-songwriter Antje Duvekot brings a new batch of songs featured on last year’s terrific comeback album, New Wild West, to the Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio, in Albany, N.Y., tonight at 8pm. Duvekot’s confessional folk has garnered her the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival Best New Folk Award, and a Boston Music Award for Outstanding Folk Act. RIYL Shawn Colvin or Dar Williams. (Fri, Jan 12)
  • Before I run down the weekend highlights, I want to tell you about the movie Poor Things, which in the flood of holiday movies and in its curious style is hard to pin down in any mainstream manner and might have been easily overlooked. My shorthand for this movie is feminist Frankenstein meets Kasper Hauser with a happy ending. Emma Stone is brilliant in this sexy sci-fi black comedy, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and also starring Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbott, and Jerrod Carmichael.
  • This week I am going to tell you about a handful of my favorite books that I read this past year, starting with The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Riverhead, 2023). It’s no surprise that awards and recognition are pouring in for the latest novel by James McBride. McBride’s deep and abiding appreciation for Americans of many flavors and varieties – especially but not limited to Blacks, Jews, and racist Whites – along with his uncanny ability to tune into the frequencies of relationships between the various figures as well as their hopes and fears, make this a startling tour-de-force, all in the form of an immensely readable and entertaining mystery. McBride’s sensitivity seemingly knows no bounds, as well as his profound insights into how subcultures work on their own and in relation to one another. This is a Great American Novel.
  • John Pizzarelli returns to the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, Mass., on Saturday at 8 p.m., with a trio performance titled Stage & Screen. Pizzarelli’s newest show, with Michael Karn on bass and Isaiah J. Thompson on piano, focuses on music from the Broadway stage and the silver screen. Also at the Mahaiwe this weekend, Irish-Canadian music power couple Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy return with their show, A Celtic Family Christmas, on Sunday at 7 p.m. (Sat, Dec 16; Sun, Dec 17)
  • Hudson Valley-based world music outfit Rosza brings its blend of music from Eastern Europe, including Gypsy, Hungarian, Balkan, and klezmer, to the Down County Social Club (DCSC), beneath the Stagecoach Tavern at Race Brook Lodge, in Sheffield, Mass., tonight at 8pm. The group’s music is colored by the distinctive vocals of Katalin Pazmandi. (Fri, Dec 1)
  • Typically Thanksgiving weekend is a quiet time on stages around the region, but this weekend there are in fact a wealth of very promising concerts from which to choose.