The region’s cultural highlights this weekend mostly include holiday-themed events, and we’ll run those down in a minute, but first, a few events that have nothing to do with the holidays, for the Scrooges among us.
Composer Justin Hicks and artist Steffani Jemison perform the U.S. debut of Mikrokosmos, in which the two map vocal pitches and gestures to the syllables of contemporary Black American music, including Gil Scott-Heron’s “We Almost Lost Detroit,” in Club B10 at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday at 3pm.
Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Elizabeth Ziman, who performs as Elizabeth and the Catapult, brings her cutting-edge folk-pop to the Barn at the Egremont Village Inn in South Egremont, Mass., on Saturday at 8pm. Ziman’s smart, sophisticated style betrays her conservatory training and her work with jazz artists such as Patti Austin and Esperanza Spalding, Ben Folds, and members of Lucius, Bon Iver, and the Shins. RIYL Aimee Mann, Jonatha Brooke, and Regina Spektor.
Folksinger Reggie Harris and blues guitarist Scott Ainslie join forces in Long Time Comin’, a free concert weaving together spirituals, songs of the Underground Railroad, Civil Rights anthems, work and slave songs, blues, and originals, at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Mass., on Tuesday at 7pm.
As for the rest, it’s all holiday stuff.
Melissa Etheridge brings her band, her greatest hits, and a basket full of holiday tunes to the Ulster Performing Arts Center (that’s UPAC to you) in Kingston, N.Y., on Saturday at 8pm. Etheridge’s “Merry Christmas Baby!” show includes a selection of the Academy and Grammy Award-winning folk-rock artist’s most beloved originals – songs like “Bring Me Some Water,” “No Souvenirs,” “Ain't It Heavy,” “I’m the Only One,” and “Come to My Window” -- alongside holiday classics including “Merry Christmas Baby,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “O Night Divine” and other tunes from her 2008 Christmas album, “A New Thought for Christmas.”
Winter Songfest, a holiday-themed program featuring the Bard College Symphonic Chorus and Chamber Singers with musicians from the Conservatory Orchestra, the Orchestra Now, and the Graduate Vocal Arts Program, takes place in the Fisher Center at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., on Saturday at 8pm. Conducted by James Bagwell, the concert includes early and modern carols, Berlioz’s “The Shepherd’s Farewell”, selections from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” and other traditional holiday favorites.
Also at Bard this weekend, Grammy Award-winner Cécile McLorin Salvant, accompanied by pianist Sullivan Fortner, performs a mix of original compositions, timeless hits, and forgotten gems in a holiday jazz concert at the Fisher Center at Bard College on Sunday at 3pm. Salvant – the youngest person ever to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, and whom the New York Times has mentioned in the same sentence as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald -- brings jazz, vaudeville, blues, and folk music into her own powerful and distinctive style.
The Hudson Valley Philharmonic, under the baton of guest conductor Christine Howlett, performs Handel’s “Messiah” at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, on Saturday at 2pm. Guest vocalists from Cappella Festiva will join the orchestra to perform George Frideric Handel’s most popular choral work, for a total of 100 instrumentalists and singers on the Bardavon stage. Soloists include mezzo-soprano Teresa Buchholz, soprano Katherine Whyte, bass-baritone Joseph Beutel, and tenor Joshua Blue.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com