It’s a big weekend in the greater Berkshire region for the performing arts, with a panoply of chamber music, folk-rock, dance and musical theater, just for starters.
One of the biggest surprises of the summer season is that alternative rock titan Beck is making one of his only concert appearances in the entire northeast not at SPAC – where I saw him years ago, and not in Boston, but at MASS MoCA in North Adams. Beck is one of the most critically acclaimed and influential creative forces in rock music over the past 20 years, and this concert comes on the heels of the release of his terrific album “Morning Phase,” a career-topping album that harkens to the heyday of 1970s California folk-rock and, to my ears, one that recalls Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks.” I’ve been listening to it nonstop for months now, and I’m hoping he plays plenty of songs from it at his show at MASS MoCA this coming Tuesday at 8pm. There’s even an opening act who is not exactly a slouch – some guy by the name of Sean Lennon. Tickets are still available for that show, as they are for another concert this weekend at MASS MoCA, this one on Sunday headlined by Iron and Wine, the musical vehicle of acclaimed singer-songwriter Sam Beam. There’s also a new installation going up at MASS MoCA, called Stasis Horror, featuring more than 80 of Christopher Chiappa's riotous paintings - executed on stools – which can be viewed in the Hunter Center hallway at MASS MoCA starting on Saturday. So you may just want to get a room at the Porches Inn for the weekend and make a vacation of it at MASS MoCA.
OR, you may want to head to Becket where The Hong Kong Ballet opens the summer season at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. The troupe is performing an eclectic program in the Ted Shawn Theatre through Sunday, featuring dances by a crew of international choreographers including Nacho Duato, Krzysztof Pastor, and National Ballet of China resident choreographer Fei Bo, danced to music by the likes of Bach, Vivaldi, Elgar, and Karl Jenkins.
Or maybe musical theater is your thing, and if so, you are in luck. One of the all-time classics of the genre, Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate,” opens the mainstage season at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, playing now through Saturday, July 12. Based on William Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” the musical is getting rave reviews across the board. Also at BSC, “Working on A Special Day” - a new play about a life-changing encounter between an overworked housewife and a mysterious bachelor on May 8, 1938 – the day Rome celebrates Hitler’s visit to Mussolini’s Italy – is running on the second stage now through Sunday, July 6.
Chamber music fans have a wealth of concerts from which to choose. At Tannery Pond Concerts at the Darrow School in New Lebanon, N.Y., violinist Axel Strauss and pianist Ilya Poletaev will perform works by Mozart, Schumann, and Prokofiev, and Enescu on Saturday at 8pm. At PS21 in Chatham, Repast Baroque, an early music trio, presents the ninth annual Paul Grunberg Memorial Bach Concert on Sunday, at 2pm. And for those who prefer their chamber music with a contemporary feel, contemporary string quartet Ethel – which I like to think of as a baby Kronos - will perform “Grace,” an adventurous program featuring works by film composer Ennio Morricone, rock songwriter Jeff Buckley, jazz artist Vijay Iyer, and the incredibly hot new music composer Nico Muhly, at the Mahaiwe on Saturday at 8pm.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of Berkishire Daily and the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com