The big art news this week was of course the announcement of next summer’s performance season at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Highlights of summer 2015 at Jacob’s Pillow include “Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host,” a special dance and radio stage production starring public radio’s Ira Glass of This American Life fame, with Monica Bill Barnes; the return of Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (NDT2); Alonzo King LINES Ballet; Dorrance Dance, featuring Michelle Dorrance, one of the top contemporary tap dancers and choreographers, with live music by Toshi Reagon; and the launch of Martha Graham Dance Company’s 90th Anniversary season, including a world premiere by eminent choreographer Mats Ek.
This weekend’s cultural highlights include the opening of an exhibition by one of the region’s top outsider artists, a chamber music concert featuring Baroque holiday music; and a concert by the Diana Ross of the Hudson Valley.
Actress Lili Taylor, director Tony Gilroy and screenwriter Andrew Osborne will take part in the 16th annual Williamstown Film Festival, which began this past Wednesday and runs through Saturday, featuring 31 films, several parties, and events at Images Cinema and MASS MoCA. Director-screenwriter Tony Gilroy, best known for his Oscar-winning thriller “Michael Clayton” as well as the Bourne movies, will pull back the curtain on the art of cinematic suspense in a multimedia presentation in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA tonight at 8pm, as part of the Williamstown Film Festival’s proceedings. And on Saturday at noon at the Williams Inn, Lili Taylor and her husband, writer Nick Flynn, talk about the art of turning books into movies.
Neshama Carlebach, leading superstar in Jewish Entertainment, continues the legacy established by her father Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. His deep spirituality and love of all humanity filled every song he wrote and touched every person he encountered as he changed the face of Jewish music.
Like her father, Neshama's talent and charisma captivate and endear her to people of all ages and backgrounds as she performs and teaches in cities worldwide. With her incredible band and in collaboration with The Glory to God Singers, she continues to both deeply move and entertain as she sings her father's incomparable melodies and inspiring original compositions.
An out-of-towner and even a relatively aloof local can easily get lost in the windy roads of the Berkshires. And while thousands of people flock to the area for big name arts and cultural destinations, if you make a wrong turn on your way, you might just find a hidden gem.
Choreographer Kyle Abraham and his ensemble, Abraham.In.Motion, will unveil “The Watershed,” a new, evening-length work in Abraham's signature blend of classical form, postmodern invention, and urban influences in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday, at 3pm. The dance tackles subject matter from the Emancipation Proclamation to the end of Apartheid in South Africa, and is set to a score that incorporates contemporary cello, soul favorites by Otis Redding, and more.
Brooklyn-based world dance outfit People’s Champs will lay down global rhythms for a dance party at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday at 8pm. Led by trombonist Alex Asher and fronted by vocalist Cole Williams, the People’s Champs blend electro-accordion riffs, neo-soul vocals, and gritty drum grooves into a new global fusion. The music is rooted in popular dance music from around the world, and the lush arrangements never lose track of the dance floor. The band mixes jazz, hip-hop, rock, and soul from the United States, Latin America, and Africa, and the result is a passionate new brand of soul music that is equal parts Gorillaz, Michael Jackson, Fela Kuti, and Ornette Coleman.
This week’s highlights include several chamber music concerts, a visit from a classic folk-rock group from the late 1980s, a star-studded literary event, some old-fashioned rockabilly, a few new art shows and a salute to an avant-garde film pioneer.
There’s no question about it – the big cultural event of the weekend in our region in Freshgrass, a three-day festival of roots and bluegrass music at MASS MoCA in North Adams. The lineup is stunning, really a who’s who of traditional and progressive bluegrass as well as country and roots music. At the top of the list is the unparalleled Emmylou Harris, who was born to sing bluegrass and country music, given her voice’s innate high lonesome sound. Also on the bill are the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Railroad Earth, David Grisman Sextet, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Valerie June, Rodney Crowell, Aoife O’Donovan, Sam Amidon, and the Infamous Stringdusters. Other performers include Sam Bush, the Gibson Brothers, Alison Brown, Valerie June, Michael Cleveland, Claire Lynch, Darol Anger, and Martha Redbone Roots Project. All told, the event promises to be a kind of all-star festival of American country and roots music. That’s Freshgrass at MASS MoCA – today through Sunday.