Berkshire Theatre Festival has completed casting for its annual production of A Christmas Carol, scheduled to run from December 12 through December 30, 2009. This is fast becoming a Berkshire County holiday tradition and is fun for the whole family. This original adaptation by Eric Hill will once again be co-directed by Eric and E. Gray Simons III, who will also both be featured actors. Featuring a cast of BTF favorites, including 15 local school kids, new this year will be two special nights featuring movie pricing: Sunday, December 20 at 7pm or Monday, December 28 at 7pm when tickets will be $10 each.
Archives for October 2009
The Clark Art Institute (see map) in Williamstown, MA has scheduled a free lecture related to the current exhibition, Steps off the Beaten Path: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Rome and its Environs, to be given by assistant deputy director Tom Loughman on Sunday, November 15, at 3 pm. The lecture, “Picturesque and Heroic: Nineteenth-Century Painters Imagining the Eternal City,” looks at the paradoxes of ancient and modern Rome’s place in the nineteenth century.
Fascinated by both the fantasies and realities of Rome, artists of the nineteenth century created a myriad of differing artistic compositions of the city. Some painters such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot depicted Rome in a rustic and threadbare fashion while others such as Jean-Léon Gérôme portrayed Rome in a hyper-dramatic and grandiose style. Join Loughman as he explores the artistic parallels to Italy’s political and social flux during the nineteenth century.
Technical innovations, artistic daring, and shifting socio-political circumstances led to a dramatic change in the photography of Rome in the late nineteenth century. Photographers of the Eternal City began to capture everyday scenes alongside ancient ruins, Baroque churches, and backstreets, all of which industrialization was rapidly transforming. Through the 100 images in Steps off the Beaten Path, viewers today can step into a Rome that was about to step out of the pre-industrial age. The exhibition is on view at the Clark through January 3, 2010.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm (open daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit clarkart.edu.
The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA has scheduled a free harpsichord recital to be given by Victor Hill on Tuesday, November 3, at 8 pm. The concert will include the first local performance of a newly-discovered Suite in D Minor by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre.
Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre was a celebrated performer and composer at the court of Louis XIV. This Suite in D minor and three others were lost for nearly 300 years and have only recently been re-published by the Broude Trust of New York and Williamstown. The program also features three works of J. S. Bach, the Adagio and Toccata in G Major, Fantasia in C Minor, and Partita in D Major.
Hill studied in Amsterdam with the noted harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt and has played more the 900 concerts throughout the United States and in Europe.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit clarkart.edu.
Williamstown, MA Hotels and Inns
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has scheduled consecutive performances of all nine Beethoven symphonies in a series of 4 programs beginning Oct. 22, 2009. Program 1 is previewed here by Karl Henning.
The notion of performing all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies in just over a fortnight was, I thought, a very musical response on maestro James Levine’s part to the Zeitgeist of safer orchestral programming in the face of tougher economic times. It’s a project, though, which reaches back to the very early days of the Boston Symphony. Georg Henschel led the orchestra in all nine, in each of his three seasons, 1881-1884. This feat was not repeated until March of 1927, when in observance of the centenary of Beethoven’s death, Serge Koussevitzky led the BSO in all nine symphonies (and more besides) in one week. Koussevitzy once again led all nine, though over a broader span of time, on Tuesday afternoon concerts in the 1933-1934 season.
Largely a symphony wherein Beethoven works (with great assurance) within the ‘bounds’ of his forebears Haydn and Mozart, the First nonetheless starts out with a brilliant touch of harmonic misdirection. A symphony normally begins by establishing a key, which in the case of Beethoven’s First is C Major. But the opening chord does not belong to C Major (let alone establish it): it is a C dominant-seventh chord, resolving to F. Even the next chord, G dominant-seventh – which ought to “fix” things – winds up resolving ‘deceptively’ to A minor. Beethoven does indeed set C Major as the key, but in his impertinence, he doesn’t do it by rehearsing for the nth time the hoary old I-IV-V-I. The clearest indication in the First, though, of the dramatic changes which Beethoven will impose upon the genre of the symphony, is in the sped-up third movement, which is still labeled “Minuet,” but is in fact already a characteristic Scherzo.
Neither does Beethoven mask his ambitions in the Second Symphony, but sets immediately out for new musical territory. The first movement of a symphony has given the name to sonata-allegro form: i.e., Allegro, at a fast (cheerful) pace; and the norm had been established by Beethoven’s time of starting out at tempo. It was relatively seldom that Mozart (e.g.) began the first movement with a slow introduction (though we note that Beethoven has now elected to do so with each of his first two symphonies). With the first movement of the Second, it is not the fact of a slow introduction that is any novelty, but its scale: the movement begins with 33 measures at a very slow pace, Adagio molto. This compared to (for example) 16 measures at Adagio which begin Haydn’s “London” Symphony (? 104), or 15 measures at Adagio which introduce the first movement of Mozart’s great E-flat Symphony (? 39, K.543).
The main event on this first program, though, is obviously the great C minor symphony, the Fifth – whose opening motive is one of the most recognizable bits of music on the planet. So much has already been written about Beethoven’s Opus 67, and, if you are reading this the chances are you already know something about classical music, and you could probably write a paragraph about Beethoven’s Fifth, yourself – that I shall content myself with a mere editorial remark about the third movement.
Kurt Masur’s set of Beethoven symphonies from the early 1990s with the Gewandhausorchester was the first recording of the edition prepared by Peter Gülke, an edition whose most salient feature perhaps is the restoration of a repeat sign from the autograph score, which changes the overall form of the third movement Scherzo from ABA’ (as it has traditionally been performed) to ABABA’ (which is how Beethoven designed the Scherzi for the Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Symphonies, e.g.) I wonder which edition the BSO will be playing.
Fate has played the trickster with Levine’s plans to lead the entire series of nine symphonies, and in all events we wish him a speedy recovery from surgery. (Maestro Levine will return to the BSO podium to lead the orchestra in a program of Beethoven’s Sixth and Seventh symphonies, October 30 and 31, 2009.) It will be most interesting to see what Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos does with these staples, in Levine’s stead for the first program.
- Thursday, 22 October, 10:30 (open rehearsal)
- Thursday, 22 October, 8:00
- Friday, 23 October, 1:30
- Saturday, 24 October, 8:00
- All-Beethoven Program
- The Complete Symphonies – Program I
- Boston Symphony Orchestra
- Symphony Hall
- Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Oct. 17, 2009 performance reviewed by Dave Conlin Read.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded the first million-selling jazz album fifty years ago, Time Out, which features Take Five and its unusual 5/4 time signature, and with Mr.Brubeck approaching his 89th birthday, which he’ll celebrate Dec. 6th at the White House while receiving the 2009 Kennedy Center honors, time has prominence in any Brubeck report. Now, and for a long time to come, hundreds of people will be remembering the time they heard the Dave Brubeck Quartet in a sold-out concert at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, including 18 kids who can tell about the time Dave Brubeck sat in with them on “Take the A Train.”
The concert began with a teriffic set of mostly Duke Ellington compostions played by the Berkshires Youth Jazz Ensemble, 17 Berkshire county high schoolers and one Simon’s Rock student. Assembling a student jazz band and giving them the opportunity to perform with jazz masters is a primary function of BerkshiresJazz.org, producers of the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival. The ensemble featured half a dozen wonderful soloists, and at least one double-threat, Jacqueline Doucette of Pittsfield HS, who stepped out from the sax section to sing two songs with more grace and verve than you’d think was available to a teenager.
Youth Ensemble music director Ron Lively of PHS told the audience that he put together the mostly Ellington set because the Duke had been mentor to Dave, and so the number chosen to link the learners to the legend was Take the A Train, with PHS pianist Samuel Landes and Brubeck taking turns at the piano, an 1894 Hamburg Steinway Concert Grand, which this concert’s underwriter, Jim Chervenak, gave to the Colonial in memory of his wife Françoise Nunnallé.
The video clip begins at rehearsal and ends with the concert performance. We’ll add more text and video in the coming days. There is more video at BerkshiresJazz.org.
Boston Symphony Orchestra’s schedule of the complete cycle of Beethoven Symphonies at Symphony Hall has been updated to reflect conductor changes resulting from BSO Music Director James Levine’s recent surgery.
Maestro Levine will return to the BSO podium to lead the orchestra in a program of Beethoven’s Sixth and Seventh symphonies, October 30 and 31, 2009, followed by performances of Beethoven’s Eighth and Ninth symphonies, November 5-7, 2009. Mr. Levine, who was previously scheduled to lead the BSO in the complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies, October 22 – November 7, will be unable to lead the orchestra in the first two programs of the cycle due to the recuperation time needed following his surgery earlier this month for a herniated disc.
Filling in during Mr. Levine’s absence, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the first program of the cycle, Oct. 22-24, 2009, which includes Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 along with the ever-popular Symphony No. 5. BSO Assistant Conductor Julian Kuerti will lead the orchestra in the second program, Oct. 27 and 29, 2009, which includes the Symphony No. 3, Eroica, and Symphony No. 4. Music Director James Levine will also lead the orchestra in performances of Beethoven’s Sixth and Seventh symphonies at Carnegie Hall on Monday, November 2, 2009, as originally scheduled, repeating his Symphony Hall program of October 30 and 31, 2009.
With the Symphony Hall programs, October 22-November 7, the Boston Symphony Orchestra embarks on a history-making endeavor performing a concentrated cycle of the complete symphonies of Beethoven. This marks the first time the orchestra has scheduled such a project in back-to-back Symphony Hall subscription programs and offers Boston audiences a rare opportunity to experience the composer’s symphonic development.
Program 1 (Oct. 27 and 29) opens with Beethoven’s First Symphony, which seems to sum up the Classical symphonic style he learned from the music of Haydn and Mozart. Symphony No. 2, written just two years later, is one of the composer’s warmest and brightest works, and it departs from the earlier Classical style in a number of intriguing ways. The composer’s powerful Symphony No. 5, written over the space of four years and premiered in 1808, is deservedly one of the most recognizable works in all of classical music. From its unmistakable opening four-note motif, often attributed as “Fate knocking at the door,” the work reflects not only Beethoven’s torments and triumphs, but his indisputable genius.
Program 2 (Oct. 27 and 29) features Beethoven’s ground-breaking Symphony No. 3, Eroica, which marks the beginning of the composer’s “heroic” period as well as a turning point in music history. Inspired by Napoleon’s rise to power, it was originally titled “Bonaparte,” but Beethoven reportedly tore the title page in half and retitled the work upon learning Napoleon had arrogantly declared himself Emperor. In contrast to the dramatic tension of the Eroica, the Symphony No. 4 unfurls with a graceful exuberance.
Program 3 (Oct. 30 and 31) pairs two of the composer’s most lyrical symphonies. Nowhere is Beethoven’s abiding love of nature more vivid than in his Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, completed in 1808 around the same time he completed the tempestuous Symphony No. 5. One of the composer’s most popular works, unusually structured in five movements, the Pastoral remains enduringly fresh, with its vivid evocation of a day in the countryside. By the time Beethoven finished his popular Symphony No. 7 in 1812, he was in ill health and growing increasingly hard of hearing.
Yet according to reports, the work’s premiere under his baton in 1813 was one of his greatest triumphs. An audience favorite, the work evokes both stately elegance and sweeping exuberance. Wagner called it “the apotheosis of the dance.” James Levine and the BSO repeat this program at Carnegie Hall on November 2, 2009.
The final program of this historic overview features Beethoven’s final two symphonies, though written more than ten years apart. Program 4 (Nov. 5, 6, and 7) opens with the composer’s jovial, superbly crafted Symphony No. 8. Though Beethoven’s shortest symphony, the composer considered it one of his finest, and it was premiered in 1814. The titanic Symphony No. 9, one of the last pieces Beethoven wrote, was his longest and most ambitious work in the genre. It premiered in 1824, featuring a boldly unprecedented and imaginative use of chorus and vocal soloists in the work’s final movement, a thrilling setting of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy.” These performances feature the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor, and soloists soprano Christine Brewer, contralto Meredith Arwady, tenor Matthew Polenzani, and bass-baritone Eike Wilm Schulte.