Sunday November 25, 2012

LENOX -- More than 200 singers from throughout the Northeast will converge here Dec. 7-9, for the annual Lenox Caroling Festival.

Choirs and choruses from the Berk shires, the Boston area and as far away as Delaware, will perform outdoors on porches of businesses throughout the village, while competing for $2,750 in cash prizes.

The repertory, selected by choral leaders, ranges from popular carols to music of the Renaissance and Med ieval periods, to contemporary arrangements of traditional holiday music, according to Andrea Good man, artistic director of the festival.

Each of the 10 groups will perform two 20-minute concerts before listeners who will be invited to vote for their favorites. Collective audience opinions will count in the final decisions by a panel of professional musicians and critics.

The winning choral group will receive $2,000 and have its name inscribed on a perpetual trophy created by Berkshire sculptor Andrew DeVries. The trophy was contributed to the festival by the artist. Second and third prize awards are $500 and $250, respectively.

The weekend will begin Friday, Dec. 7, with the arrival of Santa Claus aboard the town’s No. 1 fire engine just prior to lighting of the town tree and carol-singing in Lilac Park.

Santa will then move on to the Community Center to hear holiday wishes, while others attend an open reception at the Ventfort Hall, where last year’s runner-up chorus, The Allegrettos from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams, will perform.

On Saturday, the caroling competition will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m. at four locations in the village.

Then a reception at 4:30 p.m. in the foyer of the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre at Shakes peare & Company, will be followed by a gala concert of all participating choirs and the awards ceremony in the adjacent Shakespeare Studio 3.

Visitors will have two other events to choose from on Saturday night. Shakespeare & Company will present its annual production of David Sedaris’ comedy, "The Santaland Diaries," directed by Tony Simotes, the company’ s artistic director, with actor and comedian David Josef Hansen, as Crumpet, the Elf.

The Greg Caputo Quartet with vocalist Vivian Caputo will perform favorite standards for dancing at Ventfort Hall, which will be decorated for the holidays.

Some of the visiting choirs will perform at Lenox-area churches on Sunday morning.

Gingerbread contest

Sunday will also feature the Eighth Annual Gingerbread House Competition, along with edible confections created by Berkshire chefs. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lenox Library. Proceeds from the Gingerbread House auction and the book sale will go to the library’s education fund.

Following the library event, a Children’s Tea with carol-singing will begin at 3:15 p.m., in Ventfort Hall.

The top two winners of last year’s festival are returning to compete: The Mount Everett High School Madrigals of Sheffield received the 2011 Grand Prize, and the Allegrettos MCLA were last year’s runner-up.

Participating choruses

Other choruses participating include A La Mode, Bristol (Conn.) High School; the Berkshire Hills Chorus of Sweet Adelines, Pittsfield; Cape Henlopen (Va.) Cho r ale,; Lenox Memorial High School A Cappella Chorus; the Lexington (Mass.) High School Madrigal Singers; and the Ridgefield (Conn.) Chor ale Touring Ensemble.

Details are available at www.lenoxcarolingfestival.org.