In Lee, a dozen offenders cut overgrown brush and disposed of it, picked up litter, and planted grass.
In Lee, a dozen offenders cut overgrown brush and disposed of it, picked up litter, and planted grass. (Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Probation Service)

Bobby Houston and Eric Shamie will host a Spring House Concert from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, to help celebrate the 25th anniversary season of the Berkshire Children's Chorus.

The evening will be held at their home, 30 Rowe Road, Great Barrington, and feature a teaser performance by the chorus. Beer and wine and a selection of gourmet cheese and charcuterie will be served.

Tickets cost $50 per person, with support from Covestro and Salisbury Bank and Trust Co., and may be purchased at the door or in advance by mailing a check to Berkshire Children's Chorus, P.O. Box 18, Sheffield, MA 01257. All ticket purchases and additional donations are tax-deductible.

All proceeds from ticket sales will directly benefit Berkshire Children's Chorus and its mission to provide students with musical experiences that develop personal and artistic excellence, support the growth of positive values and enrich our community.

The chorus has had a strong commitment to selecting singers regardless of their ability to pay full tuition. Scholarships are funded by grants from local cultural councils and through community support.

Since 1990, this extracurricular chorus has been made up of students in Grades 2 through 12, from Berkshire County and northwest Connecticut. Depending on their age, children sing in one of three different auditioned ensembles: Junior Choir, Senior Choir and Coda.


The chorus's sophisticated repertoire helps to broaden the children's horizons, engaging them in challenging musical experiences. Singers learn and perform music from all over the world, and over the years the chorus has taken trips to Europe, Canada, Italy and prestigious venues in the United States, such as Carnegie Hall.

Next up, the Berkshire Children's Chorus will hold its spring concert at 4 p.m. June 12, at the Lee Congregational Church. Special guests will include the Berkshire Children's Chorus's founder, Nancy Loder, as well as many other talented musicians who will join the chorus to help celebrate this milestone anniversary.

Tops in theater

Four regional towns were identified this month among the "30 Great Small Towns for Theater Lovers" by The towns and cities include Lenox, Pittsfield, Williamstown and Bennington, Vt. According to Top Value Reviews communications manager Jamie Weitl, editors selected these small towns based on population, festivals, theater companies, and production budgets.

The editors wrote the following about the region's towns:

Lenox: "Every summer, more than 60,000 theater lovers flock to Lenox, Massachusetts, another sleepy Berkshires town, for Shakespeare & Company's well-known festival. The festival enjoys a high reputation due to the beautiful natural scenery, unbeatable talent and quality production value. "

Pittsfield: "Pittsfield, Massachusetts — yet another charming town located in the Berkshires — is the home of the Barrington Stage Company. Founded in 1995, Barrington is one of the youngest companies featured on this list, but in its short life it has become one of the premiere venues for debuting shows and performers."

Williamstown: "Usually a quiet little town situated in the Berkshires, Williamstown, Massachusetts comes alive when the Williamstown Theatre Festival comes to town. ... True theater aficionados will especially appreciate that the festival draws accomplished actors, designers, directors, and playwrights, as well as fresh, young talent."

Bennington: "Thanks to Bennington College, little Bennington, Vermont is a great destination for theater lovers. The College offers five degree programs in the theatrical arts — including directing, visual arts, playwriting, technical theater and acting — which means there is almost always a play, musical, cabaret, comedy show or musical concert available."

Read the whole list online at:

Cleaning up their act

Lee was one of 20 communities across the commonwealth that were part of an April 21 cleanup of public spaces, conducted by Massachusetts Probation Service's first Earth Day Cleanup initiative.

Lee's Marble Street Field was included in the spruce-up conducted by crews of some 200 probationers. Probation plans to make this Earth Day cleanup an annual event, said Massachusetts Probation Service Communications Director Coria Holland.

In Lee, a dozen offenders cut overgrown brush and disposed of it, picked up litter, and planted grass.

Probationers from the Berkshire County Community Corrections Center and local courts have performed community service projects for Lee for nearly a decade.

"I would like to thank the Community Service Program on behalf of the Town of Lee Highway Department for all the good they have done over the past years in addition to this year's cleanup project," said James Morwicz, an equipment operator with the Lee Highway Department. "It's nice to see that they are giving back."

The Massachusetts Trial Court Community Service Program, which is part of the Probation Service's Office of Community Corrections, booked the cleanup sites through the local Department of Public Works and transported the offenders from one of the state's 18 community corrections centers or one of the courts in the area.

The centers are community supervision sites where offenders must check in several times weekly. Additionally, substance abuse treatment, HiSET preparation and job training are offered at the centers.

"Community service delivers valuable service to our neighboring and nonprofit communities while fostering a sense of achievement for our participants," said community service statewide supervisor David Skocik.

Year-round, probationers across the state perform a total of 300,000 community service hours in lieu of paying court fees.

The work performed by probation is an example of restorative justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with the community at-large, according to Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan. "This work enhances communities and enables offenders to give back in a positive way," he said.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.