A big silence starts season

Friday September 21, 2012

Silence will usher in the Berkshire Symphony season. There'll be two silences, in fact, one of them the prelude to a big blast.

John Cage's famous (or infamous) 4'33", consisting of nobody playing music for that length of time, opens the orchestra's first concert of the season on Nov. 2. In a larger void, the mixed student-professional group will skip its usual second autumn program to make way for three centennial performances of Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" in March.

With the summer glut past, other Berkshire classical concert-givers will carry on in more traditional modes for the fall-winter season. Close Encounters with Music, the Berkshire Bach Society and South Berkshire Concerts have two programs each scheduled. Concerts also remain in the end-of-summer series at South Mountain and Tannery Pond.

Augmenting the live programs, the Met's HD simulcasts resume -- 12 productions in all, running through April.

Williams College, as usual, offers the fullest and most eclectic programming by any presenter.

The Berkshire Symphony's homage to Cage is one of two Williams programs noting the 100th anniversary of the experimental, sometimes puckish composer's birth. On Oct. 27, the I/O Ensemble, a new-music group, will give a program of his sonatas and interludes.

The idea behind 4'33" is to let the audience experience the sounds around it as a kind of music.

The college-sponsored orchestra's adventurous program also contains two world premieres: "Every Day Blues" by faculty member Andy Jaffe and the Double Concerto for flute and clarinet by Robert Kyr, who teaches at the University of Oregon.

Jaffe's work is a tribute to Ernest D. Brown, a faculty colleague and fellow jazzman who died last year. The concerto soloists will be the orchestra's principal flutist and clarinetist, Floyd Hebert and Susan Martula. Weber's "Turandot" Overture and March and Hindemith's "Metamorphosis" on themes by Weber, including one from his "Turandot" round out the program.

Director Ronald Feldman describes in Hindemith-Weber link as a "cool pairing."

Centennial performances of Stravinsky's revolutionary ballet score, which had a riot-torn 1913 premiere in Paris, are already under way in New York. Williams' dance and theater departments will join the Berkshire Symphony in three re-enactments on March 8 and 9, 1913. Because of the added expense, a second fall concert has been dropped.

Other Williams programming is heavy on world music and jazz. For classical concerts, faculty and student musicians provide much of the firepower. Visiting artists include the Gotham Early Music Scene, Escher String Quartet and veteran pianist Frank Glazer.

The emphasis is educational as well as artistic. "Performing and experiencing live music is an essential element of a liberal arts education," music department chairman W. Anthony Sheppard writes in the season brochure.

Another unusual pairing takes place elsewhere this weekend. Tannery Pond Concerts presents the husband-wife duo of cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han in recital on Saturday night. Finckel then joins his colleagues in the Emerson String Quartet in a South Mountain program on Sunday afternoon.

The two appearances signal a turning point in Finckel's career. After 34 years, he leaves the Emerson at the end of the 2012-13 season to devote full time to his other chamber music ventures, including the collaboration with his wife.

The Tannery Pond program is the series' season finale. South Mountain has concerts remaining by the Brentano and St. Lawrence string quartets (Sept. 30 and Oct. 7).

In South County, Close Encounters leads off a seven-concert season with "Dually Noted," a program by Russian duo-pianists Natalia Lavrova and Vassily Primakov. On Dec. 9, the early-music group Tragicomedia gives a program of Italian baroque cantatas.

Berkshire Bach, with its chorus disbanded, carries on with the traditional "Bach at Zimmermann" coffee-house program on Oct. 28 and "Bach at New Year's Eve" concert -- both under harpsichord-conductor Kenneth Cooper. The New Year's Eve program travels to Northampton on Dec. 30 and Troy, N.Y., on Jan. 1.

South Berkshire Concerts opens Saturday night with a program of "Baroque Masters" by a trio headed by the renowned viola da gamba player Wieland Kuijken. On Nov. 4, mezzo-soprano Pamela Dellal appears with pianist Larry Wallach in a Schumann-Copland song recital.

The popular Met simulcasts begin on Oct. 13 with Doni zetti's "L'elisir d'amore." Showings take place at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Beacon Cinema and Clark Art Institute, with a complete series of encore performances scheduled at the Mahaiwe.

Among other events, the New Marlboro Meeting House series will present violinist Daniel Stepner and pianist Robert Levin in recital tomorrow. Separately, American Double, the violin-piano team of Philip Ficsor and Constan tine Finehouse, will appear in Sheffield on Oct. 6.

And, as always, the area's choruses will be active in a variety of programs.


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