Berkshire Music School students journey around the globe at annual performance


Photo Gallery: Berkshire Music School's Music Marathon weekend

PITTSFIELD -- Taking cues from the 18th century up to the jazz of Duke Ellington, dozens of students at the Berkshire Music School vibrated the Wendell Avenue building on Saturday and Sunday with performances as part of the school's annual marathon.

From as young as 3 to the older age of 84, the musicians performed solo, as duets and ensembles. The pieces ranged from the short to full concertos.

On Saturday, sisters Elodie and Emelyn Theriault, ages 10 and 11, rocked the house. Emelyn started out with an inspired solo performance of "Song of India," before breaking out into a quick-paced duet with her music teacher Tim Weisman for a full throttle 1920s era nickelodeon piano dance number.

Elodie captured the audience with solo performances of "Snowflake Rag," and the famous "Morning Mood" from Edvard Grieg's "Peer Gynt." The song was used in Henrik Ibsen's 19th century play and later again in movies and commercials. After her moving and mature renditions of those songs, she joined Weisman for a performance of Erie Canal.

Emma Thurston, 10, of Cheshire, played four songs, including one she wrote. Thurston, who practices an average of an hour and a half a week, said she likes the piano because "it's calming and I like the sound."

Cedar Keyes, 14, a pianist and eighth grader at Mount Greylock Regional High School, played "Sand Castles" and a moving performance of the contemplative "Autumn Mood." She described the latter piece as "very pretty. I think it has a bit of a gloomy sound to it." Keyes said she just returned to playing in September after taking a year off.

Frankie Pafumi, 9, of Pitts-
field, also played on piano. She said she likes Egyptian music the best and plays "just for fun."

Camp Gordinier, of Lenox, brought the crowd along to his jazz-loving ways with a rendition on piano of Ellington's "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me," and the Glenn Miller Orchestra's "Moonglow."

Gordinier, 73, broke out some quick moving chops for the Ellington song. He said he started playing classical music on the piano as a young child before becoming enthralled by jazz music.

Six years ago, he and his wife Comfort started taking lessons at the school. He also joined the board. "I'm very interested in attracting more of our senior population in Berkshire County" into the school, he said. "I'm one of the older people here." Studies have shown that playing music helps develop cognitive brain function, he said.

Gordinier said he is constantly playing. "I try to practice every day."

On Sunday, the marathon schedule continued with more senior high school musicians playing concertos and ensemble works.

Tracy Wilson, executive director for the school, said the goal for the weekend was to raise $12,000 to help support the school. Each student's performance was sponsored with a donation to the school. Approximately 150 students were scheduled to perform an average of five minutes each, she said.

Next year, the school, which boasts 40 teachers, will celebrate is 75th anniversary. "I'm so inspired when I see these kids perform, sometimes for the first time," Wilson said.

To reach Nathan Mayberg:
or (413) 496-6243


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