County Fare | Adams resident sings her way through Cuba

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Adams resident Morgan Middlebrook is in the midst of celebrating a trip of a lifetime. The young woman received a grant back in the spring to sing in the Smith College Alumnae Chorus (SCAC) tour through Cuba, which began on Saturday and continues through this Sunday.

The group organized this tour in partnership with Classical Movements, a touring company for both professional and amateur ensembles. In addition to rehearsing and performing with a Cuban men's choir and orchestra, the tour will also feature opportunities to visit Havana and the surrounding area, experience Cuban music and dance, and engage in a variety of cultural activities.

In addition to singing with the group, Middlebrook was also selected to sing a duet from Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater." The group is also performing Vivaldi's "Gloria."

"I am so excited to travel to Cuba at such a pivotal point in history," Middlebrook told County Fare before embarking on the musical journey. "Collaborating with Cuban musicians on this tour will give me a unique opportunity to experience Cuba in a way that going on my own could not offer. From other musical tours I've participated in, I can say that music breaks down linguistic, cultural and political barriers, and I am thrilled to be part of that."

In addition to the SCAC, Middlebrook has performed as a soloist for the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge Choir, and has been a part of the Berkshire Lyric Theatre and Ubi Caritas groups.

'Bikers for Books' roared through towns

Unistress Corp. employees, their spouses and friends participated in the inaugural "Bikers for Books" ride on Sunday morning to benefit the Berkshire Book House initiative, launched earlier this year by Berkshire United Way.

Twenty-three motorcycle riders, plus three participants in chase cars, departed from the Unistress garage at 11 a.m. and traveled 65 miles through Pittsfield, Richmond, West Stockbridge, Stockbridge, South Lee, Tyringham, Becket, Washington, Hinsdale and Dalton, returning to Unistress just before 2 p.m.

The primary objective of the ride was to move the Berkshire Book House in Tyringham, which was initially installed on a roller cart outside the town Post Office, to a higher traffic area in the nearby Tyringham Park. This entailed mounting the Book House on a pre-built slab, which was donated by Unistress Corp.

Teri Billington, maintenance supervisor and hiring coordinator for the company said, "Unistress employees are encouraged to be 'community minded' and we look for opportunities to combine community involvement with employee camaraderie." Ultimately, these "out of company experiences" support a more cohesive workplace by reducing stress, improving employee morale and cultivating teamwork; the result of which aids in improving Unistress' retention rate and helps them achieve their company goal of becoming one of the Berkshires' Employers of Choice.

Billington went on to say, "The Bikers for Books ride seemed to be a perfect way to get more of our employees involved in this project and add an 'exclamation point' to the work we completed for Berkshire United Way a few weeks earlier, building and installing the slabs used for freestanding Book Houses throughout the county."

So, it appears Berkshire United Way and the children of Tyringham weren't the only beneficiaries of this volunteer based, community minded initiative. At the end of the ride, several participants approached Billington and said, "This was awesome! What are we doing for our next project?"


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