Bits & Bytes: Alison Larkin LIVE! at Mahaiwe; Cantilena Chamber Choir performs Copland, Bernstein

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By Wednesday, Apr 29 Arts & Entertainment

Alison Larkin show benefits Montessori School of the Berkshires

Alison Larkin

Alison Larkin

Great Barrington — Internationally acclaimed comedienne and bestselling author of The English American, Alison Larkin will perform a sneak preview of her new show, Alison Larkin LIVE! at 7 p.m. on May 2 at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center.

Adopted into a loving English family, and later finding her birth mother in Bald Mountain, Tennessee, Alison became a stand-up comic, because what else do you do? Her first one-woman show on the subject, from which her novel sprang, played to packed houses and high critical acclaim on both sides of the pond. In her hilarious new show, Alison will talk about her adoption, England, America, life in the Berkshires and how to brew the perfect cup of tea.

This special performance will benefit The Montessori School of the Berkshires (MSB), with proceeds supporting the Financial Aid Fund.  In recognition of National Foster Care Month, MSB will be donating a portion of regular ticket sales to Berkshire Children & Families, a local agency that connects foster and adoptive families with children in need.

“My parents sent me to Montessori, which I loved as a young child,” Larkin said. “When I heard that the Berkshire Montessori School in Lenox had an adolescent program for 7th and 8th grade, my teenage son went to check it out. The program is truly outstanding and he is blossoming there. I’m thrilled that this evening will make it possible for other children to have the same experience. It’s the kids who are encouraged to think independently who can – and will – change the world.”

Larkin has appeared on and off Broadway with the Royal National Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company. As a stand-up comic she was a regular headliner at the Comic Strip in New York and the Comedy Store in Los Angeles and spent three years under studio contract to star in her own sitcom with CBS, ABC and Jim Henson Productions. Her novel, The English American was a Vogue “most powerful book of the season,” a Redbook book club pick of the month and is under development to be turned into a movie, with Alison writing the screenplay. Alison’s unusually wide range of voices can be heard all around the world – from Firesign theater’s production of “The Wonderful World of Oz,” in which she co-starred with Annette Bening, Phyllis Diller and John Goodman — to work by James Cameron, the Coen brothers and The Wonderpets. Since moving to the Berkshires in 2010 Alison has narrated almost 100 audiobooks including The English American for which she won an Audiofile earphones award.

“Alison Larkin offers hugely entertaining, marvelously light-footed reflections on how we become the kind of people we think we are . . . nature versus nurture, the eternal search for roots and the ups and downs of the great Anglo American love affair — a lesson in the human conditions,” said The London Times’ Clive Davis.

Regular ticket prices range from $30-55, and a premium ticket including a post-show, on-stage reception is $100. To reserve tickets, call the Mahaiwe box office at 413-528-0100 or visit www.mahaiwe.com.  For more information contact Marya LaRoche, Director of Development, at mlaroche@berkshiremontessori.org, 413-637-3662.

— H.B.

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The Cantilena Chamber Choir

The Cantilena Chamber Choir,. with founder and director Andrea Goodman (center front)

Cantilena Chamber Choir performs Copland and Bernstein

Lenox–The Cantilena Chamber Choir will present a concert of choral music by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland at Trinity Church at 88 Walker Street on Sunday, May 3 at 3:00 p.m. Selections will include the complete “Old American Songs” setting for orchestra and chorus by Copland and Bernstein’s music from “Candide,” “Wonderful Town,” and more.

The “Boatmen’s Dance,” “The Dodger,” and “Simple Gifts” are just a few of the “Old American Songs,” a set of ten songs transcribed by Irving Fine and loved by choral singers everywhere. “Wonderful Town,” with music by Bernstein and lyrics by the famed duo Comden and Green, will be a lot of fun and a new venture for the Choir – a move to Broadway! Joining the Choir will be the Northern Berkshire Chorale, a choir of faculty and staff from the Williams College community in Williamstown, Mass.

Members of the Cantilena Choir rehearse weekly throughout the year, during which they perform several concerts. They travel from as far as Williamstown and towns “over the border” in New York. Many of the singers are members of other groups as both soloists and choristers. Their commitment and joy of singing is evident each week as they drive in rain, snow, sleet and ice to attend rehearsals (we even have a mailman among us!). Members include young mothers and fathers, retirees, home builders and lawyers, in addition to professional musicians. But as they begin rehearsing, their various backgrounds fade as they become a cohesive, musical ensemble whose focus is on the highest quality performance of the highest quality music of the last seven centuries.

The Cantilena Choir, now in its eleventh season, recently received a Peers grant award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and is a recipient of the prestigious Choral Arts New England’s Alfred Nash Peterson Award for unique programming. Andrea Goodman, the founder and director of the choir, also serves as the Music Director for the annual summer Saratoga Choral Festival in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Tickets for the May 3 concert may be purchased at the door or in advance through the Choir’s website, http://www.cantilenachoir.org/. For reservations, call 518-791-0185 or write satb@yahoo.com. All tickets are $30, seniors $20, and children are admitted free.

— Paula Farbman


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