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Bits & Bytes: Lucien Aigner Day; Aston Magna opening; Orion editor to address graduates

The famed photojournalist Lucien Aigner called Great Barrington home for over 55 years. Aigner grew up in what is modern-day Slovakia.

Great Barrington proclaims June 24 Lucien Aigner Day

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Selectboard has announced that Sunday, June 24, will be recognized as Lucien Aigner Day in honor of the famed photojournalist who called the town home for over 55 years. At its May 21 meeting, the selectboard signed a proclamation officially recognizing June 24 as a day to honor Aigner.

Aigner grew up in what is modern-day Slovakia. He worked as a photojournalist for a Hungarian newspaper company and was known as a pioneer in the industry for his use of small, handheld cameras made by the German company Leica. During his career, he photographed European news events leading up to World War II. Some of his most famous portrait subjects include United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and physicist Albert Einstein. Aigner died in 1999 at the age of 98.

Some of his photographs currently hang in Town Hall and others were donated to the Great Barrington Historical Society by Aigner’s daughter, Anne-Marie Aigner.

A free exhibit of over 50 of Aigner’s photographs including some of his private works as well as a special display of the Leica cameras similar to those used by him, will be on display from noon to 4 p.m. Monday, June 25, through Sunday, July 8, at Saint James Place.


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Aston Magna to open season with Bach, Telemann, Handel

Soprano Dominique Labelle. Photo: Lino Alvarez

Great Barrington — Aston Magna will open its 2018 season Saturday, June 23, at 6 p.m. at Saint James Place with works by chamber music masters as well as new music by composer Alex Burtzos, all of which will be performed on original period instruments.

The program will include Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; two German arias by Handel; a Telemann sonata; and the new composition, “The Hourglass Equation,” by Burtzos. The featured musicians will be soprano Dominique Labelle; Aston Magna artistic director Daniel Stepner and Julie Leven on baroque violin; Christopher Krueger on flute and recorder; Andrew Schwartz on baroque bassoon; Laura Jeppesen on baroque viola; Loretta O’Sullivan on baroque cello; and Michael Sponseller on harpsichord. A pre-concert talk with Stepner will begin one hour before the program.

Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 at the door and free for full-time students with ID. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Aston Magna box office at (888)492-1283.


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Orion Magazine editor to address Conway School graduates

Orion Magazine editor-in-chief H. Emerson ‘Chip’ Blake. Photo: Sam Beebe

Easthampton — The Conway School of Landscape Design will welcome Orion Magazine editor-in-chief H. Emerson “Chip” Blake as the speaker at its 46th commencement ceremony Saturday, June 23.

As editor-in​-chief of ​Orion, Blake has worked to elevate the publication’s narrative and expand its reach by bringing a new awareness through art and nature writing around the challenges of climate change, social justice and environmental degradation faced by the global community. He served as associate and later managing editor​ for ​Orion from 1992 to 2003. Du​ring his tenure at ​Orion, the publication has received the Utne Independent Press Award for General Excellence and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in the essay​ category. In 2007 ​Orion inaugurated its own literary award,​ ​the​ ​Orion Book Award​.

Essays and publications Blake has edited have been acknowledged by the John Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, the Pushcart Prize, the PEN Literary Award, the Minnesota Book Award, the Oregon Book Award, the Pacific Northwest Independent Bestse​ller List,​ “Best American Essays” and the New York Times’ Notable Books of the Year. He has served as a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts and led discussions on public infrastructure, native storytelling and environmental awareness. In 2016, Blake received an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York’s environmental sciences and forestry program. His most recent editorial work​ includes ​“Wonder and Other Survival Skills,” ​“Animals and People:​​ A Selection of Essays from Orion Magazine” ​and​ “​To Eat With Grace: A Selection o​f Writing About Food from Orion Magazine.”



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