Bits & Bytes: First Fridays Artswalk; Festival of Books; Vishtèn at the Guthrie Center; Crescendo auditions; cemetery walk

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By Tuesday, Aug 30 Arts & Entertainment  1 Comment
A painting by Walter Pasko of boats on Maine's Monhegan Island will be included in Pittsfield's First Fridays Artswalk on Friday, Sept. 2.

First Fridays Artswalk

"Chamber" by Melissa Matsuki Lillie.

“Chamber” by Melissa Matsuki Lillie.

Pittsfield — The First Fridays Artswalk on Friday, Sept. 2, from 5 – 8 p.m. will encompass more than 15 art shows and three live performances and feature over two dozen regional artists. The Artswalk will kick off with opening receptions and artists present throughout. A free guided walking tour will begin at 5 p.m. at the BRTA Intermodal Center. The evening will culminate with a free afterwalk party from 8 – 10 p.m. at the Whitney Center for the Arts.

The BINGO! Gallery at Shire City Sanctuary will present the work of local quilt artist Karen Pratt during the month of September. The art gallery at Bagels Too will be showcasing intimate landscapes by Walter Pasko throughout September. The Berkshire Museum will feature abstract collages and paintings by Melissa Matsuki Lillie in its BerkshireNow Gallery Friday, Sept. 2 – Sunday, Nov. 20. Berkshire Organization for Original Music will present free, original music performances from 5 – 7:30 p.m.: the Chain Letter will perform at the Adam Hinds for State Senate campaign headquarters at 2 South St., Good Good will perform at Crawford Square at 137 North Street, and ukulele-wielding-singer/songwriter Francesca Shanks will be at the Crowne Plaza.

New shows from local artists will also be displayed at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Berkshire Paint and Sip, the Whitney Center for the Arts, Steven Valenti’s Clothing for Men, Hotel on North, Dottie’s Coffee Lounge, the Marketplace Café, and the Kinderhook Group Real Estate.

For more information on First Fridays Artswalk, call Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. at (413) 443-6501.


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Spencertown Academy to present Festival of Books

Ruth Reichl.

Ruth Reichl.

Spencertown, N.Y. — Spencertown Academy Arts Center will hold its 11th annual Festival of Books will take place Saturday, Sept. 3 – Sunday, Sept. 5. The festival will feature a giant used book sale, two days of author discussions and readings, and a children’s program. Featured authors this year include Christopher Breiseth, Elizabeth Brundage, Michelle Hoover, Courtney Maum, David Pietrusza, Ruth Reichl, Russell Shorto, Will Swift, Mark Wunderlich and Steve Yarbrough. Admission to all events, with the exception of the early book-buying opportunities detailed below, is free.

The Festival will begin at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, when prizes will be awarded to the top entries in the Festival’s Teens’ Short Story and Poetry Contest. At 12:15 p.m., poet Mark Wunderlich will read from his work. At 1:30 p.m., novelists Michelle Hoover and Courtney Maum will discuss the narrative strategies of using one voice vs. many voices. At 3:00 p.m., author and food writer Ruth Reichl will talk about the joys of shopping for local ingredients, cooking, and eating in Columbia County and the Berkshires in conversation with Madaline Sparks, principal of Madaline Sparks Garden Design and Spencertown Academy board vice president.

Russell Shorto. Photo: Keke Keukelaar.

Russell Shorto. Photo: Keke Keukelaar.

On Sunday, Sept. 4, at noon, novelists Steve Yarbrough and Elizabeth Brundage will discuss the importance of setting. At 1:30 p.m., nonfiction author Russell Shorto will give a talk titled “From Amsterdam to New Amsterdam” in which he will discuss water, the common thread that connects his two most recent books. At 3 p.m., a panel discussion titled “FDR’s Legacy From the 1930s” will include scholars Christopher Breiseth, David Pietrusza, and Will Swift.

On Saturday, Sept. 3, from 9:30 – 11:15 a.m., the Festival’s children’s program will feature a visit from the costumed character Pete the Cat of Eric Litwin’s children’s book series as well as make book-related art projects with Chatham art teacher Susan Grybas.

A book sale featuring more than 10,000 gently used books, will be open to the public on Saturday, Sept. 3 from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 4 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; and Monday, Sept. 5, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Spencertown Academy members will have first crack at the books with wine and cheese at the Members’ Preview Party on Friday, Sept. 2, from 6 – 8 p.m. Admission is $25 and tickets and memberships will be available for purchase at the door. Shoppers and book dealers who want first pick of the stock can take advantage of an early-buying opportunity on Saturday, Sept. 3, from 8 – 9:30 a.m. for $20.


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Guthrie Center to present Vishtèn



Great Barrington — On Friday, Sept. 2 at 8 p.m., the Guthrie Center will present the Canadian folk trio Vishtèn.

Hailing from Prince Edward Island and from the Magdalen Islands of Quebec, Vishtèn features twin sisters Emmanuelle and Pastelle LeBlanc joining musical forces with Pascal Miousse to form a signature sound that combines harmonies, layered foot percussion, and acoustic and electric instrumentation. The band makes use of fiddle, guitar, accordion, harmonium, whistles, piano, bodhrán, jaw harp, moog, electric guitar and percussion to fuse Celtic and Acadian genres with a modern sensibility of rock influence.

Tickets are $20 for Guthrie Center members and $25 for nonmembers. For tickets and more information, call the Guthrie Center at (413) 528-1955.


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Crescendo to hold auditions for new members

Lakeville, Conn. — Crescendo will hold auditions in all voice parts for its Chorus and its Vocal Ensemble during the first two weeks of September for those interested in joining the organization for its upcoming concert season and beyond. Crescendo’s 2016-17 season will include performances of Renaissance, Baroque, contemporary and Latin American repertoire. Performances will take place in Litchfield County and the greater Great Barrington, Massachusetts, area, including Saint James Place and the Norman Rockwell Museum. A spring performance will include the world premiere of the multimedia work “Paintings in Song: Visions of Norman Rockwell” by John Myers, composed for Crescendo Chorus, children’s voices, soloists and instruments and centered around nine images by Rockwell. To schedule an audition, send a request to:


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Stockbridge Cemetery walk

Stockbridge cemetery

The Stockbridge Cemetery.

Stockbridge — On Saturday, Sept. 3, at 4 p.m., volunteers from the Stockbridge Library‘s Procter Museum & Archives of Stockbridge History will present a walk through the Stockbridge Cemetery entitled “Smart from the Start: 275 years of Education in Stockbridge.

Since Stockbridge’s founding as a mission and school, the town has been home to a large number of schools and teachers from public to private. The tour will explore who was teaching, and what they taught and to whom.

The walk will gather at the cemetery gate on Main Street (Route 102). A $5 donation is suggested. For more information, call the Stockbridge Library at (413) 298-5501.


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  1. Susan Triolo says:

    Earlier this week, Alan Charlock on WAMC /Albany public radio commented on the great writing by Heather Bellow of the Berkshire Edge. This was in reference to Heather’s news stories on the incidences of drunk driving by GB & Sheffield police officers. I’m new to the Berkshire Edge. I agree, Heather’s writing and choice of stories covering local community news & events is great. Though I’m from Franklin County, I really enjoy getting to know about life in the Berkshires – the news and the arts scene. Thanks for a great online paper.

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