Friday, July 19, 2024

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Bits & Bytes: ‘God’s Trombones’; Gospel Gang Christmas concert; Dept. of Children & Families toy delivery; ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Camphill Ghent; merit award for Stephen Dietemann

Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D–Lenox, worked with the Department of Children and Families' central office to secure a truck and company to deliver toys from Boston to the departments Pittsfield office on Thursday.

W. E. B. Du Bois Educational Series to present trombonist Craig Harris

Great Barrington — On Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m., the W. E. B. Du Bois Educational Series will welcome composer and jazz trombonist Craig Harris and his band to Monument Mountain Regional High School (MMRHS) to perform Harris’ musical interpretation of poet, songwriter and civil rights leader James Weldon Johnson’s “God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse,” which was published in 1927. Five of the work’s seven pieces were written by Johnson in Great Barrington where he summered. The Pittsfield High School jazz ensemble and MMRHS students will team up to open for Harris with a blend of jazz and spoken word poetry. Jill Rosenberg Jones, literary executor of Johnson’s estate, will introduce Harris. The event will be dedicated to Don Quinn Kelley, the co-founder of Lift Ev’ry Voice. Pittsfield educator Shirley Edgerton will pay tribute to Kelley’s memory.

Since exploding onto the jazz scene in 1976, Harris has performed with a veritable who’s who of the most important figures in progressive jazz including Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers, Henry Threadgill and the Roots. A unique sense of concept and a command of the sweeping expanse of musical expression have dominated his past 15 years of activity, bringing him far beyond the confines of the jazz world and into the sphere of multimedia and performance art as a composer, performer, conceptualist, curator and artistic director with projects like Souls Within the Veil, composed to commemorate the centennial of W. E. B. Du Bois’ “The Souls of Black Folk,” and “Brown Butterfly,” a multimedia work based on the movement of Muhammad Ali. “God’s Trombones,” according to Harris, is “based on James Weldon Johnson’s classic collection of poems, refigures inspirational sermons by itinerant Negro preachers.”

The event is open to the public and there is a suggested donation of $10.

–E.E.

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Gospel Gang to present benefit Christmas concert

The Messengers and the Gospel Gang at a 2011 holiday concert at the First United Methodist Church in Pittsfield.
The Messengers and the Gospel Gang at a 2011 holiday concert at the First United Methodist Church in Pittsfield.

Lenox — The contemporary Christian gospel choir the Gospel Gang and the gospel quartet the Messengers will present “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, a Christmas concert benefit the Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations’ (PACC) emergency oil fund and the emergency assistance fund of Construct Inc., on Sunday, Dec. 18, at the United Methodist Church of Lenox.

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” is the seventh annual Christmas concert the groups have presented for the benefit of emergency oil fund. The event has raised over $25,000 to date. This winter, 100 gallons of heating oil will be given on a one-time basis to families that have exhausted all other forms of fuel assistance. The fund is administered through the Salvation Army Pittsfield Corps. Construct Inc. assists, on average, 40 households each winter season with 100 gallons of heating fuel, reaching families in crisis in the 15 villages and hill towns in the southern Berkshire region.

The Gospel Gang and the Messengers are sponsored by the church as part of its musical outreach program. Comprised of more than 20 singers and a full instrumental band, the groups offer an assortment of contemporary Christian music styles including southern gospel, country, blues, urban and northern gospel.

There is a suggested donation of $10 admission fee to the concerts.

–E.E.

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Toys delivered to the Dept. of Children & Families

Pittsfield — The Boston Red Sox have donated 10,000 toys to the Department of Children and Families to be split among four offices, including the Pittsfield area office. Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D–Lenox, worked with the department’s central office to secure a truck and company to deliver the toys from Boston to the Pittsfield office on Thursday, Dec. 15. The toys are available for social workers to take for free and give to the families they work with. For more information, contact Kristen Steinman at (413) 236-1805.

–E.E.

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‘A Christmas Carol’ at Camphill Ghent

David Anderson in "A Christmas Carol."
David Anderson in “A Christmas Carol.”

Chatham, N.Y. — Walking the Dog Theater will present Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at Camphill Ghent.

Performed by David Anderson and directed by Ted Pugh, the work is part of a tour that includes communities in New York, Wisconsin and Connecticut in December and several cities in China and Taiwan in January. Anderson, who is also the theater’s executive artistic director, will perform the piece solo and exactly as Dickens wrote it, giving the audience not only the dialogue in multiple London accents, but the descriptive passages as well. Anderson’s rendition as directed by Pugh is a modern revival of Dickens’ own manner of storytelling.

Admission is $15. For tickets and more information, call Camphill Ghent at (518) 392-2760.

–E.E.

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Architect Stephen Dietemann receives merit award

The Carr residence in Great Barrington, designed by architect Stephen Dietemann. Dietemann was recently given a merit award by the Western Massachusetts American Institute of Architects.
The Carr residence in Great Barrington, designed by architect Stephen Dietemann. Dietemann was recently given a merit award by the Western Massachusetts American Institute of Architects.

Holyoke — During its annual meeting at Gateway City Arts on Thursday, Dec. 1, the Western Massachusetts American Institute of Architects (WMAIA) presented Great Barrington architect Stephen Gerard Dietemann with a merit award for design excellence for the Carr residence in Great Barrington. WMAIA give awards bi-annually to recognize superior work by regional and landscape architects in residential, commercial and landscape work completed within the previous ten years. An independent jury was assembled to select work for awards. The Carr residence was cited for its thoughtful connection to the site, “engaging use of a small amount of space,” successful level changes and creative use of materials.

Dietemann has practiced architecture in the Berkshires since 2000 and has received numerous awards for his architectural work. His projects and architectural reviews and criticism have also been featured in the New York Times, HGTV and the Berkshire Edge as well as regional magazines and blogs. He was interviewed on WAMC in 2013 and presented five of his residential projects at the Berkshire Museum’s BerkshireNow gallery space in 2016. A 1976 graduate of the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Dietemann currently serves on the Great Barrington Design Advisory Committee and has previously served on the town’s planning board.

–E.E.

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