Bits & Bytes: FODfest 2015; Jeanne Mackin at The Mount; BNRC award; Audra McDonald at the Mahaiwe; Neumann’s ‘Vanishing America’

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By Thursday, Oct 8 Arts & Entertainment
Daniel Pearl, left, performing with Music in Common founder Todd Mack at the Speakeasy in New York City in 1992. The tenth anniversary of FODfest, a concert dedicated to the life and memory of Pearl, will be celebrated in Pittsfield on Saturday.

Music in Common’s FODfest on Daniel Pearl’s 52nd birthday

Pittsfield — On October 10, 2015, on what would have been Daniel Pearl’s 52nd birthday, Sheffield, MA-based nonprofit Music in Common (MiC) will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its flagship concert event, FODfest (Friends of Danny Festival), at Shire City Sanctuary. The 10-year anniversary event will feature dozens of musicians and bands on outdoor and indoor stages from noon to 10 p.m. and is free and open to all. FODfest is a celebration of Pearl’s life that this year also commemorates ten years of Music in Common programming.

The first FODfest took place on October 10, 2005, as an informal jam in singer-songwriter Todd Mack’s backyard to honor the life of his friend and bandmate. Pearl was abducted and murdered by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan in 2002 while working on assignment for The Wall Street Journal. Mack met Pearl when they both lived in Atlanta, a few years after the reporter began his journalism career at the North Adams Transcript and the Berkshire Eagle. “Music was a huge part of Danny’s life and we shared a fervent belief in its power to connect people,” Mack said. “We’ve strived to bring a little part of him to every FODfest ever since.”

The FODfest 10 Year Anniversary concert kicks off with two outdoor stages in the parking lot between Shire City Sanctuary and the Catholic Youth Center, the site of the Shire City Sessions, from noon – 6 p.m. The indoor stage starts at 7 p.m. upstairs in the Sanctuary. Wanda Houston Band, Rev Tor Band, Rob Sanzone, Wes Buckley & A Handbasket, Caroline Mack, Justin Hillman, Soul Prophet & The Faithless Few, Chad Hollister Band, and 8 Foot River are among the many artists who are performing. The festival concludes with a FODjam – a unique format that is part song swap, part jam session, and part concert – that features several musicians onstage at once. Musicians who would like to be considered for a performance slot should fill out an artist request form.

Admission is free but a suggested $10 donation in honor of the 10-year anniversary is welcomed. Food, beer, and beverages will be available for purchase. To volunteer at the event, or for more information email


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Novelist Jeanne Mackin to introduce ‘A Lady of Good Family’

Oct. 10 back Jeanne Mackin

Novelist Jeanne Mackin.

Lenox — Historical novelist and science writer Jeanne Mackin will give a talk entitled “Imagined Landscapes: Beatrix Farrand and ‘A Lady of Good Family’,during which Mackin will discuss her research into the life of the celebrated landscape designer and subject of her latest novel. Sponsored by Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum and The Mount, Mackin will make her presentation at Eastover Estate and Retreat on Saturday, October 10 at 4 p.m. Autographed copies of “A Lady of Good Family” will be available to purchase.

Farrand designed the gardens and grounds at Eastover when the mansion was planned by architect Francis Hoppin and then built in 1910 for New York financier Harris Fahnestock. Prior to her work at Eastover, Farrand designed the main drive and the kitchen garden at The Mount, the Lenox home of her aunt, Edith Wharton. Farrand was a frequent visitor to The Mount and most likely advised her aunt on the garden designs.

Jeanne Mackin received the 2014 CNY award for fiction for her book “The Beautiful American” about the life of photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller. She is a science writer at Cornell University and wrote “The Cornell Books of Herbs and Edible Flowers.

Tickets for the Mackin talk are $22 for advance reservations and $27 day of the event. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. For tickets and information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call Ventfort Hall at (413) 637-3206.


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BNRC receives state conservation award

PittsfieldThe Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) recently presented the Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award to Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), a charitable conservation organization that works throughout Berkshire County.

The award, which is presented only when a worthy recipient is identified, recognizes outstanding contribution to conservation in Massachusetts. This is the first time the award has been presented to an organization instead of an individual.

The Sargent Award was presented to the BNRC in recognition of nearly 40 years of partnership and collaboration with the DFW. According to data assembled by the DFW, BNRC has helped the Division complete 48 projects totaling more than 7,300 acres since 1979.


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Tenth anniversary Mahaiwe gala with Audra McDonald


Singer/actress Audra McDonald.

Great Barrington — The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will present its 10th anniversary gala on Sunday, October 11 at 8 p.m. with singer and actress Audra McDonald. The festive evening will benefit the Mahaiwe’s artistic and education programs and honor philanthropists Dena and Felda Hardymon.

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actress. The recipient of six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Emmy Award, she was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015. Aside from her Tony-winning, she has appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden, Marie Christine (Tony nomination), Henry IV, and 110 in the Shade (Tony nomination). She returns in the 2015-16 season in Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.

The Juilliard-trained soprano’s opera credits include La voix humaine and Send at Houston Grand Opera, and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera. On television she was seen by millions as the Mother Abbess in NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! and played Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s Private Practice, among many other shows. She won an Emmy Award for her role as host of PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center, having previously received nominations for Wit and A Raisin in the Sun. An exclusive recording artist for Nonesuch Records, she has released five solo albums for the label. McDonald also maintains a major career as a concert artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras. At the Mahaiwe, McDonald will be backed by her trio of Andy Einhorn (music director and piano), Mark Vanderpoel (bass), and Gene Lewin (drums).

Tickets are $80 to $150 and more information is available from the Berkshire Edge calendar and by calling the Mahaiwe box office at (413) 528-0100. Gala packages, including premium seating and a preshow dinner catered by Chef Peter Platt of the Old Inn on the Green, start at $500 and are available by calling Dave Barrett at (413) 644-9040 x106.


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Jeffrey L. Neumann’s ‘Vanishing America’


“Twilight II” by Jeffrey L. Neumann.

Millerton, N.Y. — The Moviehouse Studio Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of “Vanishing America,” a solo exhibition of oil and watercolor paintings by artist Jeffrey L. Neumann.

The exhibition will open on Saturday, October 10 at 5 p.m. with a presentation of Neumann’s 30-minute documentary, also entitled “Vanishing America.” The artist will give a gallery talk after the film and a reception will follow until 7 p.m.

Jeffrey L. Neumann was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1953, and currently maintains his studio in Hillsdale, N.Y. He is known for paintings that preserve an American landscape that is rapidly disappearing.

“Vanishing America” will be on display from October 10 through Saturday, January 9, 2016. Admission is free and movie tickets are not required to view the gallery which remains open during theater opening hours. Call (518) 789-0022 for more information.


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