Bernay Fine Art will open its latest exhibit, "Walk the Line," with an artists' reception Saturday, Dec. 11 from 4-6. p.m. Image: Noah Post, "Tossed and Turning," detail, courtesy Bernay Fine Art

BITS & BYTES: ‘Walk the Line’ at Bernay; Lenox Preservation Committee hearing; Swingin’ in the Season at Ventfort; Bach at New Year’s; Angélique Kidjo premiere

The Town of Lenox Community Preservation Committee will host a public hearing Monday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m., via Zoom. Residents and members of the Lenox community are invited to give their input.

Bernay Fine Art to open “Walk the Line” with reception Saturday

GREAT BARRINGTONBernay Fine Art will host the exhibit “Walk the Line,” recent paintings and drawings by Noah Post, Lynda Schlosberg, Karin Schaefer, and Audrey Stone, from December 10, 2021–January 9, 2022, at 296 Main Street in Great Barrington.

This new exhibition will show how varied and unique the use of line is for each of these individual artists. There will be an artists’ reception Saturday, Dec. 11 from 4-6 p.m.

—A.K.

 *     *     *

Lenox Community Preservation Committee to host hearing December 13

LENOX — The Town of Lenox Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will host a public hearing Monday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m., via Zoom, followed by a CPC meeting.

Residents and members of the Lenox community are invited to give input on the needs, possibilities, and resources of the town regarding community preservation in the categories of Open Space & Recreation, Historic Preservation, and Community Housing.

Please contact Land Use Director/Town Planner Gwen Miller at gmiller@townoflenox.com with questions or comments if you are unable to attend on Monday evening. Zoom meeting information is posted on the Town of Lenox website.

—A.K.

 *     *     *

Ventfort Hall to host “Swingin’ in the Season” cabaret with Sherri James Buxton

Sherri James Buxton. Photo courtesy the artist

LENOXVentfort Hall will celebrate the season with a holiday cabaret performance by singer Sherri James Buxton, Sunday, Dec. 19 at 3:30 p.m. Bob Shepherd will accompany Buxton on the six-foot, rosewood Steinway piano recently returned to the museum from the Morgan family. The mansion will be decorated for the holiday season, and a tea will follow the program.

Guests will hear seasonal songs from Broadway musicals and the Great American Songbook, as well as traditional favorites and tunes requiring some audience participation. A sing-along of traditional carols, including “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with feature parts for 12 (or more) audience members.

Sherri James Buxton is an elegant interpreter of a wide range of genres, from standards and show tunes to jazz. She combines a lifelong love of melody and lyric with a highly skilled voice. Buxton has appeared on and off Broadway, and in numerous cabaret venues. She got her first professional break at the age of 17 when she was cast as The Girl in an off-Broadway production of “The Fantasticks.” Buxton was in the original Broadway production of “Look to the Lilies” and has performed locally at the Pittsfield Jazz Festival, The Colonial Theatre, The Norman Rockwell Museum, Gateways Inn, Castle Street Café, and other venues. Buxton’s jazz group, the Sherri James Buxton Trio, was the main attraction at Cranwell Resort’s “Music Room” supper club. Sherri teaches at the Berkshire Music School, where her Cabaret Workshop is in its 20th season.

Bob Shepherd has been a working pianist in New England for 70 years.

Tickets are $45 per person, and reservations are required by calling 413-637-3206. Proof of vaccination, ID, and masks are required to attend the performance.

—A.K.

 *     *     *

Bach at New Year’s returns for three live performances

Eugene Drucker
Eugene Drucker. Photo courtesy Berkshire Bach

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Berkshire Bach Society returns to the concert hall live, with nine-time Grammy award winner Eugene Drucker leading the Berkshire Bach Ensemble in three performances of the complete “Brandenburg” Concerti: Friday, Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington; Saturday, Jan. 1 at 3 p.m. at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall; and Sunday, Jan. 2 at 3 p.m. at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Tickets are available at the Berkshire Bach website and through the box office at each venue.

This year’s concerts are dedicated in memoriam to Kenneth Cooper, music director emeritus, who established the popular holiday tradition in 1993 and led the group from the keyboard until 2018.

This is Drucker’s fifth season as music director and his second live presentation of all six “Brandenburgs.” Drucker is co-founder of the Emerson String Quartet and a longtime member and soloist with the Berkshire Bach Ensemble. This year he is joined by distinguished harpsichordist Kenneth Weiss, who plays continuo in each work and takes center stage as soloist in the challenging “Brandenburg” No. 5.

Bach wrote and performed the six works that later became known as the “Brandenburg” Concerti at different times during his tenure in the city of Köthen, where he worked for a music-loving prince and built the court orchestra into a virtuosic performing force. In 1721, he copied the scores and presented them as a set to the young Margrave of Brandenburg in Berlin to satisfy a longstanding commission. It is clear, however, that the Margrave’s musicians were not up to the task of performing the works, which are scored for an unusually wide variety of instruments and are technically challenging. The manuscripts sat in the Brandenburg library undisturbed until their rediscovery in the 19th century, but reportedly were nearly destroyed during World War II, when their evacuation train came under aerial bombardment, and the librarian carrying the scores escaped with them hidden under his coat.

—A.K.

 *     *     *

MASS MoCA 2022 benefit to feature world premiere by Angélique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo
Angelique Kidjo. Photo courtesy MASS MoCA

NORTH ADAMS — “Yemandja,” a new music theater work conceived by and starring four-time Grammy Award winner Angelique Kidjo, will be the centerpiece of MASS MoCA’s annual benefit Saturday March 5, 2022 at 4 p.m. A post-performance cocktail hour will be followed by dinner with the cast and an art auction in MASS MoCA’s Building 6. In addition to the benefit performance, a general admission performance of “Yemandja” will be held Friday, March 4 at 8 p.m.

Inspired by her ancestors, her family, and Africa’s resilience, singer and storyteller Angélique Kidjo’s timely theatrical work is both a family drama and historical thriller, with themes of love, betrayal, honor, and free will. Set in 19th century Dahomey, the West African kingdom that once occupied the territory that is now Benin, the slave trade is omnipresent. In the port city of Ouidah, Yemandja — a deity of water and fertility, portrayed by Kidjo — has given her protégée Omolola a secret gift: the power of song to change the course of history. But there is one caveat: the power only works if one’s heart is pure. As DeSalta, a Brazilian slave trader who has struck a deal with King Akaba and controls the city, kills or enslaves those around Omolola, she struggles to access her song, her desire for revenge threatening to surpass her will to be a positive force.

Written by Naima Hebrail Kidjo, this fully staged production is directed by Cheryl Lynn Bruce, designed by Kerry James Marshall, and features a cast of 14 performers and musicians.

“Yemandja” has been in rehearsals and production as part of MASS MOCA’s artist-in-residency program and will travel to The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Cal Performances in Berkeley, the Kennedy Center, and the Holland Festival following its world premiere.

Saturday, March 5, 4 p.m.
MASS MoCA 2022 Benefit & Performance
On sale January 5
Tickets start at $250

Friday, March 4, 8 p.m.
General Admission Performance
MASS MOCA member pre-sale: January 13
General on sale: January 14
Pricing to be announced

—A.K.