Wednesday, June 19, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: Berkshire Pulse at Kimball Farms; ‘Music Changes the Brain’; Lenox house tour; Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention; ‘One Night Stand’ at Sandisfield Arts Center

According to neuroscientist Paul Lennard, playing an instrument or listening to music can morphologically and functionally change the brains, both in the short and long terms.

Young choreographers collaborate with Kimball Farms residents

Kimball Farms resident Gwen Sears, left, and Berkshire Pulse choreography student Katherine Humes. Photo courtesy Berkshire Pulse

Lenox — Teen participants Berkshire Pulse’s Young Choreographers Initiative were recently matched with senior residents of Kimball Farms retirement community to create collaborative pieces based on their life stories. A presentation of the work combining poetry, prose and movement will take place Sunday, June 10, at 1:30 p.m. at Kimball Farms.

YCI was created in 2016 during a summer dance intensive when a group of students explored choreography as a craft with teaching artists Susan Quinn and Ian Spencer Bell. The intergenerational collaborative project began earlier this spring, when Bell led two workshops at Kimball Farms with residents Ruth Bernak, Bernadine Handler, Gwen Sears and Patricia Moynahan. Together they read essays, poems and stories; looked at dance videos; discussed elements of the craft; and considered how writing could be used in choreography as they created their texts.

YCI choreographers Rubielle Nejaime, Tess Ackiewicz, Katherine Humes and Juniper Shalles met with Bell to discuss his work with the seniors, and shared work samples of choreographers making dances inspired by or incorporating text. The group then read the Kimball Farms writers’ texts aloud and selected pieces that inspired them in crafting their own work. Quinn led three more workshops with the choreographers and, at the last two workshops, the Kimball Farms writers visited Berkshire Pulse’s studios to connect with the choreographers and see the works inspired by their writing.

The performance will feature the writers reading their work followed by presentations of the choreography inspired by those pieces. The audience will then be invited to participate in a discussion with the performers, Bell and Quinn. The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be used to launch and foster future YCI educational workshops and events. Due to limited seating, those who plan to attend are asked to RSVP to


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Neuroscientist to present lecture about music’s effects on the brain

Emory University neuroscience professor Paul Lennard, Ph.D. Photo courtesy Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College

Pittsfield — On Saturday, June 9, at 3 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College’s Distinguished Speakers Series will present Emory University neuroscience professor and Berkshire County resident Paul Lennard in an illustrated talk exploring the science of how music changes the brain.

According to Lennard, playing an instrument or listening to music can morphologically and functionally change the brains, both in the short and long terms. Exposure to music and music training early in life can alter brain development, and there is evidence that the brains of musicians are different from those of non-musicians.

Lennard received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He has taught in Emory University’s biology department since 1979, and has been the director of the neuroscience and behavioral biology program since its inception in 1997. Lennard has traveled to India as a Sager Foundation fellow to teach neuroscience to Tibetan monks. His current interest in the musical brain has been catalyzed by his marriage to Cecylia Arzewski, a former member of the Boston Symphony and Cleveland orchestras and concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Lennard is a recipient of the Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award for Natural Sciences and the Emory Neuroscience Initiative’s Courage to Inspire Award.

Tickets are $15 for the general public, $10 for OLLI and Berkshire Museum members, and free for youth ages 17 and under and Berkshire Community College students. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact OLLI at (413) 236-2190 or


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Ventfort Hall. Photo courtesy Ventfort Hall

Ventfort Hall to present 2018 Lenox house tour

Lenox — In conjunction with the Lenox Rhubarb Festival, Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum will revive its Lenox house tour Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Four houses on the tour, including Ventfort Hall, date from the era of Gilded Age “cottages,” when Lenox was called the “Inland Newport.” Two were designed by a principal of the Boston-based Rotch & Tilden firm, “society architects” of the period.  One sits high on a ridge and is magnificently restored and decorated, and another is filled with fine Asian decorative arts. A newer home, owned by a Boston interior designer and her husband, is situated on property once owned by prominent cottagers.

A descriptive pamphlet and tickets with maps for the house tour are $40 and may be purchased at Ventfort Hall. For descriptions of the houses included in the tour, see the Berkshire edge calendar. To make reservations for the tour, contact Ventfort Hall at (413) 637-3206.


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Bill and the Belles. Photo courtesy Bill and the Belles

Hancock Shaker Village to host Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention

Pittsfield — Oldtone Productions and Hancock Shaker Village will team up to present the Northeast Fiddlers’ Convention Saturday, June 9, at Hancock Shaker Village beginning at 10 a.m.

The host band for the day will be the Johnson City, Tennessee-based Bill and the Belles with Nils Fredland of Revels North. Mandolin player Tara Linhardt will lead workshops and manage the instrument contests. Activities for the day include demonstrations in Shaker arts and music; workshops with Bill and the Belles, Linhardt and Fredland; a jam session in HSV’s Round Stone Barn; instrument contests; and a square dance led by Fredland to music by Bill and the Belles. Locavore food vendors Sky View Farm, Sol Gypsy Food Truck and Seeds Market Cafe will have hot food offerings, and local beer will also be served.

Tickets are $20-$45. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact Hancock Shaker Village at (413) 443-0188.


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Sandisfield Arts Center to stage ‘One Night Stand’ by Larry Zingale

Gray Simons. Photo courtesy Sandisfield Arts Center
Kristin Grippo. Photo courtesy Sandisfield Arts Center

Sandisfield — The Sandisfield Arts Center will present the play “One Night Stand (A Love Story)” by Larry Zingale Saturday, June 9, at 8 p.m.

“One Night Stand (A Love Story)” is three poignant stories of how love remains the same even as the world continues to change. Beginning in Smalltown USA circa 1918 with America’s entry into World War I, it moves forward to New Year’s Eve 1942 in Times Square and concludes on summer night in 1968 as two lonely strangers meet on a darkened New York City street and see their lives change before the sun rises. The cast includes Kristin Grippo, Gray Simons and Frank Gioia with music performed by singer and guitarist Doug Schmolze.

Zingale is an artist who also writes plays. His play “Kate and Bill” was given a reading at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge during the 2016 Made in the Berkshires Festival. “One Night Stand (A Love Story)” recently successful local readings at the Diana Felber Gallery in West Stockbridge and Deb Koffman’s Art Space in Housatonic.

Tickets are $15. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire edge calendar or contact the Sandisfield Arts Center at (413) 258-4100 or



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