Sunday, May 19, 2024

News and Ideas Worth Sharing

Bits & Bytes: ‘The Art of Fugue’ at the Mahaiwe; Posh Picnic at Tanglewood; wild foods at Green Drinks; Ascher on Russian Jewish immigrants; waste oil & paint collection

Along with Elizabeth Orenstein, Rosemary Wessel will lead an interactive conversation and demonstration of how to use invasive plant species and common weeds as food.

Aston Magna to close season with ‘The Art of Fugue’

Great Barrington — Aston Magna will conclude its 46th summer season Saturday, July 21, at 8 p.m. at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center with J.S. Bach’s famous work “The Art of Fugue.”

Unearthed from a private music collection in France in 1974, “The Art of Fugue” “shook up the musicological world,” according to Aston Magna artistic director Daniel Stepner. The work has been the focus of vast speculation and interpretation by early music experts, and Stepner will present his own orchestration at Aston Magna’s performance. An expert on Bach, Stepner wrote of the piece: “Perhaps no other work in all of Western music makes more out of virtually nothing. More precisely, no work creates such a grand, many-faceted, truly awesome musical edifice out of the simplest of building blocks…With repeated hearings, the attentive listener will recognize the transformed subject…Playing one or another of the lines in this work gives the player a sense of being inside Bach’s mind, a mind that seems to see every potential for variation and combination in the most basic of ideas.”

Performing at the concert will be Stepner on baroque violin, Christopher Krueger on flute, Peter Sykes on harpsichord, Laura Jeppesen on viola da gamba, Stephen Hammer on baroque oboe, Loretta O’Sullivan on baroque cello and Jason Fisher on viola.

Tickets are $25–$50. A pre-concert talk with Stepner will begin one hour before the program. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call the Mahaiwe box office at (413) 528-0100.


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Berkshire Film & Media Collaborative to hold Posh Picnic at Tanglewood

Kent Jones. Photo courtesy Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative

Lenox — The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative will present its fifth annual Posh Picnic at Tanglewood Sunday, July 22, from noon to 2:30 p.m. The event will raise funds for BFMC’s new Community Film Fund initiative, which will provide support to nonprofit organizations wishing to create video for marketing, fundraising and branding efforts.

The event will honor filmmaker and writer Kent Jones, a Berkshires native whose new feature film, “Diane” stars Mary Kay Place and won Best Narrative Feature, Cinematography and Screenplay awards at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Jones, who has worked on numerous documentaries with Martin Scorsese, is the director of the New York Film Festival. The event will include a gourmet catered picnic lunch on the lawn, an eclectic silent auction, and lawn or shed seating for the matinee performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra concert featuring music of Thomas Adès and Sibelius conducted by Adès with violinist Christian Tetzlaff. A make-your-own Bloody Mary bar will feature vodka Berkshire Mountain Distillers.

The cost of the event is $150 for the picnic with lawn tickets, and $175 for the picnic with shed tickets. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative at (413) 528.4223.


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Pittsfield Green Drinks meeting to discuss wild plants as food

Rosemary Wessel

Pittsfield — Rosemary Wessel will speak at the Pittsfield Green Drinks meeting Tuesday, July 17, at 6 p.m. at J. Allen’s Clubhouse Grille. Along with Elizabeth Orenstein of Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Wessel will lead an interactive conversation and demonstration of how to use invasive plant species and common weeds as food. The plants they will focus on include lamb’s quarters, plantain and dandelion.

As director of No Fracked Gas in Mass, Wessel has been a regional leader in advocating for community health against toxic fossil fuels. She has had a lifelong interest in sustainability and responsible foraging. Orenstein has worked with BEAT since the spring of 2017 and is an avid gardener and botanist.

The meeting will begin at 5:15 p.m. For more information, contact Elizabeth Orenstein at (413) 717-1255 or


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Author Ascher to speak on local Russian Jewish immigration

Great Barrington — On Wednesday, July 18, at 7 p.m., the Great Barrington Historical Society will present author Carol Ascher for a program on the history of Russian Jewish immigrants in Sharon, Connecticut, and Amenia, New York, from 1907 to 1940 at the Claire Teague Senior Center, 917 South Main St.

Ascher will illustrate her talk with a slide show, rare and unusual photographs, and archival items. Her book on the subject, titled “A Chance for Land and Fresh Air,” will be available for sale and signing after the talk. Ascher will discuss the 30 Russian Jewish families who, arriving in America at the turn of the 20th century, soon purchased small farms in western Connecticut near the New York border. The migration was made possible by Baron Maurice de Hirsch, a Belgian Jewish philanthropist who established a fund that offered mortgages and other supports to Jews willing to try their hand at farming. Many of the original families supplemented their farm incomes by offering room and board for summer vacations to Jews living in New York. Around 1920, they began to move 10 miles west to Amenia, transforming the town into a Jewish resort for the next several decades.

Ascher has published a number of books and has received literary awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she studied problems of equality in public schools for many years.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Great Barrington Historical Society at (413) 591-8702 or


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Waste oil and paint collection scheduled

Great Barrington — On Saturday, July 21, from 8:30 to 11 a.m., the South Berkshire Household Hazardous Waste Collaborative will hold a paint and oil collection for the 15 participating towns of Alford, Becket, Egremont, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough, Otis, Richmond, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham and West Stockbridge. The Center for EcoTechnology will coordinate the collections.

Acceptable materials are oil-based paint, oil-based stains, paint thinners, spray paint and turpentine as well as waste motor oil. No other type of oil or fuel will be accepted, nor will latex paint. Empty cans can be recycled with scrap metal. Dried-up cans of latex paint as well as empty cans of oil-based paints, stains and solvents can be disposed of with the regular trash.

Those wishing to participate in the collection must register online or contact Thomas Jakubasz at (800)-369-3333 x142 or by Friday, July 20. Residents from communities that are not participating should call their city or town halls for information about hazardous household product collections.



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