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Close Encounters With Music will present 'Souvenir de Florence: An Italian Holiday Celebration' featuring the Amernet String Quartet Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. Photo courtesy Amernet String Quartet

Bits & Bytes: ‘Souvenir de Florence;’ ‘St. Ann Sings!”; HeatSmart at GB Green Drinks; David Scribner at Lenox Library; Berkshire Highlanders open house

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By Monday, Dec 4, 2017 Life In the Berkshires

Close Encounters With Music to present ‘Souvenir de Florence’

Xiao-Dong Wang. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

Great Barrington — The Italian fixation that runs deep in the collective artistic psyche will on musical display Saturday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. when Close Encounters With Music presents “Souvenir de Florence: An Italian Holiday Celebration” at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Featuring performances by the Amernet String Quartet, violist Xiao-Dong Wang and CEWM artistic director Yehuda Hanani, the program will include works by Puccini, Vivaldi and Hugo Wolf.

It was de rigueur for 19th century painters, musicians and literary types to make a grand tour to Rome and Florence, imbibe the passion and expressivity that are hallmarks of Italian art, and bring them home to their studios. The centerpiece of the program is Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence,” written as the composer recovered from a disastrous marriage and developed an infatuation with the city that spawned the Renaissance. The showcase of Italian works includes “Chrysanthemums,” the only chamber music Puccini ever wrote; works by the Venetian Vivaldi; Hugo Wolf’s “Italian Serenade”; and a Verdi string quartet.

The Amernet String Quartet holds the position of ensemble in residence at Florida International University in Miami. Their concert schedule has taken them across the Americas and to Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The quartet won the gold medal at the Tokyo International Music Competition and was awarded first prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition. Committed to the music of the current time, they have commissioned works from many of today’s leading composers, working closely with John Corigliano, Orlando Garcia, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Bernard Rands, Chinary Ung and others. The quartet also actively advocates for neglected works of the past and aims to enliven the concert experience through its innovative programming.

Tickets are $15–$50. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Mahaiwe box office at (413) 528-0100.


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‘St. Ann Sings’ Christmas music concert

Young singers rehearse at St. Ann Church in Lenox. Photo: Samantha Talora

Lenox — The voices of St. Ann Church will usher in the Christmas season with “St. Ann Sings! A Christmas Spectacular” Saturday, Dec. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the church. Monsignor John Bonzagni and St. Ann’s music committee will offer a reception for concert attendees immediately following the concert in the adjacent Parish Family Center.

Under the direction of St. Ann music programs director Ron Ramsay and Michael Gillespie, youth and adult ensembles and the youth orchestra will present a program of sacred and popular Christmas favorites. Joining the ensembles will be soloists Karen Cellini, Sandy Morley, Jessica A. Passetto, Matt Passetto and Samantha Talora as well as piano accompanist and music director at St. Charles Church in Pittsfield Joe Rose, violinist Eileen Markland and Gillespie on woodwinds.

There is a suggested donation of $15 per person with a maximum cost of $25 per family. Proceeds from the concert, as well as the evening’s various raffles, will benefit St. Ann’s music fund as it seek to purchase hand bells and timpani for the youth ensemble. For tickets and more information, contact St. Ann Church at (413) 637-0157.


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Green Drinks to discuss HeatSmart initiative

Great Barrington — Great Barrington Green Drinks will hold its monthly meeting Thursday, Dec. 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Prairie Whale. The topic for discussion will be the HeatSmart Mass initiative, for which Great Barrington received a grant on Nov. 15.

The program, a community-based education and group-purchasing program for clean heating and cooling technologies, will piggyback off of the successful Solarize Mass program and will offer bulk discounts on renewable heating and cooling technologies. Members of the team who will be rolling out the program, including Natalie Narotzky and HeatSmart coach Michael Feldstein, will talk about initial plans for the program and some background on how renewable heating and cooling is considered a key component in the climate solutions toolkit.

The event is free and open to all. For more information, contact Natalie Narotzky at nnarotzky@gmail.com.


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David Scribner to speak at Lenox Library

David Scribner

Lenox — The Lenox Library will present David Scribner Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m. for a talk titled “Newspapers in the Digital Age” as part of its Distinguished Lecture Series.

Since the internet has challenged traditional print platforms as the major source of news information, newsmakers in the Berkshires and around the world must now provide a source of both intelligent conversation and local observation via online platforms. Scribner has worked in the newspaper and publishing industry for 36 years. He is the editor-in-chief of the Berkshire Edge, which primarily focuses on southern Berkshire County, an area he knows well due to a recent four-year stint as news editor and reporter at the Berkshire Record in Great Barrington. Previously he served as editor-in-chief at the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield for 10 years and, for four years before that, at the Middletown Press in Connecticut.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Lenox Library at (413) 637-2630.


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The Berkshire Highlanders in the October 2017 parade celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the town of Lenox. Photo courtesy Berkshire Highlanders

Berkshire Highlanders to hold open house

Pittsfield — The Berkshire Highlanders pipe and drum band will hold an open house Wednesday, Dec. 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Berkshire Community College cafeteria. Attendees will meet and learn about the band and playing the bagpipes and drums, and enjoy refreshments and a short concert of pipe tunes. All are welcome, from who are interested in joining the band to those who are simply curious. For more information, contact businessmanager@berkshirehighlanders.org.


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