Bits & Bytes: Bach cantata concert; ‘The Politics of Opera;’ Mae Jemison at Williams; Holiday Handcraft Fair

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By Monday, Nov 6 Life In the Berkshires
Soprano Sherezade Panthaki will perform in a Berkshire Bach Society concert of Bach cantatas at the First Congregational Church of Great Barrington Friday, Nov. 10. Photo courtesy Berkshire Bach Society (See item below.)

Berkshire Bach Society to present cantata concert

Myron Lutzke. Photo courtesy Berkshire Bach Society

Great Barrington — The Berkshire Bach Society will kick off its 2017–18 season Friday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 252 Main St., with a selection of short cantatas, vocal and instrumental works by J.S. Bach. A meet and greet with the musicians will follow the program.

Myron Lutzke, long-time cellist with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, will lead the ensemble in performances of the church cantata BWV 82a, “Ich habe genug” (I am content); the secular cantata BWV 209, “Non sa che sia dolore” (He knows not what sorrow is); and other work. The program will also feature an aria (BWV 1127) that was discovered in 2005 at the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar, Germany, which dates from October 1713 and represents a setting of an aria with ritornello for soprano, strings, and basso continuo composed on the occasion of the 52nd birthday of duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar, whom Bach then served as court organist. Indian-born soprano Sherezade Panthaki and St. Luke’s flautist Elizabeth Mann will pair up in the cantatas, showcasing soprano and transverse flute.

Tickets are $30 for general admission and free for children and full-time students with ID. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact the Berkshire Bach Society at (413) 528-9555 or


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CEWM to present ‘The Politics of Opera’ talk

Great Barrington — Close Encounters With Music’s “Conversations With…” series will present “The Politics of Opera,” a talk with political science professor and opera enthusiast Mitchell Cohen, Sunday, Nov. 12, at 3 p.m. at Saint James Place.

Cohen, who combines his academic expertise in political science and lifelong interest in the spectacle of opera in his new book “The Politics of Opera: A History from Monteverdi to Mozart,” will underscore the political dimensions of libretti and ideological elements of opera in his talk. A professor of political science at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Cohen has written for the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement and les Temps Modernes, and has edited “Princeton Readings in Political Thought” and “Rebels and Reactionaries: An Anthology of Great Political Stories.”

Tickets are $20 and include light refreshments following the program. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact CEWM at (800) 843-0778 or


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Astronaut Mae Jemison to discuss the importance of STEM education

Mae Jemison. Photo courtesy Williams College

Williamstown — Engineer, physician and NASA astronaut Mae Jemison will present “STEM: The Importance of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math” Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. at Williams College’s ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance. A reception will follow the talk.

Jemison became the first woman of color to go into space when she flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992. Serving six years as a NASA astronaut, Jemison was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993 and the International Space Hall of Fame in 2004. Prior to NASA, Jemison spent two and a half years as a Peace Corps medical officer in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Committed to science literacy, Jemison founded the international science camp The Earth We Share in 1994 for students 12–16 years old. Jemison’s book “Find Where the Wind Goes” is directed at teenagers and explores her experiences growing up on the south side of Chicago, cultivating her aspirations to be a scientist and her history-making journey into space. Following her time in NASA, Jemison founded the technology consulting firm the Jemison Group and the BioSentient Corporation. Jemison currently leads the 100 Year Starship, an initiative to assure the capability for human interstellar space travel to another star within the next century.

The talk is free and open to the public but tickets are required. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or call (413) 597-2425.


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GBRSS to hold annual handcraft fair

Students enjoy a cakewalk at a recent Holiday Handcraft Fair. Photo courtesy Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School will hold its 45th annual Holiday Handcraft Fair Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To kick off the holiday season, parents and faculty transform the school into a winter wonderland of family fun including puppet shows, hayrides, face painting, candle dipping, and gifts to make and give.

Every family in the Steiner community comes together to create the fair, which includes the Little People’s Shop, where children in fourth grade and below can choose gifts for family and friends; a handcraft room that with warm handmade items; and the Gently Used Shop with books, toys, clothing and home goods. Other highlights of the day will include the puppet play “A Visit to Snow Mother;” a children’s craft room; a cake walk with live musicians; the Pocket Lord and Lady; a silent auction; the Berkshire Country Store; and a cafe serving lunch, warm drinks and homemade desserts.

Admission and parking are both free, and the fair will be held rain or shine. All proceeds from the fair will benefit GBRSS programs and students. For more information, call GBRSS at (413) 528-4015.


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