Leaf-Turning Autumn Music in the Berkshires

We’re talking Beethoven, Ravel, Chopin, jazz, blues, folk, gospel, Judy Collins, Van Morrison, Pink Martini, a concert with no set start or end point, and Ringo Starr

By Grace Lichtenstein

 

Music performances in the Berkshires don’t screech to a halt on Labor Day weekend. Through September and October, mostly on weekends, popular and classical offerings—old favorites and new discoveries—await not only at Tanglewood, but at other venues in the Lenox-Stockbridge-Great Barrington-North Adams area, and in Northern Connecticut too. And there’s a bonus: It’ll be leaf-turning time.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Knights will perform at The Clark on Sept. 4 and 5.
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The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown hosts concerts in its auditorium and outdoors on Fernandez Terrace and Moltz Terrace.

Sept. 4 at 4 p.m. The Knights Orchestra offers a complement to the Institute’s Rodin in the United States: Confronting the Modern exhibit. On the bill: Ravel, Debussy, and a special arrangement of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Violin Sonata that The Knights call “Kreutzer Concerto.”

Sept. 5 at noon. The Knights family concert is an introduction to classical music aimed at younger audience members.

Sept. 24 from 2-5 p.m. “Meander” arrives with the Manhattan School of Music percussionists and New Chamber Ballet dancers. Attendees literally roam around the Clark campus as the performers engage in a self-paced event with no start or end point.

Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. Trumpeter Jonathan Dely and his band of jazz, pop, and American Songbook selections engage in a cross-genre performance.

Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. The classical pianist Gabriel Quenneville-Bélair does Ravel, Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, and the premier of three concert études by local composer Stephen Dankner.

Pink Martini

Pink Martini, featuring China Forbes, appearing at the Mahaiwe on October 28.
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Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, the 120+ year-old marquee Great Barrington theater, spotlights jazz guitarist Pat Metheny Sept. 3. Pink Martini, the multilingual, classical/jazz/pop band, shows up on Oct. 28.

Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker headlines at FreshGrass on September 25. Photo by Derrek Kupish.
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MASSMoCA, North Adams’ sprawling contemporary art museum brings Gary Clark, Jr., Tanya Tucker, plenty of guitar and banjo playing, plus late-night barn dances, to FreshGrass, its annual family-friendly fall music event on stages indoors and out, Sept. 23-25.

The Merz Trio

The Merz Trio performs September 3 and 4 at Music Mountain.

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Music Mountain is located at Falls Village in the northern Connecticut Berkshires. Chamber recitals in its Gordon Hall feature renowned musicians amid superb acoustics.

Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. Merz Trio stages an interactive performance that includes audience participation and a Q&A. Rameau, Boulanger, and others will also be on the program.

Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. Merz Trio performs with clarinetist Oskar Espina-Ruiz.

Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. The American String Quartet appears with Octavio Vázquez on the piano.

Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. Cassatt String Quartet shows up with guitarist Eliot Fisk.

Wanda Houston

Wanda Houston is at Naumkeag for the final evening of its live music series, September 8.
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Naumkeag, the grand Gilded Age country estate and gardens in Stockbridge, ends its evening live music series Thurs. Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. with Wanda Houston, veteran Berkshires diva of gospel music, jazz, blues, and pop—who once toured with the Platters.

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Sandisfield Arts Center, once a Baptist meeting house and then an Orthodox synagogue, is now a thriving nondenomenational cultural space for films, lectures, art, and music.

Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. Chris Brubeck and Triple Play perform their crossover jazz-blues-folk on piano, harmonica, acoustic guitar, electric bass, bass trombone, and even jaw harp. Yes, he’s the son of Dave Brubeck.

Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. brings Linda Mironti, Brian De Lorenzo, and Special Friends, along with a fancy dessert and Prosecco.

Oct. 16 at 4 p.m., pianist Frederick Moyer shows up. He’s also a computer programmer and inventor with multiple patents. Wielding his MoyerCam projection system during the Covid shutdown, he performed over 200 concerts, reaching homes across the country.

David Finckel, Wu Han, Philip Setzer

Violinist Philip Setzer of the Emerson String Quartet joins pianist Wu Han and cellist David Finckel. Also appearing: violinist Arnaud Sussmann and violist Matthew Lipman, October 9 at South Mountain Concerts.
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South Mountain Concerts, in a nature preserve situated off a dirt road between Lenox and Pittsfield, get under way each year around Labor Day. Located in a historic 1918 building, it spotlights some of the best-known chamber players in the world.

Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. The Telegraph String Quartet performs both chamber music and contemporary pieces.

Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. The Calidore String Quartet, which won the inaugural $100,000 M-Prize (the richest in chamber music), performs Mozart, Bartok and Brahms.

Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. The Emerson String Quartet, retiring in 2023 after more than four decades together, offers Haydn, Ravel and Beethoven.

Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. The St. Lawrence String Quartet takes the stage, rendering Mozart with its irreverent approach to the classics and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s third quartet, which borrows from this Viennese Romantic’s brilliant 1930s and ’40s film scores (The Adventures of Robin Hood … The Sea Hawk … King’s Row).

Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. It will be a varied late afternoon into evening with Wu Han, piano; David Finckel, cello; Philip Setzer, Arnaud Sussmann, violins; and Matthew Lipman, viola.

Judy Collins

Judy Collins shows up at Tanglewood September 3.
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Tanglewood draws to a close with three sensational pop concerts Sept. 3-5. First up is Judy Collins, still going strong at age 83 after half a century of folk, pop, Sondheim and standards. Richard Thompson, the iconic English guitarist and singer-songwriter, is also on the bill. Then come Van Morrison (sold out) Sept. 4 and a drummer named Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band Sept. 5.

If these choices don’t ring your chimes, check out additional music at venues such as the Guthrie Center near Great Barrington, Williams College in Williamstown, the Lenox Jazz Stroll in Lenox, and the Stationery Factory in Dalton.

 

MUSIC FOR THE SOUL, FOOD FOR THE STOMACH
And for sustainable, locally grown edible sustenance in the Berkshires, try these dining spots, recommended by exacting, opinionated locals:

Great Barrington
Agaves
Café Adam
GB Eats

Housatonic
Pleasant and Main Cafe

Lenox
Frankie’s Ristorante
Pizzeria Boema, located inside the Sienna Patti Gallery

North Adams
Trail House Kitchen & Bar
Public Eat + Drink
The Break Room (reopens Sept. 14) located in the revitalized Greylock Works mill

Stockbridge
Once Upon a Table

Williamstown
Mezze Bistro & Bar
The Barn Kitchen & Bar located in the Williams Inn

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Grace Lichtenstein is a former New York Times reporter and bureau chief, the author of six books and a contributor to numerous national magazines.

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