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Smooth Sounds of the Season

The Music Scene

The renowned jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra brings its indelible and timeless brand of “adult contemporary” music to the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington for a pre-Christmas concert.
The group got its start more than 35 years ago in Buffalo, NY, still its home base, as simply “Tuesday Night Jazz Jams,” and has made nearly 30 original albums since, including one platinum and two gold, plus several “best of” compilations. Their most recent CD, released just this year, is A Foreign Affair, a blend of the band’s signature smooth sound with Latin rhythms.

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Music Ancient and Very Ancient

The Music Scene

According to retailers, we are now well into the holiday season.
The music scene says the same thing, too.
This weekend brings two opportunities to enjoy the time-honored, candlelit holiday event, lessons and carols, a blend of bible readings, traditional carols, and choral music. Hotchkiss School in Lakeville has its annual Festival of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Hotchkiss Chapel.
Early arrival is encouraged as seating is limited.

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The Hols Are Here, And So Is the Music

The Music Scene

It seems only fitting on this holiday to reflect on the extraordinary musical riches around us. From Tanglewood to Music Mountain, the Mahaiwe to the Warner, Infinity Music Hall to the Towne Crier, Bard to the Bardavon, and many music places in between, we are awash in places to enjoy music. What makes this more noteworthy is the incredible span of musical genres available to us.
There is truly something for everyone.

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Easter, Not Christmas, and, No, George Stayed Seated (Were He There at All)

The Music Scene

Here are a few things you might not know about Handel’s great oratorio, “Messiah.”
First, despite being a Christmas tradition, it was written for Easter. The climactic Hallelujah follows Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension.
Second, King George II never did stand up for the Hallelujah Chorus ­— let alone rise at the sight of a courtesan or leave for the bathroom — and may never even have attended a performance of it. So don’t stand up when all those people who believe these tales do.

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A-Liszt at Hotchkiss

The Music Scene

Franz Liszt occupies an odd niche in music history. A charismatic, dazzlingly virtuosic pianist, at his peak, and a daring, inventive composer, he is probably less well-known today than all of his Romantic contemporaries and near-contemporaries, from Beethoven through Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, and Brahms.
I bet that a search of concert programs would find him firmly in last place compared with his overworked peers. Yet the Hungarian-born Liszt probably had as much or more influence on music than any one of them.

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Into a Time of Light

The Music Scene

As a member of Christine Gevert’s Crescendo chorus, I have a privileged view of the musical mind of our conductor, and also of the composers aired in our semiannual concerts.
The next one, “Bach: Darkness to Light,” takes place Nov. 12 and 13. It is, to use a shopworn but nevertheless apt expression, a journey, not only for the singers but for the audience, too.

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Opera Fans, Start Your Engines

Music Scene

Time was, only a few years ago, that short of a hike to the Big Apple, the only way to enjoy the Met was on WAMC radio (Alan Chartock’s animosity notwithstanding). Not that it isn’t still a most enjoyable and easy way to experience great opera; I am especially enamored of the voice of Met announcer Margaret Juntwait, who replaced the venerable Peter Allen (for those of us with a long memory of Saturday afternoons by the radio). Plus on radio you can listen to the entertaining Opera Quiz at intermissions. And no purchase is necessary.

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Chat With an Indigo Girl

The Music Scene

   Amy Ray has been one half of the Indigo Girls, the folk-rock duo that has thrilled a wide, deep and loyal fan base for more than a quarter-century. Their close harmony, driving guitar and original songwriting has scored them two platinum (“Closer to Fine,” “Swamp Ophelia”) and one gold (“Nomads Indians Saints”) albums.

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A Vegetative Bachanalia

The Music Scene

Berkshire Bach opens its 22nd season with an unusual recital for harpsichord and flute titled “Venus Flytrap.”
The name refers to a movement of an original work by the composer Victoria Bond for solo harpsichord called “Peculiar Plants,” to be performed by harpsichordist and Berkshire Bach music director Kenneth Cooper.
“I composed ‘Peculiar Plants’ for Kenneth Cooper as a contemporary interpretation of the Baroque suite,” Bond writes. “Instead of each movement representing human characters or their dances, I chose plants with unusual characteristics.”

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Leaves May Turn, But the Beat Goes On

The Music Scene

Even as the summer music festival scene fades to a pleasant memory, there is plenty of outstanding music-making in our region as the leaves turn and the leaf peepers arrive.
The Hudson Valley Philharmonic revs up its concert season under music director Randall Craig Fleischer with an ambitious program of oft-played and lesser-known classics. The acclaimed Duo Parnas, string-playing sisters, will join the orchestra on violin and cello for the Vivaldi Double Concerto in B-flat major and Saint Saens’ “La Muse et la Poete,” Opus 132.

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