Main Street News

Arts in Western Mass

By Published On: May 31st, 2024

Thinking about where I might go and what I might trot out to see in the realm of live performances given my druthers this summer, it was time to poke around and make a few decisions. In the event anyone’s asking, after a bit of whittlin’ here and some slicing and dicing there, I hereby present my personal summer dream/wish list this time around:

The Royal Ballet at Jacob’s Pillow

While dance per se is not exactly my thing, it’d be nearly impossible to pass up the Royal Ballet of the United Kingdom onstage at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, MA, where it will appear July 3 through 7, billed as the sole Royal Ballet appearance in the United States this year. The Royal Ballet is widely regarded as one of the great ballet companies extant.

According to the venue, this summer’s program will feature the US premiere of Secret Things by American choreographer Pam Tanowitz, and a world premiere by Wayne McGregor created especially for Jacob’s Pillow, alongside works by Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan, and Christopher Wheeldon. Along with an array of the company’s dancers, Royal Ballet principals Matthew Ball, Mayara Magri, Marcelino Sambé, Anna Rose O’Sullivan, and Sarah Lamb will perform over the five-day span.

In full swing at Tanglewood

Let’s tool on over to legendary Tanglewood in Lenox, MA, where my choice this summer will, okay, show my age, but I’m all in for the Pretenders on July 16. Coming with summer in full swing, personal preference would find me out on the grass for the evening, watching the lawn do its thing, turning velvety as the sun sets and simultaneously tuning in to such faves as Back on the Chain Gang, Brass in Pocket, and My City Was Gone. The surroundings will leave no wonder why Nathaniel Hawthorne once lived on this land. In fact, the venue is named after his Tanglewood Tales.

Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, annually presents a true smorgasbord of musical selections in what seems like a wickedly compressed bit of time after having been plunked down inside all winter. This time around, in its usual fashion, the BSO offers up solid opportunities for some serious consideration to hoist one’s self off the sofa. Here’s but an eensy-weensy sampling: Broadway Today! Broadway’s Modern Masters with the BSO on July 6. On July 17, internationally renowned pianist Yuja Wang in Seiji Ozawa Hall. Skipping ahead to August 2 and 3, John Williams and Ken-David Masur conduct the Boston Pops Orchestra on John Williams’ Film Night – think several Star Wars films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jaws, for starters. On August 24, Karina Canellakis conducts the BSO performing Beethoven, Brahms, Chausson, and Ravel featuring Leonidas Kavakos on violin. And now you’re on your own!

A Body of Water at Shakespeare & Company

On to Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, where I’m itching to have a look at A Body of Water. The outdoor Roman Garden Theatre serves as the setting for this Lee (A Walk in the Woods) Blessing work. The idea here is that both halves of a middle-aged couple, afflicted with recursive amnesia to the extent they don’t know their own names, wake up one fine day to discover themselves occupying an unfamiliar house on a mountain surrounded by water. Every day is a new day, as the pair daily attempts to put themselves and their lives back together based on things they find around the house and whatever other clues they might uncover. It gets trickier yet when a young woman appears who’s … who? A Body of Water runs June 21 through July 31.

Music on Mount Lebanon

As someone who’s always had something of a soft spot for string quartets, I’m looking forward to the Terra String Quartet landing at picturesque Tannery Pond on the – formerly Mohican lands – grounds of Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY, on August 31. Composed of violinists Harriet Langley and Amelia Dietrich, violist Ramón Carrero Martínez, and cellist Geirþrúður Guðmundsdóttir, the quartet seems to snag most every competition that it enters. In recent times, among its triumphs were the Senior Strings Division gold medal and grand prize at 2022’s 49th annual Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in Notre Dame, IN. On August 31, the quartet plans a program of Mozart’s D-minor Quartet, K. 421; Britten’s First Quartet, Op. 25; and Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet, D. 810.

Headin’ to MASS MoCA

Time for a little noise! The Fresh Grass festival will give autumn a warm welcome at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, from September 22-24. Produced in partnership with MASS MoCA, the FreshGrass Foundation, and No Depression, the 2024 festival will feature Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, The Devil Makes Three, Drive-By Truckers, Béla Fleck, Alison Brown, and way way way more. 

Tough to know what you’ll hear here, beginning early in the morning and cooking along well into the night in an unparalleled atmosphere and surrounded by food choices that include first-class ice cream and other goodies. For those so inclined, onsite camping is available a short walk or shuttle bus ride away. 

If there’s a single thread running through all this, it’s that if there’s a chance to spend time amidst the sublime environs of the Taconic Mountains and the Berkshires, while some of the planet’s finest artists and theater companies do their thing, I’m in! •