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Music Makes The Season

Could it really be the penultimate week of 2011? It seems so. And now, as we celebrate the winter holidays, music takes center stage, perhaps more than at any other time of year. It is interesting to contemplate what makes this so. Most obviously, music has always been central to religion, ritual and spirituality. Music gives us Christmas oratorios and carols, spirituals and the Jewish cantorial tradition. For centuries of Western history, sacred music was the dominant form. In non-Western cultures, as well, music accompanies rituals and worship. But perhaps for an even longer time, music has been an intensely social activity, and what brings us together socially more than the holidays? Here are two ways to enjoy the season in the coming weeks. On New Year’s Eve, Berkshire Bach presents Bach at New Year’s, featuring all six of the Brandenburg concertos. Not without reason are these instrumental tours-de-force among the best-loved of Bach’s compositions. Kenneth Cooper conducts the Berkshire Bach Ensemble, which includes the incomparable violinist of the Emerson String Quartet, Eugene Drucker, this year. Bach at New Year’s takes place Sunday, Dec. 31, at 6 p.m. at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. Tickets are $57 or $37. For tickets and information, go to www.mahaiwe.org or call 413-528-0100. After the New Year, a program of English and Spanish Renaissance Christmas music will be performed at the Gunn Memorial Library in Washington, CT. The locally-based Wykeham Consort performs. The players include soprano Matilda Giampietro, Erica Warnock playing tenor and bass viols, Sarah Jane Chelminski on recorder and guitarist Andrew Lafreniere. The program is free and open to the public. It is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 6, at 6:30 p.m. For information, go to visit www.gunnlibrary.org or call 860-868-7586. Here’s wishing all our readers joyful, peaceful holidays and a music-filled New Year. See you in 2012.

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