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Culture to Do: Jan. 24, 2024

'Oblivion, Angelus: The Music of John Aylward' will be on Classical NEPM on Sunday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.

Oblivion, Angelus: The Music of John Aylward
Listen Sunday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. on Classical NEPM
The broadcast will feature Aylward’s entire one-act opera Oblivion and selections from his ten-song monodrama Angelus. Oblivion explores the afterlife, in all its spiritual, mythological, and existential aspects. Angelus is a personal work that reflects on the history of displacement and isolation that John Aylward's mother encountered as a child refugee in Germany after WWII.

PanOpera: In Our Opera Era
Northampton Center for the Arts
Saturday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m.
PanOpera is “a professional ensemble committed to the equitable development of high-quality, diverse, and innovative operatic performances meant to enrich the cultural tapestry of the Pioneer Valley.” Their first concert of the year will present iconic arias, scenes and ensembles from Così fan tutte, Cavalleria rusticana, I Pagliacci, Lucia di Lammermoor, Tosca, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and Street Scene. Singers include sopranos Emily Baker and Evangelia Leonits; mezzo-sopranos Rachel Abrams and Katherine Saik DeLugan; tenors Joshua Collier and George Eisenhauer; and baritones Cailin Marcel Manson and Liam Shannon.

Berkshire Opera Festival Chorus Community Sing-Along
Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield
Saturday, Jan. 27 at 1 p.m.
If you've ever wanted to sing some of opera's greatest choruses, here’s your chance. Berkshire Opera Festival is holding their the first-ever Berkshire Opera Festival Chorus Community Sing-Along. Singers of all ages and abilities are welcome to join in to sing some opera choral classics alongside BOF’s chorus and members of the larger Berkshire singing community, including the Berkshire Concert Choir. This event is free; registration is required.

Amanda Shaw
Hawks & Reed, Greenfield
Friday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Energetic Louisiana fiddler Amanda Shaw blazes trails with her clever songwriting and exciting performances. With over 20 years of experience, Shaw captivates audiences of all sizes — from intimate listening rooms to national television audiences. She blends authentic Cajun culture with endearing local charm, delivering shows that burst with Louisiana flavor.

Annual Margaritaville Event
Herrell’s Ice Cream, Northampton
Through Sunday, Jan. 28
If you’re getting tired of winter, or just want to have some fun, throw on your shorts and go to Herrell’s on Thornes Marketplace for a taste of summer. Margaritaville flavors this year include Berry Tequila Tango, Mango Sorbet, Mango Ice Cream, Coconut Chocolate Chip, Pina Colada, Aloha Sunrise, Key Lime Cream, Strawberry Banana and, (my likely choice) Spicy Pineapple Margarita. Several of the flavors being served this year were winning flavors from recent UMass ice cream making competitions — food science at its best.

Easthampton Theater Company: Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song
CitySpace, Easthampton
Weekends, Friday, Jan. 26 – Sunday, Feb. 4
The life of Arnold Beckoff, a torch song-singing, Jewish drag queen living in New York City, is dramatized over the span of the late 1970s and 1980s. Told with a likable, human voice and considerable humor, Torch Song follows Arnold’s odyssey to find happiness in New York. All he wants is a husband, a child, and a pair of bunny slippers that fit, but a visit from his overbearing mother reminds him that he needs one thing more: respect. The production is directed by Jason Rose-Langston, produced by Jason Rose-Langston and Michael O. Budnick.

Wendell Post Exhibit Opening Reception
Wendell Meetinghouse
Friday, Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m.
Here’s the chance to see a bit of local journalistic history. Wendell Meetinghouse will host an opening reception for an exhibition of 40 enlarged covers of the Wendell Post. The opening reception includes classical guitar music by Fran Doughty, a panel of Wendell Post artists and contributors, and sharing of community stories and memories of the production and impact of the publication. The Wendell Post newspaper was published between 1977 and 2001. Cover pages include original art and stories about events, personalities and issues from Wendell and the region.

20th Annual Penguin Plunge
Hampton Ponds State Park, Westfield
Saturday, Jan. 27 starting at 11:30 a.m.
A benefit for the Amelia Park Children’s Museum, the Penguin Plunge is tons of fun even if (or perhaps particularly when) you are not going in the water. Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m. and the plunging starts at 1p.m. New this year: a Petite Plunge for children ages 2 – 6. Little ones will have the opportunity to dip their toe or boot into a kiddie pool. Games like cornhole and a “snowball” toss will be added to the activities. Plus there will be S’mores and other refreshments and lively musical entertainment.

Evening of Illumination
Old Sturbridge Village
Saturdays, Jan. 27, Feb. 10, and Feb. 24
How did New England families spend their evenings before the intrusion of texting, telephones, TVs, and computers? Tour the historic Village, select homes and shops lit only by candles, oil lamps, lanterns, and firelight to see how early New Englanders spent their evenings in the days before electricity. You will be treated to music and storytelling throughout the tour and will see Village artisans at work by candlelight. Each tour will begin with hot cocoa or coffee and will conclude in the Bullard Tavern, where you can enjoy warm beverages and light fare. This program is designed for adults.

MASS MoCA Free Day 2024
North Adams
Saturday, Jan. 27
Free for all who walk through the doors, MASS MoCA’s annual community celebration rocks the galleries with thematic museum tours, art-making in Kidspace, FIREBIRD installation viewings, a scavenger hunt, meet & greets with community organizations and more.

Amherst Railway Society: The Railroad Hobby Show
Eastern States Exposition, West Springfield
Saturday, Jan 27 and Sunday, Jan. 28
In the mid-1950s, a small group of University of Massachusetts students and faculty members who shared a common interest in railroads started meeting regularly to share railroad knowledge, photographs, and stories. In the early 1960s, the group started a railroad themed “bring & buy” swap meet on the university campus. In 1982 the fledgling group decided to take a big risk and move the swap meet to the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield. Sponsored by Amherst Railway Society, The Railroad Hobby Show now draws 25,000 people and is one of the most respected railroad shows in the country.

ArtWorks Gallery Exhibit: BLUE
Workshop13, Ware
Saturdays and Sundays, 1 – 4 p.m. through Feb. 25
ArtWorks Gallery’s latest exhibition features works of art exploring the color blue and its various psychological and symbolic associations. Works on display represent a wide and varied range of materials and approaches, including ceramics, printmaking, watercolor, photography, charcoal, paint, mixed media, and more. Workshop13 Cultural Arts and Learning Center is a rural non-profit arts innovator located in Ware, Massachusetts and devoted to increasing the appreciation and accessibility of the arts and strengthening the creative life of the community through instruction, collaborations, and arts-based initiatives.

Sensing Nature at the Clark: From the Outside In
The Clark, Williamstown
Sunday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m.
Clark educators lead a slow engagement with nature and art, focused on enhancing wellbeing. This new program, offered seasonally, encourages visitors to connect deeply with the landscapes on the Clark’s campus and in the galleries. The event begins outdoors, with a short, mindful walk in the woods designed to engage your senses with the natural environment. An experience in the galleries using the same contemplative approach to explore one or two works of art follows.

Led by an Evil Spirit: Lesser-Known Witches of New England
Historic Deerfield 2024 Winter Lecture Series
Sundays, Jan. 28, Feb. 25 and March 24 at 2 p.m. on Zoom
Outside of the well-known witchcraft outbreak at Salem and Essex County in 1692, there were other cases that resulted in trials of people suspected of covenanting with the Devil in order to harm their neighbors. These crises reveal fascinating details about community life in seventeenth-century New England towns and the fears and recriminations that sometimes resulted in the executions of those deemed to be servants of Satan. The series includes lectures on witchcraft in Springfield and Hartford. This virtual series is free.

Sweet Petunia
The Parlor Room
Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Sweet Petunia, established in 2018, is a queer alt folk duo from Boston, MA composed of Mairead Guy (they/them) and Madison Simpson (she/her). Over the past five years they’ve broken hearts all across the US from Richmond to Chicago to San Francisco. They’ve been praised for their haunting, interchanging harmonies, and their ability to bring to life something as mundane as catching a stranger’s eye in a poetic ode, to the love that can be found in the smallest of places.