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Classical music fall preview: A solid season with surprises | The Berkshire Eagle

By Andrew L. Pincus, Special to The Eagle

Easily the strangest program in the Berkshires’ fall classical-music season comes from The Orchestra Now, which travels from Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., to Bard’s Simon’s Rock campus on Oct. 7.

The concert begins and ends more or less conventionally with Sibelius’ “Valse triste” and Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 (the “London”). Less conventionally, even zanily, in between comes Heinz Karl Gruber’s “Frankenstein!!” which the Austrian composer describes as “a pan-demonium for chansonnier and orchestra after children’s rhymes by H.C. Artmann.”

Make that two orchestras, since some of the sounds come from “a cupboard full of toy instruments.” The moral, according to Gruber: ” the monsters of political life have always tried to hide their true faces, and all too often succeeded in doing so.”

Made up of advanced music students directed by Bard president Leon Botstein, The Orchestra Now will be led here by associate conductor James Bagwell. Baritone Nathaniel Sullivan, a student award winner, is listed as soloist. The work was last performed in the Berkshires — probably the only previous performance here — about 30 years ago by students of the Tanglewood Music Center.

TON’s return, in the second year of its existence, overshadows several new developments on the autumn scene, plus a round of performances by long-standing organizations such as the Berkshire Symphony.

The newcomers include a return of summer’s Aston Magna early-music festival in a single autumn concert, also on Oct. 7. It takes place just up the road from Simon’s Rock, at St. James Place, Aston Magna’s summer home. A four-piece ensemble will play a program titled “Bach Father and Son, and their Peers.”

The recently formed Berkshire Chamber Players at the Stockbridge Library, which debuted last spring, opened a three-concert season on Friday with a program of Dvorak, Handel-Halvorsen, Lou Harrison (for his centenary) and…

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