Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Non-Commercial Gift Giving

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Holiday Segment
Non-Commercial Gift Giving

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Monday, November 21, 2016. In this segment, Sienna and Lauren talked about non-commercial gift-giving ideas and the value of making your own gifts to give for the holidays.

Click on image to view video.

Download a copy of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA for Nov/Dec. (38 page PDF) for the holiday season.


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be December 26th, 2016!

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Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Holiday Strolls & Community Singing

Hilltown Families on Mass Appeal: Holiday Segment
Learning with Holiday Strolls and Caroling

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News!  Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield,  joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. In this segment, Sienna and Lauren talked about engaging and learning with holiday strolls and community singing during the holiday season.

Click on image to view video.

Download a copy of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western MA for Nov/Dec. (38 page PDF) for the holiday season.


Mass Appeal is a live weekday program that airs at 11am on 22News (Springfield, MA).  Our next visit to the Mass Appeal studios will be December 26th, 2016!

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Berkshire Lyric: 50 Years of Creating Culture in the Cold Months

Do You Want to Know a Secret?
1963 was Big for the Beatles … and Berkshire Lyric

By Jaclyn Stevenson

The Blafield Children’s Chorus. (Photo credit: Jaclyn Stevenson)

2013 will be a banner year for golden anniversaries. Among many other cultural milestones, the Beatles’ debut album Please Please Me will mark 50 years in existence. Recorded in one session, it seems the album struck a chord; three months after its release, the term ‘Beatlemania’ was coined…and the rest is history.

Also in 1963, Berkshire Lyric – one of the area’s longest running community arts organizations – was beginning its own musical legacy and creating a new resource for music education in western Massachusetts along the way. The multi-generational choral group is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a full season of performances, and will perform a wide array of musical selections by composers such as Handel, Mozart and Stravinsky – as well as Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr.

A Berkshire Lyric program from 1969 – then known as the Berkshire Lyric Theatre, the group performed musicals in various venues across the county.

In the last half-century, Berkshire Lyric has evolved from a lyric theater troupe staging musicals – Hansel and Gretel and The Most Happy Fella among them – into a choral performance powerhouse with four separate choruses and singers spanning five generations.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Jack Brown of Stockbridge, who serves as choral director at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, the choruses present complex classical works such as Requiem by contemporary British composer Karl Jenkins and Rachmaninoff’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Music education programs including the Young Singers Competition, the Berkshire Lyric Choral Scholars Program, and the annual Blafield Summer Choral Camps named for Berkshire Lyric’s founder, Robert Blafield.  These programs complement performances throughout the year and are supervised by Brown and Telly award-winning pianist Joe Rose, music director for St. Charles Church in Pittsfield and the choruses’ accompanist.

Berkshire Lyric leaves no genre behind; its repertoire also offers well-timed slices of popular culture each season to lighten the mood. Concerts in the past have offered island-inspired performances and traditional Irish medleys, for instance, and that diverse, all-inclusive approach to music is one thing that has never changed. It grew, Brown says, from a need in the Berkshires to “create culture for the cold months,” and in turn to offer year-round residents opportunities to study or simply enjoy choral music.

Fifty years later, it seems that stalwart Yankee gumption has stayed strong. In the upcoming season, Berkshire Lyric’s ‘Kick the Winter Blues’ concert theme will be a nod to the year it all started with a 1963 Revival. As the Beatles cemented their place in international history, Berkshire Lyric was creating its own legacy in the woods – one that continues to grow.

Berkshire Lyric’s Upcoming Season

The Berkshire Singers, the teenage chorus of Berkshire Lyric, will be featured in a special concert at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, at 11am. The chorus is led by Joe Rose and will be performing as part of the museum’s annual Festival of Trees Family Day celebration. Admission is free with a paid admission to the museum.

Deck the Halls, The Christmas Concert takes place on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, at 3pm at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in downtown Pittsfield. Featuring the Monument Mountain High School Chorus and the Spartones, both directed by Julie Bickford, and Gaudeamus, a select a cappella chorus of 10 young men from Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington. Tickets are $20 for adults and free for students and children.

Berkshire Lyric will present Handel’s Messiah as a community sing on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, at 3pm at the First United Methodist Church in Pittsfield. The audience is invited to be the chorus and vocal scores will be sold at the door. The concert will be conducted by Jack Brown with accompaniment on the church’s great Austin organ by Joe Rose. A professional string quartet will be augmented by local young string players. Four past winners of Berkshire Lyric’s Young Singers Competition will be the vocal soloists: Felicia Coppola-Pavao, Elaina Pullano, Miles Herr, and Timothy Passetto. Admission is by donation. The free will offering will be sponsored by the Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations, and all proceeds will directly benefit the Pittsfield Area Fuel Assistance Program.

The 50th Anniversary season will culminate in a gala concert at Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall on June 9, 2013, with all of the choruses and special appearances by founder Robert Blafield and Berkshire Lyric protégé and world renowned soprano Maureen O’Flynn.

Event and season tickets may be purchased online at www.BerkshireLyricInfo.org


About the Author:

Jaclyn Stevenson

Jaclyn is a freelance writer and photographer and works in the field of public relations for a creative agency in the Berkshires. writerjax.net

Summer Camp with Berkshire Lyric’s Blafield Children’s Chorus

Berkshire Lyric Offers Free Children’s Summer Camps in August, 2012

Berkshire Lyric will again host two separate weeks of The Blafield Children’s Chorus Summer Choral Camp in Dalton, starting August 6, and in Stockbridge, starting August 13. These free and intensive music camps are an opportunity for all local children ages 6 through 13 to sing, learn about music and have fun with the Blafield Children’s Chorus as they look forward to the 2012-2013 season.

Berkshire Lyric’s Blafield Children’s Chorus is offering kids a chance to learn about music and singing at free week-long camps this August!  Two different camps will be offered, both open to kids ages 6-13. Lead by Berkshire Lyric’s artistic director, Jack Brown, the camps are intensive, but offer kids a unique opportunity to learn about classical voice performance.

Attending the camp can be a great way for kids to explore their interest in music, and can help them (literally)  find their voices – by the end of the camp, kids will have gained useful knowledge about reading and performing music.  The first camp takes place from August 6-10 in Dalton, and the second from August 13-17 in Stockbridge.  For more information or to register, call 413-298-5365.

About Berkshire Lyric

Berkshire Lyric has been a fixture in the Berkshire musical landscape for 49 years. Berkshire Lyric started as a lyric theatre performance group and has since grown to be the only multi-generational performance and educational group in the Berkshires, providing scholarships, tuition-free education, and quality performance opportunities to Berkshire residents of all ages. As a non-profit, federally tax exempt charitable organization, Berkshire Lyric is supported in part by grants from local Massachusetts Cultural Councils, local corporations and gifts from individual contributors.  For further information on Berkshire Lyric, visit them online at www.berkshirelyricinfo.org.

The Lament of Motherhood

I Know I Lament Motherhood Often…

I know that I lament motherhood quite often. It is just that way in my household. Those boys of mine are maddening. Their struggles encompass me. They become my own by virtue of blame or guilt or just plain ol’ desire to help. When it comes to them, I guess one could say that I tend to be pessimistic, worrying about all that COULD go wrong, and in the last year a lot of that “could” “HAS.” I am not sure if this is a phenomenon every parent experiences or if it is just my neurosis, but I have been a worrier for my entire life and so I guess it isn’t a huge leap that I would approach motherhood in the same way. In a warped sense of logic, worrying about what could possibly happen makes me feel like I would then be prepared if it DID in fact happen—less surprised I guess one could say (You can stop shaking your head. I DO know how absolutely loony toony that sounds..really…I do.).

So when my typically shy-reserved-non-risk-taker son, Aidan, decided to try out for his first choral solo, well…I um…worried. First I worried that he wouldn’t get it. That he’d stick his neck out for the first time (finally) and it’d be chopped off. When he got it, I was ecstatic for him and honored (You see it was my favorite song from my favorite Broadway Musical which is why he decided to try out for it.). But after the initial elation, that familiar worry began to take over.

First I worried, that as a perfectionist, he’d never feel that it was just right. When things like this happen he tends to get surly. Surly brings door slamming and eye rolling and well…no one in the world enjoys that. Then I worried that as a former bullied kid, singing in front of the entire school would open him up to ridicule that, as his mom, I didn’t think he was strong enough to handle. Teen boy musicians tend to take on a certain stigma from the football type bully pulpit. I vividly imagined snickers and epithets even elbows and locker shoves. He’d internalize it and then never sing alone again (even though his voice is truly a gift.)

He spent many days after school with his angel of a chorale teacher practicing and practicing and perfecting. He walked around the house humming or working out a particular line. I sometimes even heard his full voice rise up from the teen palace in the basement. To me, the sound was breathtaking, but the anticipation of the performance itself seemed to be equally as breathtaking.

On the night of the concert, I stood in the back with my toddler daughter. It was easier than to try and get her to sit still in an auditorium seat, but in reality it also allowed me to pace and pace and pace and pace. The butterflies I was sure were so plentiful that they’d rise from my stomach and fly right out of my mouth even though my lips were pursed so tightly with nerves that they had turned white from lack of blood.

All at once it was time, and he stepped down from the risers with his duet partner. The piano washed over me the familiar and moving music and Aidan opened his mouth to sing.  Read the rest of this entry »

Inclusive Community Choir Forming in Western MA for Dan Zanes Concert

Valle Dwight of Hadley, MA writes:

Whole Children is forming inclusive chorus to perform in concert with Dan Zanes!

Whole Children, an afterschool center for children with special needs in Hadley, MA, announced its first-ever Inclusive Community Choir, a chorus made up of children with and without disabilities. The chorus, supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, will rehearse throughout the winter in preparation for a concert with Grammy-award winning children’s musician Dan Zanes on Mother’s Day in Northampton, MA.  The ticket sales from this concert will be a fund-raiser for Whole Children.

The center is looking for children, ages 8 and up, interested in joining the choir. Rehearsals will be Monday evenings from 5-6:15 p.m. in Hadley, starting in February. Cost of participation is $65 to offset the cost of a choral director and assistants, with a special rate for siblings.

Guardians of interested chorus members should call Whole Children at 413-585-8010, or register online at www.wholechildren.org.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Community Chorus Group Welcomes Families to Join

New Singers Of All Ages Are Welcome to Join the Hilltown Choral Society!

According to a new study by Chorus America, children who sing in choruses have greater academic success and more advanced social skills than children who don’t sing. Click on the link below to read more about their findings.

Do you have children that love to sing? Are you looking for ways you or your family can be more involved with your community? Did you know there was a Hilltown community chorus group, the Hilltown Choral Society, and they are welcoming new singers of all ages?

The Hilltown Choral Society welcomes new singers and will hold rehearsals for their Holiday Concerts and Winter Concert on Monday evenings beginning September 14th, 2009 from 7:30 to 9:00pm in the Worthington Historical Society Building (intersection of Routes 143 and 112) in the center of Worthington, MA.

The  Holiday Concerts are to be held on Saturday December 5th and Sunday, December 6th, 2009, and a Winter Concert will also be held on Sunday January 3rd, 2010.

With nearly 10 million children and 32 million adults singing in choruses, choral singing is the most popular form of participation in the performing arts*.

“The prototype of a choral singer is how Americans aspire to see themselves today: as active, involved citizens with a broad range of creative interests and concerns for their communities,” says Ann Meier Baker, the President and CEO of Chorus America.

According to a *new study conducted by Chorus America, choral singers exhibit increased social skills, civic involvement, volunteerism, philanthropy, and support of other art forms, when compared with non-singers.  Read their findings here: How Children, Adults and Communities Benefit from Choruses: The Chorus Impact Study.

For more information about the Hilltown Choral Society, or to reserve a place in the group, please contact Chorus Director, Jeff Hunt, at 413-499-7320 or Jeffcomusic1@aol.com.  Jeff Hunt, is also organist at St. Mark’s Church in Pittsfield, MA.

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