Music lovers of all stripes from bluegrass to folk to contemporary to jazz, Minecraft aficionados, theatergoers, comedy nerds, and contemporary dance fans can all find something to love at MASS MoCA this fall, and in the galleries visitors will be stunned by the new Xu Bing installation in the football field-sized Building 5 gallery which opens December 8. For music there’s FreshGrass Festival, Laura Marling, Loser’s Lounge, Moodswing Orchestra, and Alsarah & the Nubatones; for Minecraft there’s Jerry Gretzinger’s map, a jaw-dropping installation composed of squares, one of which is chosen at random and reworked every day based on cards drawn from a special deck; for theatergoers there are presentations by Sundance Lab Theater Institute and Half Straddle Theater with PS 121; for comedy nerds there’s Nerd Nite, and finally contemporary dance fans will love Emily Johnson.
The season starts with a twang as FreshGrass Festival returns for the second year with headliners David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Tony Rice, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Trampled by Turtles on Friday, September 21, through Sunday, September 23. Chock-full of guitar gods and banjo gurus, traditionalists and trailblazers, this festival features a group of performers who are reaching back to the past and looking to the future, pushing one of American’s greatest musical forms forward.
October’s highlight is sure to be the spectacular map displayed in the Hunter Center, a half-century project of imagination by Jerry Gretzinger which started in 1963 with a doodle of an imaginary town. Today the map comprises over 2,600 hand-drawn panels covering a stunning 2,000 square feet. October 5 – 14, Gretzinger sets up his studio in the Hunter Center, and the map is displayed for the first time ever in its entirety during the production of a new documentary film about Gretzinger by Greg Whitmore.
At the end of the month, on October 26, talented English folksinger Laura Marling, who has mesmerized audiences with her extraordinary songwriting and equally enchanting voice, takes the Hunter Center stage for a solo show. Other October music highlights includes Bandana Splits on October 6 and Loser’s Lounge with a Muppet Music Extravaganza on October 20. MASS MoCA presents comedy with Nerd Nite on Saturday, October 13, an event described as “like the Discovery Channel – with beer” that’s taking the nation by storm.
November events include music in Club B-10 with Ben Perowsky’s Moodswing Orchestra on November 3 and Alsarah & the Nubatones on November 10, dance with Williams College’s student dance troupe performing LeWitticisms in the galleries on November 1 and Emily Johnson offering a work-in-progress showing of her newest work on November 16.
On December 8, MASS MoCA opens an installation by Chinese sensation Xu Bing in the oversized Building 5 Gallery. The centerpieces of his newest work, Phoenix Project, are two monumental (90+ foot long) birds fabricated entirely from materials harvested from constructions sites in urban China.
Two theatre showings round out the month: a staged reading of Tim Crouch’s My Arm on Saturday, December 1, and a work-in-progress showing of Seagull (Thinking of you) presented by Half Straddle and PS 122 which works with, against, and beneath Chekhov’s The Seagull and includes a Russian folk metal-influenced score on Saturday, December 15.
Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M., closed Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at http://www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA is an independent 501c(3) whose operations and programming are funded through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for an initial construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of annual operating revenues are from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants.