Ami and Tami, a musical fable for children, at the Berkshire Museum June 18

The preview will feature will feature seven versatile actors, each also doubling as musicians, playing piano, accordion, double bass, recorder, and small percussion.

The preview will feature will feature actors also doubling as musicians, playing piano, accordion, double bass, recorder, and small percussion.

A special preview performance of Ami and Tami, a musical fable for children, will be presented on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at 11:30 a.m. by Close Encounters With Music in collaboration with Floating Tower and the Berkshire Museum. Composed by Matti Kovler, Ami and Tami is a modern twist on the story of Hansel and Gretel. The performance is included with regular Museum admission.

The classic fairy tale Hansel and Gretel has been adapted to the reality of today’s teenagers with schedules overstretched by the demands of their success-driven parents. Join Ami and Tami as they find their path in the forest, and discover how the power of imagination can bring a family together.

The special preview performance of Ami and Tami will feature seven versatile actors, each also doubling as musicians, playing piano, accordion, double bass, recorder, and small percussion. The production is headlined by the Emmy-award winning TV host Sonya Hamlin as the Storyteller and Matti Kovler will perform the role of Composer on stage.

This performance is a preview of the full orchestral version planned for summer 2017 in the Berkshires, introducing Ami and Tami to the Berkshires famed cultural audience as well its community institutions.

Originally written in Hebrew, in 2015 Ami and Tami has been translated into English and workshopped at Boston University, Boston Children’s Museum, and American Repertory Theater’s Oberon Club. Last summer, the concert version of the piece, with orchestra, singers, children’s choir and tap dancers, was chosen as the closing family act of Outside the Box, one of America’s largest performing arts festivals, and performed on the main stage of the Boston Common, with Landmarks Orchestra.

About the composer

Described as “a potentially estimable operatic composer in the making” (New York Times), Matti Kovler (pronounced Mah-tee Kovler) is a Russian-born Israeli composer and creator of new works of musical theater. Kovler’s music has been commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Israel Festival. His works have been performed by the Israel Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, the Metropole Orchestra, and many others.

A 2008 Tanglewood fellow in composition, Kovler is not a stranger to the Berkshires. In 2011 he was commissioned by Tanglewood to write a double bass septet, The Unbearable Lightness. Since the Ozawa Hall premiere, the unique piece, scored for seven double basses, has been performed worldwide.

Among other accomplishments, Kovler was a fellow at the Aspen and Academia Chigiana Festivals, a winner of two consecutive national ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards, and of the Theodor Presser Award in Composition. In 2013-14 Kovler was recognized by the Boston Foundation as one of the six winners of the Brother Thomas Fellowships, “no strings attached” $15,000 bi-annual awards designed to support artists making outstanding contributions to the Boston community through excellence in their craft.

Kovler is the grandson of the Russian operatic tenor and Yiddish singer Leonid Kovler, and many of this works are inspired by contemporary Jewish narratives. In 2014-15, as first-ever composer-in-residence with Boston University’s Elie Wiesel Center, Kovler established Floating Tower, a production company specializing in cutting edge performances in music, theater, and multimedia through a contemporary 21st century Jewish lens. In 2016 Kovler moved to New York City where he was accepted as a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Workshop, the foremost training ground for new musical theater. For more information, visit www.floatingtower.com

Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at 39 South St., the Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $13 adult, $6 child; Museum members and children age 3 and under enjoy free admission. For more information, visit www.berkshiremuseum.org or call 413.443.7171.

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