One voice fills an ampitheater of 300 people, sheering clear to the back wall. The bass beats like a pulse or a summer storm, and the keyboard melody washes underneath. The night is warm, and the crowd is moving in the current of sound.

Music in the Berkshires runs deep — in many traditions. In the 1950s, Louis Armstrong played the Music Inn and jazz legends taught in Lenox. In 1969, Janice Joplin opened the summer season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra here before she went on to Woodstock.

We have a growing center of classical music in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home at Tanglewood, and also of folk from Alice’s Restaurant onward. Indy rock, jazz and contemporary sound evolves at Mass MoCA in FreshGrass and Wilco’s Solid Sound festivals, Bang on a Can’s contemporary compositions and the Grammy-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth … and they’re just the beginning.

Music in the Berkshires

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Marco Borggreve / Courtesy of Tanglewood

Tanglewood

Tanglewood has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1938, and it has expanded with popular music, folk and rock, comedy and jazz, and now with the Tanglewood Learning Institute.

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Mass MoCA / Photo by Kaelan Burkett / Mass MoCA

Mass MoCA

Mass MoCA is now the largest contemporary art museum in the country, and one of the largest on the planet. Artists from across the U.S. and the world have come to show their work in a former mill North Adams along the Hoosic River.

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Courtesy of Vishten

Guthrie Center

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant — even an evening of music with the Guthrie family. The church that made folk music history 50 years ago in Arlo Guthrie’s hit song is now a community center and the site of an annual folk music series in the summers.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Clark Art Institute

Renoir rubs elbows with Rodin, and the reflecting pool glows between northeast granite and classical marble. The Clark Art Institute holds a collection of Impressionists and more on a campus re-imagined by Tadao Ando.

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Barrington Stage

Barrington Stage Company

Barrington Stage Company has been known for 25 years for re-imagining lavish musicals and taking on deep and timely challenges in its theaters. The company fills two stages in Pittsfield with concerts and performances from June to October and a festival of short plays in the winter.

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Williamstown Theatre Festival

Williamstown Theatre Festival

On these stages, actors and writers can take risks. A new musical can ache for a Polish woman who escapes Russia, between a World War and a revolution, and comes to Paris with little but a skill with paint and determination to rebuild.

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Jens TH / Le Vent du Nord

Colonial Theatre

Brooklyn comedians play here, and tributes to Santana or Aretha Franklin. The Colonial Theatre acts as a year-round concert hall and 21st-century performance space, decked in gilt and red velvet out of another century.

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Photo by Pete Wise

The Foundry

The Foundry in West Stockbridge is a new center for performing and visual arts, with a flexible gallery space and a black box theater for staged readings and open mics.

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Trumpets / Courtesy photo

Mahaiwe

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center brings music to the Berkshires year-round, and dance, film, comedy and theater as well, in a restored 1905 concert hall and cinema.

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Cello / Cody Molica

Close Encounters

Close to 30 years ago, cellist Yehuda Hanani began presenting chamber concerts with conversation on a theme. The form was new then — it has become common now. And over the years, Hanani has created concerts with musicians and themes around the world as artistic director of Close Encounters with Music.

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Photo by Dejan Krsmanovic

Dewey Hall

At the center of Sheffield’s town green, along Route 7, an old fieldstone and marble hall has acted as a community center for more than a hundred years. A community group hosts art shows and talks here, concerts, swing and contradances and the Dewey Hall Folk Series.

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Photo by Susan Geller

Dream Away Lodge

The Dream Away Lodge is a road house, a locally sourced restaurant, a lounge and a labyrinth … its a 200-year-old farmhouse on the edge of October Mountain State Forest in Becket, and it has been a center of live music for decades.

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Cello / Cody Molica

Egremont Barn

The old barn at the Egremont Village Inn gives refuge on a windy night. Tables gather around an informal stage with a piano. And concerts, comedy and karaoke have been drawing a community here at the Egremont Barn for pub comfort food and music.

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Photo by by Stephen D. Strowes

HiLo North Adams

HiLo is a live music venue along the Hoosic River, just east of downtown. A couple of North Adams entrepreneurs have quietly turned the former Quinn’s paint store into an informal stage for comedy, folk and acousitc music, rock and R&B and more.

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Courtesy photo by Sam Whited

Lenox Contra dance

The Lenox dance has evolved from community gatherings with a local house band into a regional monthly gala — on Third Saturdays year-round — with bands from across the country and sometimes beyond.

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Nikki Giovanni / MCLA

MCLA

National and international figures come to visit the students at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, ranked in the top 10 public colleges in U.S. News and World Report and appears in U.S. News’ list of Top National Liberal Arts colleges.

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Courtesy photo by Sam Whited

North Berkshire dance

Contra and square dancing is a living New England tradition, as casual as dancing barefoot in the kitchen on a summer night. The North Berkshire Community Dance holds a monthly dance on second Saturdays at the Williamstown Community Preschool, with live music.

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Parsons Dance / Photo by Richard Termine

Performance Space 21

PS21 has grown into a series of music and theater, dance and film. For many years the concert stage opened in the summer season, under a tent, but in 2018 it expanded into the cold months in a new all-weather theater with flexible sound, lighting and space.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Red Lion Inn

The Red Lion Inn has stood centrally on Main Street since 1773, when it served as a stage coach between Boston and Albany. The old clapboard building has a history going back to the Revolution, and today it brings locals and visitors to its restaurants and shop of goods from local artists and artisans.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Stationery Factory

An old brick mill in the heart of Crane & Company territory has been renovated into space for arts and small businesses. It has a mainstage with professional sound and lighting, and often hosts live music on Saturday nights.

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Sarah Kenyon / Courtesy of The Mount

The Mount

Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, wrote many of her best-known novels in this house, in the 10 years she lived in Lenox — from The House of Mirth to Ethan Frome. Her house is now a museum, a center of writing, music and performance, landscape and gardens, dedicated to keeping her spirit alive.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Williams College

Williams College is named the top liberal arts college in the country, out in the Berkshire hills with an art museum, theater and music, talks and trails — and a spirit of making its own fun.

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