Folk-influenced classical music, historic photos, a Hilltown music festival, and more

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Folk music from the British Isles by way of Italy

AMHERST — The Arcadia Players, the Valley-based ensemble that specializes in playing Baroque and early classical music, will host a summer concert this Saturday, Aug. 19, at South Church that offers a unique take on that era’s music.

The concert, which begins at 3 p.m., features 18th-century interpretations of English and Scottish folk music made by two Italian classical musicians and composers, Francesco Geminiani and Francesco Barsanti, who in 1714 moved to England, where Italian artists enjoyed great popularity.

In 1742, Barsanti published “A Collection of Old Scots Tunes,” folk music that was scored for harpsichord and other solo instruments, while in 1749 Geminiani published “A Treatise of Good Taste in the Art of Musick,” which also offered renditions of traditional music scored for classical players.

At the Amherst concert, six instrumentalists, led by Arcadia Players Artistic Director Andrew Arceci on viola da gamba, will be joined by soprano Hailey Fuqua. The group will offer material drawn from the collections of both the transplanted Italian composers: “Italianate vocal and instrumental renditions of British folk tunes.”

The concert comes following an announcement earlier this summer that Arceci, who became the ensemble’s director in early 2022, will be leaving after the 2023-2024 season because of growing musical commitments elsewhere, especially overseas. His family, who had been living in eastern Massachusetts, now lives in Italy.

“Given these changes, Arceci and the Arcadia Players Board have agreed that the long-term relationship they had hoped to establish is not sustainable,” the group said in a statement. “However, the Board is very pleased that he will be directing the upcoming 2023-2024 season.”

Tickets for the Aug. 19 concert are available at

Travels with Julius Lester

SOUTHAMPTON — The Robert Floyd Gallery and Learning Center this month hosts a photo exhibit by Julius Lester that features portraits of Black Americans and landscapes in the civil rights era.

“Photographs of the Black South (1966-1969),” which runs through Aug. 30, documents a trip that Lester, the late children’s book writer and University of Massachusetts professor, first made in 1966, when SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) sent him to Mississippi to capture the essence of the Black South.

Lester, who was born in Missouri in 1939 and grew up partly in Tennessee, became a committed civil rights activist in college; he later made additional trips to the Deep South to take more pictures of Black residents.

“Despite what a photograph may purport to be about, I think photographs are autobiographies,” he wrote about this work. “When we take pictures that are not for the sake of memory (family and the like), we are seeing something of ourselves, and are seeking to make visible something that is alive but unconscious within us.”

The exhibit has previously appeared in a number of places, including Princeton University, and Lester’s family has now released the artwork for sale, the Floyd Gallery says.

Gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., as well as by appointment. The gallery can be reached at (413) 529-2635 and at

A Hilltown music fest

WORTHINGTON — The Links at Worthington, which began hosting live music last summer and has continued with outdoor concerts this year, will feature its first multi-artist show this Sunday, Aug. 20, with the Rising Stars Music Festival.

The festival, from 2 to 10 p.m., features a mix of local and regional artists: the honky-tonk sounds of Wild Bill and the Flying Sparks, the blues-rock thrust of The 413s, Hotshot Hillbillies of the Berkshires, and headliner CJ Field.

Field, a North Adams native, has spent much time as a songwriter and performer in Nashville; a song he co-wrote with Ashley McBryde and Blue Foley, “Home Sweet Highway,” was nominated for Grammy, CMA, and ACM awards.

A multi-instrumentalist who divides his time between Massachusetts and Tennessee, Field has melded his sound from a host of influences, including southern rock as well as the music of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Otis Redding and Robert Johnson.

Tickets for the Rising Stars Festival, which organizers hope to make an annual event, are $35; children 12 and under are free. Food and drink will be available. Tickets can be purchased by visiting

A benefit for a talented artist

HOLYOKE — PULP Gallery is opening a new exhibit Saturday, Aug. 19 to help one of its contributing artists, Dean Nimmer, who is battling with Pulmonary fibrosis.

“Dean Nimmer Collections — Letting Go” features a wealth of artwork that includes both original works by Nimmer, an abstract painter, sculptor and photographer, as well as pieces by other artists in Nimmer’s collection. Sales of these items will be used to help the Valley artist with medical and living expenses.

Nimmer is a former art professor as well as the former chairman of the painting and printmaking programs at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He won a number of awards for his teaching during his career, including being named Massachusetts’ Outstanding Community Teacher of the Year in 2014-2015.

His art has been seen in over 200 solo and group exhibitions across the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia over the past 50 years, and his work is part of the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Smith College Art Museum, Harvard University, and several other institutions.

Dean Brown, co-founder and owner of PULP Gallery, says the gallery has posted some 125 items online for sale from Nimmer’s collection. “His love of design, beauty, the odd, the handmade are represented in these collections,” he said in an email.  

Nimmer’s “passion for life, art, objects, people knows no bounds,” Brown added. “The child’s wonder of all around him has never diminished. Even as his body has become ravaged, he manages to make art.”

An opening reception for the exhibit, which runs until Sept. 10, takes place Aug. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. Brown says he hopes Nimmer will be able to attend.

Opening the doors

NORTHAMPTON — After a number of years of painstaking renovation, helped along by numerous community volunteers, a 218-year-old barn is ready to show its new face to the neighborhood.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, Historic Northampton will host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. to celebrate the restoration and re-opening of the Shepherd Barn, which has been retooled to be a community center and performance/special exhibit space.

The barn, believed to date from 1804-1805, had been used for storage for years but was falling apart before local artisans, including timber framer Alicia Spence of Florence, joined with volunteers to restore the building, using old-fashioned construction techniques.

Saturday’s open house will feature discussions with some of the experts who restored the barn, as well as a display of historical artifacts, children’s activities, and free ice cream, watermelon and cold drinks.

— Compiled by Steve Pfarrer

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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