Soaking in history at the Hancock Shaker Village

I forgot to mention my other activity from Friday. After putting in a morning’s work, I drove from Pittsfield due west on Rt 20 to the Hancock Shaker Village. The village, which was active from the 19th century during Mother Ann’s Work through 1959, still has almost all its original buildings, plus furniture and fixtures.

It was pouring on Friday, so I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I wanted, but I got some good photos (posted, for the sake of trying something new, at Flickr).

An unfailingly practical people, the Shakers: similar in some ways to the Amish, the other outsider community with whom I have strong family ties, but vastly dissimilar in others. The adoption of electricity, for instance: the Shakers diverted a creek to power a turbine and were the first folks with electricity in Berkshire County.

Brushes with greatness

The image annotation feature at Flickr is one of thoes things that might make me recant my previous position on it. For one thing, it shows me when I’ve missed making a connection with someone interesting.

I was at a networking event the other week, and Sooz, the organizer, has posted some of her photos from the event. Check out this one and move your cursor over the photo—for maximum effect, going from right, where I’m sitting, to left. Where do you end up?

Why, Aaron Swartz, of course. And I didn’t know he was there. The kicker is I saw his Mac OS X 10.0 T-shirt—geek cred that says “I was there before Jaguar”—and thought I should go over to chat. Next time I won’t ignore that voice.

All finales are anticlimactic

chorus on stage

Boston Globe: Levine, Mahler triumph at Tanglewood. On the positive side, I can be assured that, unlike other groups in which I have sung, our concerts will almost always be reviewed. On the other hand, all our preparation, hard work, and ultimately ecstatic performance was summed up by the reviewer as:

The music is so tightly wound that it explodes — it lasts 25 minutes or so, but it passes like a flash of lightning, a noisy one. Levine and his orchestra, the soloists, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and the American Boychoir fired it like a cannon — it was noisy and exciting, it was hectic, and the temptation to scream offered by the vocal writing was not avoided.

Ah well. I can only hope they were talking about the soloists, not us.

Funniest moment of the night: One of the sopranos, who had the most sublime vocal line of the night, delivered it from high above the shell for dramatic effect. When the applause came, due to some misunderstanding—or worse, some mishap—she never came down, and there were three bows taken for the rest of the soloists before Levine realized she was still up there and waved up to acknowledge her contributions.

Least funny moment of the night: I had hoped that, since it had rained the whole week, it would stop for the performance. And it did, but only about half an hour before curtain, and it rained more or less continuously on us all the way home.