Close Encounters with Music Presents Skylark, A Cappella Vocalists: Hidden Symbols, Secret Codes

What might happen if Robert Langdon, acclaimed professor of Symbology at Harvard University (and fictional hero of Dan Brown’s best-selling novels, including The Da Vinci Code), were enlisted to explore hidden symbols, secret codes, and long-forgotten historical connections buried in manuscripts of choral music over the centuries?


Join GRAMMY-nominated Skylark to find out. Featuring video introductions by author Dan Brown and stunning new music by Gregory W. Brown, musical selections will be drawn from the ancient to the modern, including works by Giuseppe Jannacconi (who wrote in the style of Palestrina), Franco-Flemish Renaissance composer Guillaume du Fay, Benjamin Britten and Sarah Rimkus, whose works have been featured on BBC Radio and performed at Buckingham Palace and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  Boston-based Skylark is one of the leading vocal ensembles in the U.S., praised for their “gripping” performances (Times of London) and their “original, imaginative, and engrossing” programming.  Gramophone has called them “passionate…radiant…exquisite…ethereal…thrilling…stunning.”

Skylark Ensemble; Matthew Guard, conductor

In the Close Encounters With Music tradition, each performance is followed by an AFTERGLOW reception, with hors d’oeuvres and wine provided by local restaurants.



Tickets, $52/$28/$15, are available at and by phone, 413-528-0100


For more information, please visit:




Skylark, “the cream of the American crop” (BBC Radio 3), is a premier ensemble of leading American vocal soloists, chamber musicians, and music educators. Skylark’s dramatic performances have been described as “gripping” (The Times of London), “exquisite…thrilling” (Gramophone Magazine), and “aweinspiring” (Boston Music Intelligencer). With “some of Boston’s best singers” (Boston Globe), the voices of Skylark “can sway you softly into calm and then all but throw you across the room with sheer harmonic force” (Thought Catalog). Skylark strives to set the standard for innovative and engaging programs that re-define the choral experience for audiences and singers alike. Artistic Director Matthew Guard’s well researched and creative programs have been described as “engrossing” (WQXR New York) and “original, stimulating, and beautiful.” Their most recent three recordings all reached the top 10 of Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart, earning praise for “imaginative” programming (Limelight Australia) and “singing of the highest standard for any area or any repertoire” (Classics Today). Since its founding in 2011 in Atlanta and Boston, Skylark has branched out to perform its dynamic programs in museums, concert halls, and churches across the U. S. Skylark made its international debut in 2018 at St. John’s Smith Square, London, as part of the UK choir Tenebrae’s Holy Week Festival. The Times of London declared that Skylark was “the highlight” of a festival that included some of the UK’s leading choirs, including The Tallis Scholars, Polyphony, Tenebrae, and the Gabrieli Consort. In 2017, Skylark embarked on a historic tour with “Clear Voices in the Dark,” a program featuring Francis Poulenc’s notoriously difficult Figure Humaine paired with songs of the American Civil War. A performance at the French Institute Alliance-Française in New York was described as “fascinating…singing in a shimmering pianissimo that rises to a triumphant crescendo, the Skylark ensemble practically opens the heavens with the beauty of their sound…” (Stage Buddy NYC). The previous year, Skylark made its debut at Atlanta’s celebrated Spivey Hall with a chamber performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil. In addition to numerous outreach workshops in public schools across the country, Skylark has conducted residencies at premier colleges and elite secondary schools including Harvard, MIT, Wellesley College, Endicott College, Milton Academy and Philips Exeter Academy.                     


Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and enlighten the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Joan Tower, Judith Zaimont, Lera Auerbach, Tamar Muskal, Robert Beaser, Kenji Bunch, Osvaldo Golijov, John Musto, and Paul Schoenfield among others—to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes: pianists, Roman Rabinovich, Soyeon Kate Lee, Inna Faliks, Max Levinson and Michael Chertock; violinists, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Vadim Gluzman, Julian Rachlin, Peter Zazofsky, Itamar Zorman and Hagai Shaham; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein and Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jennifer Rivera, Danielle Talamantes and Kelley O’Connor; the Muir, Manhattan, Ariel, Vermeer, Escher, Avalon, Hugo Wolf, Dover string quartets; and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Sam Waterston, Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs. Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City, at The Clark in Williamstown, at Tanglewood and in Great Barrington, MA, as well as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Summer performances have taken place at the New York State Museum, Basilica Hudson, Orpheum Theatre in Tannersville, and in the orchard at Olana. In its 11th year, the Berkshire High Peaks Festival takes place each July at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA, as the educational mission of Close Encounters With Music with fifty international students in residence for an immersive course of study and performance.


Artistic Director Yehuda Hanani has led the series since its founding, providing entertaining, erudite commentary that puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich and amplify the concert experience. His charismatic playing and profound interpretations bring him acclaim and re-engagements across the globe. Under Hanani’s leadership, CEWM pushes the traditional boundaries of traditional chamber music through thematic programming that embraces a range of musical idioms, styles, cultural influences, and eras. CEWM, now in its 28th season in the Berkshires, regularly commissions new works (25 to date!) and concert programs often weave music together with theater, dance, and literature. Venues include the landmark Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center and the newly renovated Saint James Place in Great Barrington. To complement the musical offerings, two guest speakers, Jungian analyst Melinda Haas and neurological researcher Concetta Tomaino are featured in the current Conversations With…. series.



Saturday, March 21, 6 PM, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
THE FRENCH CONNECTION– Saint-Saens, Debussy, Faure

Saturday, April 25, 6 PM, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
SKYLARK Vocal Ensemble

Saturday, May 23, 6 PM, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
BEETHOVEN@250 — Sonatas and “Archduke”Trio

Saturday, June 13, 6 PM, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
GALA: CAFÉ MUSIC– Gershwin, Claude Bolling, Paul Schoenfield and World Premiere by Tamar Muskal with tabla player Avirodh Sharma and rapper Christylez Bacon


Conversations With…


Sunday, March 29, 3 PM, The Mount in Lenox, MA


The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center is located at 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA.


Saint James Place is located at 352 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s