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About the Berkshire Review, a continually updated online arts journal, Michael Miller, Editor/Publisher

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The Berkshire Review for the Arts is a continually updated online arts journal.

Back Home in Williamstown. Photo © 2010 Michael Miller.
Back Home in Williamstown. Photo © 2010 Michael Miller.

I never fail to consult the Berkshire Review without being impressed by the responsiveness, sympathy, and understanding informing its contents. Perhaps above all, the Review takes the arts – from theater production to fiction, from film to music – as having values aside from those of commercial entertainment, values that have to do with what it means to be human, and what it might mean to be more human. When practised at this level, criticism, too, is one of the arts.
—Paul Griffiths

“The Review is a major cultural resource–and one distinguished by its quality of writing; I’d hate not to receive it.”
— David Porter, President Emeritus, Skidmore College

“Your writing demonstrated passion, conceptual depth, integrity and imagination – and, above all, an eagerness to learn more and stretch your approach to theater with a brave and conscientious zeal.”
—  Sasha Anawalt, Director of Arts Journalism Programs, USC Annenberg Arts Journalism Programs

“Yes, I very much enjoyed reading this piece, and I salute your publication for actually doing real criticism, just about disappeared from these parts.” — D. Kern Holoman, Professor of Music, University of California, Davis.

The (Online) “Berkshire Review for the Arts”–with an Emphasis on “for”

Last year a marvelous new source came online for reliable and well-written reviews of musical performances, as well as theater, art exhibits, and (promised for the future) books–including books on music.

It’s called The Berkshire Review for the Arts.

Note the preposition “for.”  The editor, Michael Miller (who has taught courses in classics and in art history at Williams College and New York University) is absolutely devoted to the performing and visual arts.  I knew him back in college days and already recognized in him one of those devoted, discerning music lovers that performers know are “out there” listening attentively.

As the “for” in its title suggests, the Berkshire Review tries to draw attention to major artistic effort and achievement, not to tear it down for the greater glory of the smug critic (as sometimes occurs in, say, concert reviews in daily newspapers).

In another respect, though, the Berkshire Review is perhaps misleadingly named.  Though based in Western Massachusetts, it reports on events occurring far beyond.  Michael Miller himself regularly travels to Boston and New York for events of significance (such as Alfred Brendel’s farewell concert).  Various correspondents (including a brilliant and perceptive writer, Huntley Dent) send in dispatches from England and even Australia.
— Ralph P. Locke, Professor of Musicology, Eastman School of Music; Senior Editor, Eastman Studies in Music, writing on Dial “M” for Musicology, July 9, 2008

***

The Berkshire Review for the Arts as a name justifies itself easily enough. The county is famous for its music, dance, and theater festivals, its art galleries and museums.”

Note that the founders of the older arts organizations in the Berkshires, Eva LeGallienne, Ted Shawn, and Serge Koussevitzky were people who took their work seriously and strove for the highest standards. However times may have changed, people come to the Berkshires specifically for this “high art,” a diversion closely associated in American popular tradition with elite educations and elite bank accounts. However much Ted Shawn and Leonard Bernstein may have mitigated it, there is an unmistakable element of eurocentrism in it, another quality deplored by anti-elitists.

In any case, I understand the Berkshires more as an intellectual phenomenon than as lines on a map. Even politically, Berkshire County feels the pull of Albany and Montpellier almost as strongly as that of Boston—Howard Dean’s joke aside. As a person who grew up in New York City and spent most of his maturity in Cambridge, I see the Berkshires as the confluence of the two cultures, which are still fundamentally different. Even though the arts in Boston have expanded to an inconceivable extent over the past generation, they have grown in different directions than in New York, as is shown clearly enough in the Boston Early Music Festival and the Boston Center for the Arts. Almost as if it were part of Koussevitzky’s plan, his Bostonian protégé, Leonard Bernstein, made his mark in New York, achieving things which inherently belonged to New York, and exercising a transformative influence on American music. If you attend a few Tanglewood Music Center performances and hear its immensely gifted Fellows at work, you’ll see this continuing today.

Williamstown with its blue chip liberal arts college is quite different from Pittsfield or Lenox or Sheffield or Great Barrington, but all in their way have acquired an international character, particularly as more and more people settle here from cities. The inhabitants of these towns are more likely to know and care about what happens in Paris or Moscow or Mumbai than most Americans. For that reason The Berkshire Review for the Arts, while reporting routinely about local events, will keep an eye on the world at large. In other words, I see the Berkshires as an open community with connections all around the world, than as a self-contained region.

Submissions are always welcome, above all by contributors writing about their own area of expertise. Please send a proposal first. At present we do not consider unsolicited fiction and poetry.

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