Culture in the Berkshires

Music, dance and theater lovers who enjoy savoring the arts in a rural setting may want to head for Massachusetts's Berkshire Mountains, where a series of festivals showcases world-class talent every summer. Here's a look.

Tanglewood Music Festival: Lenox is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the celebrated Boston Pops stages concerts on the lawn here as well. (413) 637-1600.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival: Beckett is the site of the country's oldest dance festival, featuring ballet, jazz and modern dance. Pillow Express Regional Tours are chartered day trips via bus to the festival from the regional hubs of Albany, N.Y.; Hartford, Conn.; Springfield, Mass., and Boston. Agents receive discounted tickets for the tours, translating to a 10% commission if sold at full price. Tickets must be purchased before May 21; performances are in July. (413) 637-1322 for tours, (413) 243-0745 for the


Berkshire Theatre Festival: Classic American and foreign plays as well as new works are performed by leading stage talent in Stockbridge all summer long. (413) 298-5576.

Artful Lodgings

In Lenox, the Seven Hills Country Inn and Restaurant, a turn-of-the-century Tudor-style mansion, has put together its own program of performing arts along with midweek lodging packages.

Highlights on this year's performance schedule at the inn include the return of Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart as guest pianist with the string quartet Innuendo; an appearance by Spanish dance troupe Ramon de los Reyes, and the premiere of Blue Pumpkin's cabaret revue, "Backporch Vaudeville."

A Monday music series titled the Classics runs July 5 to Aug. 23, and a Tuesday Sparkling Entertainment series, featuring jazz, swing and Broadway music, runs from July 6 to Aug. 24. Backporch Vaudeville is performed at the inn Wednesdays through Fridays and on Sundays.

Midweek overnight packages include one performance, dinner, breakfast and lodging at the 52-room inn, whose guest list has included such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Beverly Sills and Carly Simon. Prices, commissionable at 10% on the rooms portion of each package, range from $119 to $229 per person.

A three-night minimum applies to weekend stays during Tanglewood season. For reservations, call (800) 869-6518.

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