Williamstown Historical Society Sets Annual Fundraiser

By Phyllis McGuireSpecial to iBerkshires
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Historical Museum will usher in the spring with "March in the Valley," featuring a silent auction and cabaret, on Sunday, March 16, at the Orchards Hotel from 5 to 8 p.m.

The event is one of the nonprofit organization's biggest fundraisers.
"We do an annual fundraiser — the silent auction/cabaret every other year and the House Tour on alternate years," Rita Watson, vice president of the board of directors and chairman of the program committee. "The silent auction/cabaret  ("Moon Over the Mountains") in March 2012  was very successful so we thought it best to stick to that time slot for our 2014 fundraiser."    
The cabaret will be produced by Kathleen Toohey Carbone, professor of voice at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. The professor's formal music education includes attending Hart College of Music in Connecticut and the New England Conservatory of Music. As a soloist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Berkshire native traveled with them in California.
"Seven very talented students in the music department and theater department of MCLA will perform in the cabaret," Carbone said. "Some will graduate this year, some have been in summer stock. They are great kids and are excited about doing the cabaret."
The accompanist Howie Levitz also entertains at the piano on Friday evenings at the Williams Inn.
A variety of music genres will be rendered during the cabaret, which will start at 7 p.m. For the most part, students will do show tunes. Ronald Feldman, conductor of the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra who has appeared as solo cellist in many orchestras, and harpist Elizabeth Morse will perform a duet of Ravel's "Habanera" and John Williams' "Eo Rossa" from "The Sacred Tree."
"Rita suggested that I sing [at the fundraiser], probably because she knows about my cabaret background," said Steve Lawson, executive director of the Williamstown Film Festival. "But I thought since others would be singing I would do a reading, a monologue."
Lawson selected Thomas Meehen's short story "Yma Dream" to read from at the event. "It's a funny story about a man who dreams he throws a party for famous people who do not know each other," he said.
The silent auction will run from 5 to 6:30 p.m. "People will have an hour and a half to peruse the auction items and decide on which they want to bid," said Watson.
The list of bids will be opened shortly after the cabaret, at about 8 p.m.; winners can pay at that time, and credit cards are acceptable, said Watson.   
Ranging in value from $35 to $900, the more than 50 auction items include lodgings, works of art, horse-drawn wagon rides, cocktails and dinner for eight in the home of the donor, a private tour of the Sterling and Francine Art Institute with associate  director Thomas Loughman, and a picnic lunch for four, and collectibles such as a blanket and honey container from Mount Hope Farm. Watson said blanket was made from the wool of sheep raised at the farm.
The five lodgings offered are as near as historic River Bend Farm in Williamstown and as far as Lucca, Italy. The  person who wins a week in a Lucca apartment may seize the opportunity to visit tourist attractions such as Gungi Tower, a 14th-century tower on a well-preserved medieval street.
Among the works of art being auctioned are two limited prints of local artist John MacDonald's "December Snow" and "Berkshire Dawn." MacDonald's work has been exhibited in solo shows at the Harrison Gallery on Spring Street as well as a number of other art galleries.
A silent auction catalog can be found on the museum's website.   
Tickets at $50 for members and $60 for non-members are available at the Historical Society, located in the back of the Milne Public Library, or at the Orchards Hotel.  Attendees of the event are entitled to two beverages and hors d'oeuvres.   
Proceeds will benefit the museum, a non-profit organization established in 1941 to collect and preserve historic items connected to Williamstown. The museum provides exhibitions, public programs on historic topics, resources for genealogists free of charge.
For more information about "March in the Valley," call Rita Watson 413-458-8485 or  Museum Director Sarah Currie 413-458-2160.

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