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2008 Aston Magna at Bard Season Offers Six Friday Concerts, "A Midsummer Night's (And Day's) Music," Beginning June 27

Emily Darrow


“America’s preeminent summer early-music event”—Boston Globe


ANNDANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Aston Magna at Bard summer 2008 series, “A Midsummer Night’s (and Day’s) Music,” presents six programs on Fridays, June 27 through August 1, at Bard College’s Olin Hall. Preconcert talks begin at 7:00 p.m; the concerts commence at 8:00 p.m. Daniel Stepner, violinist and Aston Magna artistic director, guides the series that the Boston Globe describes as “America’s preeminent summer early-music event . . . a festival that is out on the cutting edge of its art.”


A six-concert subscription is $135; three or more different concerts in a “make your own” subscription are $24 each; single-concert tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for senior citizens (age 62 and over). Students with valid full-time student ID, or under the age of 25, may purchase up to two $5 student rush tickets on the day of the performance. Student rush tickets are subject to availability. For further information and reservations, call The Bard Center at 845-758-7425.


The first concert on Friday, June 27, celebrates the “The Young Mendelssohn,” with two masterworks: his Quintet in A Minor and Octet for Strings, as well as the String Symphony No. 10, composed by Mendelssohn at the age of 12. Daniel Stepner leads an ensemble that includes violinists Linda Quan and Julie Leven; violists David Miller and Laura Jeppesen; and violoncellists Loretta O’Sullivan and Guy Fishman.


“The Fourth of July” celebration on Friday, July 4, features music from Thomas Jefferson’s library, including selections from The Beggar’s Opera and works by American and European composers. Soprano Sharon Baker performs with violinist Stepner and harpsichordist John Gibbons.


On Friday, July 11, an encore presentation of “J. S. Bach: The Art of the Fugue” is performed in its entirety. Performers include violinist Stepner, violist David Miller, violoncellist Loretta O’Sullivan, viola da gambist Laura Jeppesen, flutist Christopher Krueger, oboist Stephen Hammer, bassoonist Michael McGraw, and harpsichordist John Gibbons.


Awake, Sweet Love,” on Friday, July 18, features English consort songs: music of Dowland, Byrd, and Gibbons performed by soprano Roberta Anderson, and viol ensemble with Sarah Cunningham, Jane Hershey, Laura Jeppesen, and Emily Walhout.

Conductor Steven Fox leads the fifth concert, “Music from the Russian Baroque,” on Friday, July 25. Musicians from the internationally acclaimed Clarion Music Society join Aston Magna artists in a program of opera excerpts and Russian baroque vocal and chamber music.


The Operatic Art of Monteverdi’s Late Madrigals” concludes the series on Friday,

August 1
, with selections from Books 7 and 8 of The Concerted Madrigals, featuring a semi-staged performance of the mini-drama Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. Singers include sopranos Kristin Watson and Dominique Labelle, mezzo-soprano Deborah Rentz-Moore, tenors Frank Kelley and William Hite, and bass David Ripley. Daniel Stepner leads the ensemble that features violinist Julie Leven, violist and viola da gambist Laura Jeppesen, violoncellist Loretta O’Sullivan, bassist Anne Trout, harpsichordist and organist Peter Sykes, and theorbist Catherine Liddell.


Aston Magna is the oldest annual summer festival in America devoted to music performed on period instruments. Under the direction of Daniel Stepner, Aston Magna’s performances aim to interpret the music of the past as the composer imagined it. Aston Magna has been recognized internationally for three decades for its contributions to the popularization of early music performed using historically accurate instruments and performance practices.


Artistic director Daniel Stepner has distinguished himself as a violinist of great versatility, having performed and recorded contemporary music with the Boston Musica Viva; the sonatas of Charles Ives with pianist John Kirkpatrick; and solo works, chamber works, and concertos from the baroque and classical eras on period instruments. Stepner recently accepted the position of first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet. He has served as concertmaster of the Handel & Haydn Society, Banchetto Musicale, Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic, and New Haven Symphony, and as associate concertmaster of Frans Brüggen’s Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century. Stepner has taught at the Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, and Longy School of Music.


Aston Magna at Bard is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts and through the generosity of the Homeland Foundation and the Leon Levy Endowment at Bard College. The Aston Magna Festival is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation. (Artists and repertoire are subject to change.)


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[Editor’s Note: The Aston Magna series is repeated on Saturday evenings at 5:00 p.m., from June 27 through August 2, at the Daniel Arts Center at Bard College at Simon’s Rock: The Early College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Single tickets are priced at $40, with multiple concert discounts available. Senior tickets are available in advance for $30. Student rush tickets are available at the door for $10. For further information about the Great Barrington concerts, call 800-875-7156 or visit In addition, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, hosts three of the concerts in a series of Sunday afternoon programs on June 29, July 6 and 13 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase at the museum after June 15 or by calling


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Daniel Stepner, artistic director Aston Magna Ensemble

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This event was last updated on 09-15-2008