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Press Release

ASTON MAGNA SUMMER CONCERT SERIES AT BARD OPENS WITH "UPON A SUMMER'S DAY . . ." FEATURING PERFORMANCES OF ITALIAN AND ELIZABETHAN MADRIGALS July 6 concert features sopranos Sharon Baker and Roberta Anderson, countertenor Jeffrey Gall, tenors Frank Kelle

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.- Currently under the artistic direction of Daniel Stepner, the Aston Magna series has been a highlight of the month of July at Bard College since 1983. Allan Kozinn wrote in the New York Times that this series "has been bringing together some of the best American early music players for performances . . . [to perform] in the highly polished, texturally transparent style for which they have been known since the festival's early days." The first program of the five-concert series, "Upon a Summer's Day," will begin at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, July 6, in Olin Hall at Bard; this will be preceded by a preconcert talk at 7:00 p.m.

The program of Italian and Elizabethan madrigals of the seventeenth century features sopranos Sharon Baker and Roberta Anderson, countertenor Jeffrey Gall, tenors Frank Kelley and William Hite, and baritone David Ripley. Selections include madrigals from William Byrd's Songs of Sundrie Natures (1589); Thomas Morley's First Book of Canzonets (1595) and Canzonets or Little Short Songs for Three Voices (1593); Orlando Gibbons' First Set of Madrigals and Motetts (1612); Claudio Monteverdi's Fourth Book of Madrigals (1603) and Fifth Book of Madrigals (1605); and Luzzasco Luzzaschi's Fifth Book of Madrigals (1595).

The series continues on July 13 with "Music of Venice and Two Bachs." Trios by Mozart and Schubert are the focus of the July 21 concert, Aston Magna favorite artists violinist Stanley Ritchie and harpsichordist Elisabeth Wright return for the July 27 concert, "The Italian Trio Sonata." The season concludes on August 3 with the program "Bach and Purcell."

Aston Magna at Bard is made possible, in part, by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts and through the generosity of the Homeland Foundation and The Leon Levy Foundation at Bard College. A subscription for the five concerts is $60, or any three concerts $40; single tickets cost $15. For information on the concert series and to order tickets, call The Bard Center at 845-758-7425.

About the Artists:

Soprano Nancy Armstrong's luminous performances extend across the musical spectrum from early Renaissance to American musical theater. The Boston Globe described her voice as "a plaintive, humane instrument" and calls her "an intelligent artist who cherishes words." Her first solo recording, featuring her interpretations of Handel's powerful cantata Lucrezia and selected favorite songs of Purcell, will soon be released. She is also featured on recordings of Handel's L'Allegro ed il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, Virgil Thomson's songs, Perera's The Outermost House, and Trimble's Four Fragments from the Canterbury Tales. Armstrong is a lecturer in singing studies for the Brandeis University Theatre Arts Graduate Program.

Soprano Sharon Baker is revered by audiences for her stylistic musicianship and purity of tone, notably in the interpretation of baroque and contemporary music. Her current season highlights include Pergolesi's Stabat Mater in collaboration with Peter Martins and the New York City ballet and vocal chamber music of Handel and Bach with the Boston Museum Trio. Baker is a regular soloist with Boston's Handel & Haydn Society. She has appeared at the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals and recorded music of Haydn, Handel, and Mozart, and is featured on a recording of Moravian music with Boston Baroque.

Jeffrey Gall, America's most prominent countertenor, has been heard in many of the major concert halls and opera companies in this country and abroad. He was the first countertenor to appear at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, where, in 1988, he made his debut singing Ptolemy in Handel's Julius Caesar and later the role of Apollo in Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice, which was broadcast internationally. He has appeared at La Scala; the Spoleto, Edinburgh, and Bordeaux Festivals; San Carlo in Naples; with the Opera Company of Boston, and the San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Chicago Lyric Operas; and at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the Kennedy Center. Gall has recorded for Columbia, Nonesuch, and Titanic Records, and appears on the Smithsonian Institution's recording of Messiah and Harmonia Mundi's Xerxes by Cavalli, as well as Centaur Records' issue of Handel's London Cantatas.

Tenor William Hite has garnered critical acclaim through appearances with the American Symphony Orchestra, Bach Consort, New York City Ballet, National Arts Center Orchestra (Ottawa), Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Tafelmusik, and Philharmonia Baroque. His discography includes recordings of Handel's The Triumph of Time and Truth with Aston Magna and Mozart's Requiem under the direction of Andrew Parrott. He is featured on numerous award-winning recordings with the Boston Camerata and the medieval music ensemble Sequentia. His festival appearances include Tanglewood, Santa Fe, Banff, and Vancouver, and in Europe at Acadamie Musicales (Saintes), Aix-en-Provence, and the Holland Festival Oude Muzieke. He teaches voice at Boston University.

Tenor Frank Kelley has performed many roles with the San Francisco Opera Company and the Boston Lyric Opera and has appeared at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, the Frankfurt Opera, and in Peter Sellars productions of Die Sieben Todsünden, Das Kleine Mahagonny, Cosí fan tutti, and Le Nozze di Figaro. Kelley has sung with the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestras; the National and Dallas Symphonies; the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St. Luke's. He has recorded for London, Decca, Erato, Harmonia Mundi France, Teldec, Telarc, Koch International, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, and Arabesque.

Bass-baritone David Ripley performs widely in oratorio, recital, chamber opera, and early and contemporary music programs. As soloist with the Boston Camerata and the Waverly Consort of New York, he has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and South America, appearing regularly at Lincoln Center. He has performed with Boston Baroque, Boston Cecilia, Cantata Singers, Friends of Dr. Burney, and the New England Bach Festival. Ripley has participated in recordings for Erato, Harmonia Mundi, Centaur, A.F.K.A., and Smithsonian records, and a second recording of his own songs for voice and guitar, Mustard Seed, Songs of Faith, was recently released. He teaches voice at the University of New Hampshire and Harvard University.

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This event was last updated on 06-15-2001