Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.--Aston Magna, whose concert series has been described by the New York Times as "America's preeminent summer early-music event," will present the first concert of the 2002 series at Bard College on Friday evening, July 5. Under the artistic direction of Daniel Stepner, Aston Magna aims to interpret the music of the past as each composer imagined it. For almost three decades, Aston Magna has been internationally recognized for its contributions to the popularization of early music performed using historically accurate instruments and techniques. The concert, presented by The Bard Center, will begin at 8:00 p.m. in Olin Hall (a preconcert talk begins at 7:00 p.m.).

The program, "Mozart and Haydn," features canzonets, keyboard fantasies, and concert arias. It will include Mozart's Bella mia fiamma, K. 528, with soprano Nancy Armstrong and fortepianist Peter Sykes. 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...she is an intelligent artist who cherishes words"; and the New Yorker honored her with the title "the Purcell Prima Donna of our day." Sykes is active as a solo performer on organ, harpsichord, clavichord, and fortepiano. He has appeared at regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Historical Society, the Boston Early Music Festival, and the Library of Congress, as well as with Aston Magna.

The series continues with "Bach and Vivaldi" on Friday, July 12. This program includes two works by Bach: the solo cantata "Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut" (BWV 199), with soprano Sharon Baker; and Concerto for Oboe d'Amore in A Major (BWV 1055a), with soloist Stephen Hammer. The program also includes Vivaldi's Concerto for Strings in E Minor, F. 11, No. 13. An instrumental ensemble led by Daniel Stepner (baroque violin) and including Laura Jeppesen (baroque viola and viola da gamba), Loretta O'Sullivan (baroque cello), Jane Starkman (baroque violin), and Peter Sykes (keyboard) will accompany the soloists.

Harpsichordist John Gibbons, violinist Stepner, and viola da gambist Jeppesen are the featured performers for "Concerts en Trio" on Friday, July 19. They will perform Jean-Philippe Rameau's five colorful Pièces de clavecin en concerts.

The main feature of the concert "The Concerted Madrigal" on Friday, July 26, will be the seventh and eighth books of Claudio Monteverdi's madrigals on the topics of love and war. The program will also include instrumental music of early baroque composers Salomone Rossi and Biagio Manni. Performers include sopranos Roberta Anderson and Laurie Monahan, countertenor Jeffrey Gall, tenors Bruce Fithian and William Hite, baritone David Ripley, violinists Stepner and Kinloch Earle, lutist Catherine Liddell, and keyboardist Sykes.

The Aston Magna at Bard 2002 series will conclude with "Bach and Handel." This program will feature performances of works by Bach, Handel, and Correlli (among others) on Friday, August 2. An instrumental ensemble, led by Stepner, will be joined by soprano Dominique Labelle, who will perform Bach's cantata "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen!" (with baroque trumpeter Josh Cohen) and Handel's recently rediscovered Gloria. Cohen is also featured in the performance of Arcangelo Correlli's sonata for trumpet and strings. The instrumental ensemble includes keyboardist Sykes, baroque violinists Stepner and Nancy Wilson, baroque violist David Miller, baroque cellist O'Sullivan, and baroque bassist Anne Trout.

Daniel Stepner, artistic director, is a distinguished violinist of great versatility. He has performed and recorded contemporary music with 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. He is first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet and 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, the New England Conservatory, and the Longy School of Music.

Aston Magna at Bard is made possible, in part, by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts and the generosity of the Homeland Foundation and the Leon Levy Foundation at Bard College. A subscription for the five concerts is $60 and for 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.

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This event was last updated on 06-10-2002