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ASTON MAGNA AT BARD WILL EXPLORE THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE STRING QUARTET ON FRIDAY, JULY 4
Emily M. Darrow
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Aston Magna at Bard, 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 2003 series on Friday evening, July 4. Under the artistic direction of Daniel Stepner, Aston Magna aims to interpret the music of the past as each composer imagined it. For three decades, Aston Magna has been internationally recognized for its contributions to the popularization of early music performed with 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.
A quartet of Aston Magna regulars—violinists Stepner and Nancy Wilson, violist David Miller, and cellist Loretta O’Sullivan—will perform the opening program, The Birth of the String Quartet. Works include Gregorio Allegri’s Symphonia; Alessandro Scarlatti’s Sonata a Quattro, No. 4; Georg Philipp Telemann’s Quartetto in A Major; Haydn’s Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. "0"; Mozart’s Quartet in D Minor, K. 173; and Haydn’s "Joke" Quartet, Op. 33, No. 2.
On Friday, July 11, the series continues with Sweeter than Roses, a program of works by J. S. Bach and Purcell. Bach’s "Wedding Cantata" (Weichet Nur, betrübte Schatten, BWV 202) and Concerto in C Minor, BWV 1060, for oboe and violin will be paired with songs and sonatas of Henry Purcell, including excerpts from The Fairy Queen. Soprano Nancy Armstrong is the featured soloist for the cantata and the songs. She will be joined by oboist Stephen Hammer and an instrumental ensemble led by Daniel Stepner.
Virtuosic Italian music of the baroque will be the focus of the Friday, July 18 concert, titled Italian Madrigals and Trio Sonatas. Tenors William Hite and Frank Kelley return to perform madrigals by Monteverdi and his contemporaries. These works will be paired with trio sonatas from the same era, performed by Stepner and fellow violinist Anthony Martin. Laura Jeppesen and Peter Sykes join in on viola da gamba and harpsichord, respectively.
Soprano Dominique Labelle returns for La Belle France, a concert largely devoted to French music, on Friday, July 25. She will be joined by flutist Christopher Krueger, violinist Daniel Stepner, viola da gambist Laura Jeppesen, and harpsichordist John Gibbons in a program featuring music of Marais, Couperin, and Clérambault, whose cantata Léandre et Héro will be performed. Harpsichordist Gibbons also will perform a French Suite by Bach.
For its final event on Friday, August 1, Aston Magna celebrates its three decades of music making with a performance of the complete Brandenburg Concertos by J. S. Bach. Among the many soloists will be Josh Cohen, trumpet; John Gibbons, harpsichord; Stephen Hammer, oboe and recorder; Christopher Krueger, flute and recorder; and Daniel Stepner and Nancy Wilson, violins. Stepner will also lead the instrumental ensemble.
Daniel Stepner, Aston Magna's 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 with 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, New England Conservatory, and 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 $80 and for any three concerts, $50; single tickets cost $20. For information on the concert series and to order tickets, call The Bard Center at 845-758-7425.
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