Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily M. Darrow

Beginning July 9, five Friday concerts will feature songs on Shakespearean texts; instrumental works by Mozart, Weber, and Bach; and Monteverdi’s Orfeo

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 its 2004 concert series at Bard College on Friday evenings from July 9 through August 6. The series is sponsored by The Bard Center. Under the artistic direction of Daniel Stepner, Aston Magna aims to interpret the music of the past as each composer envisioned it. For three decades, Aston Magna has been internationally recognized for its contributions to the popularization of early music, using historically accurate instruments and techniques. A preconcert talk begins at 7:00 p.m. in Olin Hall, followed by the performance at 8:00 p.m.

"Music for William Shakespeare" will open the series on July 9. Texts from The Tempest, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and other plays will be sung in settings by composers of the 17th and 18th centuries, including Matthew Locke, Henry Purcell, Joseph Haydn, Thomas Morley, Thomas Arne, and others. Soloists—soprano Sharon Baker and baritone David Ripley—will join in this musical tribute to the Bard. Peter Sykes will perform at the keyboard.

On July 16 the series will present "Mozart, Weber, and the Clarinet," featuring clarinetist Eric Hoeprich. The virtuosic B-flat Quintet of Carl Maria von Weber will be paired with Mozart’s beloved A Major Quintet, K. 581, repeated by popular demand. Also on this program is the String Quartet in G minor by George Onslow. Hoeprich will be joined by violinists Stepner and Nancy Wilson, violist David Miller, and cellist Loretta O’Sullivan.

Appropriately entitled "Completely Mozart," the concert on July 23 includes additional chamber works by the master, including a recent discovery. Two well-known works, the Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478, and the Oboe Quartet in F Major, K. 370, will be followed by a newly discovered transcription of his magisterial Serenade in B-flat Major ("Gran Partita"), K. 361, arranged by Mozart for piano, oboe, and strings. Oboist Stephen Hammer will return for the final two works and will be joined by violinists Stepner and Wilson, violist Miller, and cellist O’Sullivan. Fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout will make his Aston Magna debut on this program.

The fourth concert of the series, on July 30, will feature works by Johann Sebastian Bach in "Bach the Keyboardist, Bach the Violinist." Violinist Stepner will be joined by John Gibbons at the harpsichord. The evening will feature two sonatas for harpsichord and violin, Bach’s own transcription of his solo violin sonata for keyboard, and a new transcription for violin by Stepner of Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903.

For its final event of the 2004 program on August 6, the Aston Magna at Bard series will present a semistaged version of Monteverdi’s Orfeo, a story of the power of music and the frailty of the human soul. The stellar cast includes tenor Frank Kelley as Orfeo, sopranos Roberta Anderson and Laurie Monahan as madrigalists, countertenor Jeffrey Gall, tenor William Hite, and baritone David Ripley. Additional cast members will be announced at a later date. An instrumental ensemble will be led by Stepner.

Daniel Stepner, Aston Magna 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, 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 $60; 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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This event was last updated on 08-06-2004