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 2003 concert series at Bard College on Friday evenings from July 4 through August 1. 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 imagined it. For three decades, Aston Magna has been internationally recognized for its contributions to the popularization of early music performed using historically accurate instruments and techniques. A preconcert talk begins each evening at 7:00 p.m. in Olin Hall, followed by the performance at 8:00 p.m.
The series will open on July 4 with "The Birth of the String Quartet," featuring works by Allegri, Haydn, Mozart, Scarlatti, and Telemann. Performers include violinists Daniel Stepner and Nancy Wilson, violist David Miller, and cellist Loretta O'Sullivan.
The program "Sweeter than Roses" on July 11 will offer works by Bach and Purcell and will feature soprano Nancy Armstrong, with an instrumental ensemble including Daniel Stepner and Kinloch Earle, baroque violins; Stephen Hammer, baroque oboe; Laura Jeppesen, viola; Loretta O'Sullivan, baroque cello; Anne Trout, baroque bass; and Peter Sykes, harpsichord. Bach's Wedding Cantata (Weichert Nur, betrübte Schatten, BWV 202) will be paired with songs and sonatas of Henry Purcell.
"Italian Madrigals and Trio Sonatas" will be featured on the program of July 18. Italian music of the baroque era will be performed by tenors William Hite and Frank Kelley, baroque violinists Stepner and Anthony Martin, viola da gambist Laura Jeppesen, and harpsichordist Peter Sykes.
On July 25, "La Belle France," a concert largely devoted to French music will feature soprano Dominique LaBelle. The program will pair the music of Couperin, Leclair, and Marais, with the cantata Léandre et Héro by Clérambault. The ensemble will include Christopher Krueger, baroque flute; Stepner, baroque violin; and John Gibbons, harpsichord.
On August 1, the 2003 Aston Magna series at Bard will conclude with a gala concert celebrating Aston Magna's three decades of performance. An instrumental ensemble led by Stepner will perform the complete Brandenburg Concertos by Bach. Soloists include trumpeter Josh Cohen, harpsichordist Gibbons, oboists Hammer and Virginia Brewer, flutist Chris Krueger (who will also perform on the recorder), violinists Stepner, Wilson, and Jane Starkman, and violist Miller.
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, 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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