Aston Magna: Bringing On Our 42nd Season!

Aston Magna Music Festival 2014: A Season of Romance, War and other Human Follies

Daniel Stepner directs Bach, Corelli, Mendelssohn, Muhly and more, on period instruments at nation’s longest-running early music festival, with celebrated, world-class musicians

Aston Magna 2014 Poster

The 42nd Aston Magna Music Festival launches its 2014 season celebrating 16th-19th century music – plus a new work by acclaimed young composer Nico Muhly. The Festival, under the artistic direction of violinist Daniel Stepner, spans five weekends from June 19 – July 19 at four Northeast concert venues in Boston, the Berkshires and the Hudson Valley of New York.

The Aston Magna Festival opens on Thursday, June 19, and continues on the following four Thursdays at Slosberg Auditorium at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. On  Fridays the Festival is at Olin Hall, Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and on Saturdays at the Daniel Arts Center at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and for one concert, July 12, at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, in Great Barrington, Mass. For details on tickets and venues, visit astonmagna.org.

This season’s musical presentations feature some of the most prominent artists in the early music field: vocalists Teresa Wakim, soprano; Deborah Rentz-Moore, mezzo-soprano; Frank Kelley, tenor; and Jesse Blumberg and David Ripley, baritones. They are joined by musicians such as oboist Stephen Hammer, clarinetist Eric Hoeprich, gambist Laura Jeppesen, theorbist/lutenist Catherine Liddell, and Peter Sykes, who performs on various keyboard instruments. Notable string instrumentalists and others appear as well.

On June 19-21, Aston Magna presents a tribute to father-son composers in a C.P.E Bach 300th Birthday Celebration and J.S. Bach’s Musical Offering. Stepner will lead C.P.E. Bach’s Quartet for flute, viola and keyboard; Fantasia for harpsichord and violin, and Sonata for bass recorder, viola, and continuo. The evening peaks with J. S. Bach’s timeless composition, A Musical Offering. The ensemble: Daniel Stepner, violin, Laura Jeppesen, viola da gamba; Peter Sykes, fortepiano; Christopher Krueger, baroque flute and recorder; and Anne Black, viola and violin.

On June 26-28, Winds of Romanticism offers Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet, Crusell’s Divertimento for oboe and strings, and Mendelssohn’s Quartet in A Minor, Op. 13. The artists are acclaimed clarinetist Eric Hoeprich, playing 19th-century clarinet; Stephen Hammer, classical oboe; Daniel Stepner and Julie Leven, violins; David Miller, viola; and Guy Fishman, cello.

On July 3-5, Stepner offers a collection of seldom heard vocal and instrumental works under the title “Music from a Turbulent 17th Century England: Galliards, laments and sonatas before and after the English Civil War.”  Music by Dowland, Lawes, Lanier, Purcell and Blow is performed by Deborah Rentz-Moore, mezzo-soprano, and David Ripley, baritone, accompanied by Peter Sykes, organ; Catherine Liddell, theorbo and lute; Daniel Stepner and Danielle Maddon, baroque violins; and Laura Jeppesen, viola da gamba.

On July 10-12, “Vice Squad: Baroque Skirmishes with Alcohol, Tobacco, Coffee and Love” illustrates through music the temptations and delights of ‘vices’ in their various forms. Stepner leads an instrumental ensemble with Teresa Wakim, soprano; Frank Kelley, tenor; and Jesse Blumberg, baritone. Works include J. S. Bach’s Coffee Cantata, and an aria from Amore traditore; Purcell: Songs of Love and Drink; Tobias Hume: Tobacco; Thomas Ravenscroft: Songs of Ale and Tobacco; Nicolas Bernier: Cantata, Le Caffé .

The Aston Magna Festival concludes July 17-19 with Italian Trio Sonatas and a new work — Aston Magna — by Nico Muhly. The program includes works by Corelli, Vivaldi, Rossi, Stradella, and Perncuci, with Daniel Stepner and Joan Plana, baroque violins; Laura Jeppesen, viola da gamba; and Michael Sponseller, harpsichord.

Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased at astonmagna.org, or (800) 595-4TIX(4849). For the Mahaiwe concert: (413) 528-0100.

The Aston Magna Music Festival concerts are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Aston Magna is also supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council; the local cultural councils of Waltham, Egremont-Alford, and Sheffield; and by Friends of Aston Magna.