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In Their Words

Tango Bandoneon & del Curto with Aston Magna

The bandoneon is the leading lady of the tango and other South American dance music, and she comes alive in the hands of a master, Hector del Curto, during Aston Magna’s opening weekend June 15-17. “Music for Forbidden Dances” captures a swath of seductive dance music as del Curto teams up with the Aston Magna musicians for a concert of tangos, sarabands and chaconas. The music of Arañes, Bach, Bert
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Josh Cohen: Blowing Winds

My parents met in a music history appreciation class at Brooklyn College. They only really listen to classical music and the Beatles. I began playing piano at about age 5 and switched to trumpet in the 5th grade. My father and I used to listen to David Munrow’s medieval and Renaissance music history audio documentary when I was very young.  I always wanted to play the instruments that were around at the time th
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Jeanine Krause: How church music made an oboeist

Aside from cartoons and (I probably shouldn’t admit this), as a child I had a wild attachment to an LP called “Hooked on Classics,” a record of the early 80s of The Royal Philharmonic, conducted by Louis Clark. As a preacher’s kid I was steeped in the hymns of the Lutheran church and surrounded by fabulous church musicians and choirs. In addition, my father has a passion for organ music and co
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Jesse Blumberg, baritone: A life in music

From piano to trumpet and finding his voice I grew up with lots of pianists in my life–my grandmother, mother, sister, and aunt — and those last two are music teachers as well. I took up piano around age 4, quit at 5; restarted at 6, re-quit at 7.  Biggest mistakes of my life in music!  When the music man came to our school I chose the trumpet, presumably because it seemed like it was the loudest of the b
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Perfect Pitch: David Miller, Viola

I’ve always loved listening to music from my earliest years.  I have perfect pitch and synesthesia, meaning I associate colors with different keys.  When I was a toddler, my mother played phonograph records for me. When I would ask for the red or the green music, Mom would write down the colors on the record albums so she would know for the next time.  She told me later that it had nothing to do with the color
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Song to Swan: Cellist Loretta O’Sullivan

There were no professional musicians in my family, but singing was a large part of our party entertainment. I chose the cello when all the instruments were played at our elementary school. I guess the Swan won me over. The most powerful experience in my early years was attending Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine, where a world of chamber music was opened to me, coached by master musicians. I believe there is no better
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Julie Leven: A Warm, Dark Sound

When I was in fourth grade, the fifth grade violinists at my St. Louis elementary school played a demonstration concert for us. Then, the music teacher announced that we could sign up for free violin lessons at school, and that evening I announced to my mother that I wanted to sign up for lessons. My parents – they were not musicians — attended the St. Louis Symphony regularly and listened to classical music at
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Bach to Rock: Noise with Alex Burtzos

As Stravinsky once said, “Good composers borrow – great composers steal.” Like most future musicians (I suspect), I have had a lifelong interest in noisemaking. Before the introduction of instruments, which eventually channeled this energy in a specifically musical direction, I enjoyed shouting, banging, and using household objects as makeshift percussion equipment (all of this is well-documented on VHS tapes residin
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Stepner and Jeppesen: A Musical Marriage

They took a stand, and that was that. It was in 1968, while sharing a music stand at Yale University, that Daniel Stepner and Laura Jeppesen met, and a musical marriage took root for many future decades. Since the early 1990s, Dan and Laura have anchored the Aston Magna Music Festival’s early music – Dan on his baroque violin, and Laura on her viola da gamba. Together they open the Aston Magna Festival this week, Jun
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Rentz-Moore: A Life in Classical Singing

As a child, I really enjoyed singing music in our church choir, with my friends. I also studied piano, flute and violin, although with the latter, I never got beyond, “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” In high school, I participated in the Berkshire County Junior Miss scholarship competition, for which I learned a Mozart art song.  That song really captured my imagination, and I began to think about studying
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