The Aston Magna season, the 45th(!), is almost upon us. We can look forward to an extended schedule, adding fifth and sixth weekends at the Brandeis and Great Barrington venues, which is no longer on the Simon’s Rock campus, but at the recently renovated Saint James Place.
Performances take place on six Thursdays at Brandeis University (7 p.m.) June 15 – July 20; four Fridays at Bard College, June 16 – July 7 (8 p.m.), and six Saturdays in the Berkshires June 17 – July 22 at the newly restored Saint James Place in Great Barrington (6 p.m.). Pre-concert talks take place one hour ahead of each curtain time; Great Barrington concerts are followed by wine and cheese receptions with the artists.
On opening weekend, June 15, 16 and 17, Aston Magna performs “Music for Forbidden Dances” including sarabands, chaconas and tangos, featuring guest artist Hector del Curto, bandoneon, with Aston Magna musicians, including Frank Kelley, tenor. Music by Juan Arañes (Catalonia, ?-in or after 1649), J. S. Bach (Eisenach 1685-Leipzig 1750), Antonio Bertali (Verona 1605-Vienna 1669), Tarquinio Merula (Cremona 1594/5-1665), Jacques Morel (ca. 1700-1749), Henry Purcell (London 1659-1695), Arcangelo Corelli (Fusignano 1653-Rome 1713), Carlos Gardel (Toulouse 1890-Medellin 1935), Luis Del Curto, Astor Piazzolla (Mar Del Plata 1921-Buenos Aires 1992), Robert Xavier Rodriguez (b. San Antonio 1946).
The first half of the program will be devoted to 17th century sarabandes and chaconnes. These dances are most familiar to us today in their stately evolved form. Early in their development, however, they were rather livelier and often sexually suggestive, like the 20th century tango, which will occupy the second half of the program. Read Daniel Stepner’s program note here.
Weekend 2: Guest artist Eric Hoeprich, clarinet, joins the ensemble for “Late, Great Mozart,” including the clarinet quintet, on June 22, 23 and 24. The Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, will share the program with the great Divertimento for Violin, Violan and Cello, K. 563.
Weekend 3: On June 29, 30 and July 1, soprano Dominique Labelle will perform in “Arias, Sinfonias and Biblical Oratorios” with the Aston Magna string ensemble. Selections by Caldara, Handel, Purcell and Clérambault.
Weekend 4: On July 6, 7 and 8, Brazilian violinist, Edson Scheid, will play Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Violin, a rare opportunity to hear these supremely virtuosic works performed on a Baroque violin, using gut strings, as Paganini himself would have done.
Weekend 5 (Brandeis and Great Barrington only): On July 13 and 15, Aston Magna presents “Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata and its Mozartean Models” with Daniel Stepner, violin, and guest artist David Hyun-Su Kim, fortepiano. Sonatas by Beethoven and Mozart.
Weekend 6: (Brandeis and Great Barrington only): For its final weekend, July 20 and 22, the ensemble performs “Voices and Viols: Music from the Court of Isabella d’Este” with mezzo-soprano Deborah Rentz-Moore and tenor Aaron Sheehan, with a consort of viols. Music by Josquin, Agricola, Obrecht, Busnois, Isaac, Tromboncino.
Venues: Thursdays at Slosberg Music Center, Brandeis University, Waltham; Fridays at Laszló Z. Bitó ’60 Conservatory, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. and Saturdays in the Berkshires at Saint James Place, 352 Main Street, Great Barrington.
Tickets: $40 in advance; $45 at the door; students with ID $5; children accompanied by adult: free; ArtSmart/Under 30s: $15.