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Moving About in their Respective Areas: Aston Magna and Music at Eden’s Edge


BMInt is offering a series of notices on the summer concert series and festivals in attractive sites that we believe will be of interest to our readers. The concert schedules are listed in our Upcoming Events. In the interview below we present Music at Eden’s Edge, which starts its season on June 13 in various locations in the North Shore of Massachusetts, and Aston Magna, which starts on July 18 at two locations, the Berkshires and the Hudson River Valley.

Aston Magna presents each of its four concerts at Bard College in Annandale-on-the-Hudson, NY, and then at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, MA. (However, the first two also can be heard a day earlier (June 17, June 24) at Brandeis University in Waltham.)

Music at Eden’s Edge, under Artistic Director Maria Benotti, plays three performances of each of its four concerts at various historic buildings on the North Shore: Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church in Danvers, Community House of Hamilton and Wenham in Hamilton, North Shore Arts Association in Gloucester, Peabody Institute Library, Willowdale Estate in Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, and one at the private home of John Archer, in Danvers. The performances on Tuesday afternoons at the Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church in Danvers, the Senior/Family Series, are free.

A special pre-season offering from Eden’s Edge is “Really Open Rehearsal,” during which composer John H. Wallace will discuss and the orchestra demonstrate his new piece, Structures. Commissioned to open Eden’s Edge’s 29th season, Structures is a musical impression of the groups’ five performing venues. This one event, on June 13, takes place at the Salem Athenaeum in Salem. Regular performances follow.

The second concert features a piano trio, and the third, Baroque Dance, with strings and harpsichord and including a solo cello piece by Boismortier, to be played by Sarah Freyberg. The last concert in the summer series, on the last day of summer, features string quartets, prominently, violinist Daniel Stepner, a well-known fixture of the Early Music scene in Boston, who becomes our natural segue into Aston Magna.

Aston Magna, which inter­prets the music of the past as the composer imagined it — that is, on period instruments — is the oldest summer festival in America to do so. Now marking its 38th season, Aston Magna is led by Artistic Director Daniel Stepner. The core group is a number of other long-time Baroque instrument players in Boston—violist Laura Jeppeson, violinistJudith Leven, cellist Guy Fishman, oboist Stephen Hammer, flutist Christopher Krueger,  and harpsichordist Peter Sykes, along with tenor Frank Kelley, … but the lure of Aston Magna is hearing them in a bucolic summer setting. The views of the Hudson River and the Catskills from the Bard College campus are magnificent, with many fine sites for picnics; and Great Barrington also hosts a fine summer theater.

Of particular interest will be the final program, “17th-Century Italian Art and Music: What Artemisia Heard.” Artemisia Gentileschi was a highly skilled artist in the early years of the 17th century — one of the earliest notable European women artists — with her own graphic, realistic style inspired by Caravaggio and Michelangelo. She would have heard music by Monteverdi, Marini, Frescobaldi … which Aston Magna will play while images of works by these artists are projected.

The full calendar for these festivals is found in BMInt’s Upcoming Events.

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