CON­NECT­ING WITH THE PAST EARLY MU­SIC FES­TI­VAL BROAD­ENS HORI­ZONS IN IMAG­I­NA­TION AND SOUND

The Day - Sound & Country - - FRONT PAGE - By LIZ MU­GAVERO

In its 29th sea­son, the Connecticut Early Mu­sic Fes­ti­val’s 2011 con­certs will bring lis­ten­ers on a mu­si­cal jour­ney from the Mid­dle Ages through the Clas­si­cal era. The fes­ti­vals’ six shows are all con­nected by a com­mon thread, ac­cord­ing to Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Eric Rice — they will ex­am­ine the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the coun­tries north and south of the Alps, and the mu­si­cal in­flu­ences each re­gion had on the other.

“It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing pe­riod, be­cause peo­ple didn’t do much trav­el­ing then, but mu­si­cians did. And while peo­ple think of Italy as the big­gest in­flu­encer, the movers and shak­ers were ac­tu­ally from the north,” Rice said. “At the same time, the north­ern com­posers were look­ing at the in­flu­ence of the Baroque style to bring that back home.”

Those who at­tend all six con­certs, staged over three week­ends in June, will have the ben­e­fit of the theme to ori­ent them to the mu­sic. Per­for­mances range from opera fea­tur­ing Han­del’s Serse (Xerxes), to Re­nais­sance mu­sic per­formed by an en­sem­ble di­rected by

14 Rice, to The Pi­anos of Vi­enna and Lon­don, fea­tur­ing a replica of a 1795 Vi­en­nese piano and a re­stored 1806 piano. Cer­tain shows will fea­ture a pre­con­cert talk given by Rice, and re­cep­tions with the per­form­ers im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing.

Pre­sent­ing con­certs based on a spe­cific theme is some­thing Rice says the fes­ti­val does each year, in part be­cause it helps them se­lect which mu­si­cal groups to fea­ture.

While the term“early mu­sic” cov­ers a lot of ground, this year’s fes­ti­val cov­ers works span­ning from the 14th through the 19th cen­turies, with the most rec­og­niz­able pe­riod from 1700 to 1900, the time of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms.

Over time, said Rice, peo­ple re­al­ized that the way mu­sic was per­formed from the 19th cen­tury on is not the way it was per­formed in ear­lier times, and re­vivals such as these repli­cate the sound of the orig­i­nal work to bring the com­poser’s orig­i­nal in­ten­tions to light. Pe­riod in­stru­ments, in­clud­ing the pi­anos used in this year’s recital, are es­sen­tial to this mis­sion and lend va­ri­ety to the fes­ti­val’s of­fer­ings.

This year’s con­certs will be held in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing Ston­ing­ton and Old Lyme, but the ma­jor­ity of the per­for­mances will be held at Evans Hall and Hark­ness Chapel on the Connecticut Col­lege cam­pus. Rice is hop­ing to “reach as far afield as pos­si­ble” in at­tract­ing new au­di­ences, es­pe­cially young peo­ple.

“It’s more ex­pen­sive to pro­duce than a movie, and it de­mands more work from the au­di­ence,” Rice said. “But peo­ple get past that when they re­al­ize it ac­tu­ally has a great deal of pop­u­lar ap­peal.”

While afi­ciona­dos of early mu­sic will rec­og­nize some of the per­form­ers, Rice said he hopes peo­ple by now have come to un­der­stand, and ex­pect, the high cal­iber of per­form­ers the fes­ti­val em­ploys each year in ev­ery show.

He said he feels early mu­sic has be­come a con­stant on the shore­line, an­other perk on the list of items mak­ing this piece of the world a de­sir­able place to live. “These cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions help make an area what it is,” he said. “Hav­ing a lot of op­tions is key.”

Ed­u­ca­tion is also key in get­ting the com­mu­nity en­gaged in the world of early mu­sic. The fes­ti­val presents pro­grams in area schools to en­cour­age the younger gen­er­a­tion to gain a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

“The per­form­ers we have con­nect with the past, and that’s not what stu­dents come across any­more in mu­sic,” Rice said. “We want stu­dents to think about what mu­sic is, what it does, and how it speaks dif­fer­ently than an old book or paint­ing. We want them to imag­ine.”

For tick­ets or more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.ctear­ly­mu­sic.org or call 860-439-2787.

OPERA - HAN­DEL’S SERSE (XERXES)

Fea­tur­ing the Ar­ca­dia Play­ers 8 p.m. Satur­day, June 11 Evans Hall, Conn. Col­lege

FROM AVI­GNON TO THE SIS­TINE CHAPEL

En­sem­ble Origo 5 p.m. Sun­day, June 12 Christ the King Church, Old Lyme

VI­VALDI AND BACK

Sinfonia New York 8 p.m. Satur­day, June 18 Hark­ness Chapel, Conn. Col­lege

A MU­SI­CAL BAN­QUET - 1610

My Lord Cham­ber­lain’s Con­sort 5 p.m. Sun­day, June 19 Hark­ness Chapel, Conn. Col­lege.

THE PI­ANOS OF VI­ENNA AND LON­DON

Sylvia Berry 8 p.m. Satur­day, June 25 La Grua Cen­ter, Ston­ing­ton

STY­LUS LUX­U­RI­ANS

Gabrieli, Mon­teverdi and Schutz 5 p.m. Sun­day, June 26 Evans Hall, Conn. Col­lege

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED

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