Since its founding in 1972, the Aston Magna music festival has presented historically informed performances of (mostly) early music. It was originally located at the Aston Magna estate in the Berkshires, home of the great American violinist Albert Spalding. Every summer, Aston Magna has presented a series of concerts, products of its weeks of rehearsals, seminars and gatherings devoted to music from the Renaissance to the classical era.
After relocating from its original home, the festival moved to Bard College, where it held one of its three performances of each program. The festival is now located at Brandeis College. It continued to present performances at Bard, but its audience dwindled. At the end of the series two years ago, music director Daniel Stepner announced that there would be no further performances at Bard.
Last season, Aston Magna tried out various venues in the Berkshires and upper Hudson Valley. Surprisingly, one of the most successful was the theater at Time & Space, Ltd. in Hudson, where a single concert attracted almost as many people as had attended the entire last season. For the 2019 festival, Aston Magna returns to Hudson for four of its six concerts.
The western part of the season begins at Time & Space on July 5 with “The Birth of the String Quartet,” played by an ensemble including Stepner on period instruments. The July 11 to 13 concerts, “Music in the Age of Peter Paul Reubens,” will be played in Amenia and Great Barrington in addition to the first performance at Brandeis. On July 19, “The World of Henry Purcell” comes to Time & Space, with an ensemble of five instrumentalists and four singers. On July 26, a highly varied program called “Bach, Pachelbel and Villa-Lobos” will be performed at Hudson Hall, also in Hudson. This concert includes Pachelbel’s famous Canon accompanied by its original Gigue (and, presumably, played at authentic Baroque tempo: much faster than the drowsy versions usually heard today). The great Dominique Labelle will sing Villa-Lobos’ glorious Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5. For the last regular concert of the season, “Schubert and Beethoven” on August 2, the venue shifts to the Hudson Area Library. The pianist will be the renowned Baroque and ragtime specialist Joshua Rifkin. The season finale on August 8 will be performed only in Great Barrington.
All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-concert talk beginning at 6:45. Much further information is available at www.astonmagna.org. It should be a great pleasure to have these world-class concerts back in our area.