Music from the Earth

Last modified: Thursday, June 11, 2015
Electric Earth Concerts offers programs in the Monadnock region throughout the year, inspired by the words of Beethoven: “Music is the electric soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” And summer is prime time for Electric Earth founders Jonathan Bagg and Laura Gilbert, who say they’ll be “all over the map” with the events they have planned during their fourth season.

“We always try to gear up in summer, and I like to have a lot of variety,” said Bagg in a recent phone interview. “We have stuff from the 1600s and stuff from the 21st century. I see it as having something for everybody.”

The oldest music of the summer will be provided by ACRONYM, a 10-piece string ensemble that will perform at the Jaffrey Center Meeting House on June 24. The group, founded by cellist Kivie Cahn-Lipman, will be playing long-forgotten pieces from the German cantata repertoire of the 17th century, using baroque instruments.

“It’s all new to modern ears,” Bagg said about ACRONYM’s concerts. “They play on early instruments. There’s a jazzy, rhythmic way they play; it’s a very different experience than hearing a modern orchestra.”

Cahn-Lipman has titled the program “O redempta gens Mortalium” [O people redeemed from Death], which Bagg said is a pun based the fact that ACRONYM “has actually resurrected these pieces.”

Prior to performing their concerts, the group hones their repertoire to the point where they’re ready to make a recording, according to Bagg.

“They’re very intense,” he said. “I can trust Kivie to give us a really outstanding performance.”

Another summer highlight will be Osvaldo Golijov’s 2004 composition “Ayre,” which soprano Ilana Davidson and an 11-piece orchestra will present at Ahavas Achim Synagogue in Keene on Aug. 15.

Bagg said the Argentine composer wove together music from the Sephardic, Arabic and Spanish traditions, using instruments ranging from klezmer clarinet and accordion to modern laptop synthesizer.

“At times it can sound almost like rock music,” Bagg said. “It’s a wonderful amalgamation of different styles. It’s a wild, kaleidoscopic journey.”

According to Bagg, Golijov brings together the diverse traditions to create a piece with universal appeal.

“He’s saying that despite our differences, we all share this common need and common bond through music.”

On July 9, Bagg, who plays the viola, and Gilbert, a flutist, will be joined by violinist Gabriela Diaz and cellist Robert Burkhart for a program at the Old Meetinghouse in Francestown that they have titled “Light and Shadow.”

“We’ll begin with Mozart and end with a world premiere of a piece by Stephen Jaffe written just this year,” Bagg said. “We’ll have a piece by Gunther Schuller, which we’re excited to do because he’ll be getting the MacDowell Medal this summer, and one by Andrew Norman, who writes very energetic, mellifluous music.”

Bagg said the concert will demonstrate the variety of choices available to composers today.

“If you were growing up in Mozart’s time, there was only one way to write. Anything different would be prohibited,” he said. “Today it’s wonderfully diverse. That’s what I like to celebrate about our modern music.”

Electric Earth will also offer a chamber music concert, featuring works by Mozart, Beethoven and Reger, in conjunction with a wine tasting at the LaBelle Winery in Amherst on July 26.

Bagg said he’s hoping the concert will expose Electric Earth to audiences from the Manchester and Nashua area, while also drawing many of his regular patrons.

“The winery has a big, beautiful room to perform in,” he said. “The idea is to have fun.”

The final summer concert will by the Horszowski Trio & Friends, who will play Mendelssohn’s Trio in C minor, Shostakovich’s 1940 Piano Quintet, and a Mozart string quartet on Aug. 29 at the First Church in Jaffrey.

The summer concerts will all start at 7:30 p.m., except for the LaBelle Winery event, which will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Tickets for all concerts are $25.

For additional information, go to electricearthconcerts.org.