June in Jaffrey

Jaffrey: Electric Earth Concerts puts on month-long festival celebrating classical and folk artists

  • The Horsowski Trio -- Jesse Mills, left, Rieko Aizawa and Raman Ramakrioshnan -- (pictured) will join Jonathan Bagg for a performance of Stephen Hartke's "King of the Sun" on Saturday at First Church in Jaffrey.

Electric Earth Concerts will be taking up residence in Jaffrey this month, with a mini-festival featuring both classical and folk performances, as well as a contra dance. Four of the five events will be held at the Grand View Inn, which will serve as a base for the “June in Jaffrey” festival.

“We decided we wanted to put together a focused series to sort of kick off the summer,” said Electric Earth Artistic Director Jonathan Bagg last week. “We have an opportunity to have a home for a few weeks. When you get musicians working together intensively, it can produce great results.”

Bagg said the Grand View Inn has a barn with comfortable seating and a platform that works well as a stage, providing a great setting for all types of music.

“It’s very good acoustically,” he said of the barn. “We gave a couple of concerts there last year and were very pleased.”

The series will open with a solo concert at the Grand View on June 13 of pieces by J.S. Bach, featuring violinist Nicholas Kitchen. A North Carolina native who has played extensively as first violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet, Kitchen will perform both complete works and selected movements from the Six Sonatas and Partitas. Kitchen, who is known for his commentary as well as his musicianship, will speak about the pieces throughout the performance and a projection of Bach’s original manuscript will add visual impact to the evening.

The mood will shift at the Grand View on June 17, when Tim Eriksen will interpret old ballads, love songs, shape-note songs and dance tunes.

“Tim really involves the audience in what he does,” Bagg said. “He’ll have people up and singing.”

A native of New England, Eriksen was part of the New York punk scene of the 1980s, spent time in south India learning to play one of Indian classical music’s most challenging instruments, the veena, was a singer and guitarist for the traditional and turbo-folk Bosnian band Zabe i Babe and became the driving force behind the folk-noise band Cordelia’s Dad. He’s played at Carnegie Hall and on the “Prairie Home Companion” radio show.

On June 22, the scene will shift to the Jaffrey First Church and across the green at the old Meetinghouse, with an intermission featuring refreshments outdoors under the trees. The concert, featuring the acclaimed Horszowski Trio, bassist Jared Egan, and friends, will include the world premiere of “Welcome to Phase Space,” a new trio by Eric Moe that was commissioned by Electric Earth. Other pieces will include Franz Schubert’s joyous “Trout Quintet,” Antonin Dvorak’s jovial quintet for bass and strings and Concertino by Erwin Schuhoff, for bass, flute, and viola.

Music lovers are encouraged to come to the Grand View at 6 p.m. on June 27, bringing a picnic basket to enjoy dinner outside while gazing at Mount Monadnock before heading into the barn for a concert of traditional music by the group Trip to Nelson, which will flow seamlessly into a contra dance with caller Lisa Sieverts.

Featuring musicians Perin Ellsworth-Heller, Richard Backes, Lizza Backes, Matt Garland and Gordon Peery, many of whom play multiple instruments, Trip to Nelson is an energetic and innovative band, well-known to contra dance enthusiasts.

The June in Jaffrey festival concludes on June 29, with a 4 p.m. concert in the Grand View barn titled “Quintetsential,” which with feature the string quartets of Brahms and Mendelssohn. Bagg, an accomplished musician, will be playing the viola, along with Adela Pena, violin; Lilit Gampel, violin; and Greg Hesselink, cello.

Bagg said the June in Jaffrey festival is intended to broaden the community that Electric Earth reaches.

“Having a contra dance will bring in a different crowd. People who love classical may come to see Tim Erikson,” he said. “People think of themselves as liking one kind of music and they don’t try something else. We’re trying to break that down. I’m a little bit of an idealist, but I’ll keep trying.”

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