Summer Music Series
Chamber music montage
Electric Earth Concerts: Performances planned for Greenfield, Jaffrey, Keene, Peterborough
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.
Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem will bring American roots music to the barn at the Grandview Inn in Jaffrey on July 23.
Cellist Elizabeth Anderson will perform as part of "A Summer Serenade" on June 29 in Temple.
Guitarist Oren Fader will perform as part of "A Summer Serenade" on June 29 in Temple.
From a masterpiece by J.S. Bach to an American roots music string band to a concert built entirely around the words and influences of Henry David Thoreau, Electric Earth Concerts is offering a summer series that can best be described as eclectic.
“Fine musicianship crosses all boundaries,” said Artistic Director Jonathan Bagg in a phone interview last week. “We’re more than just traditional classical music. We want to bring in other genres. We’re also trying to bring in the other arts. Building a concert around a poet or a writer, like Thoreau, gives an opportunity for audiences to think differently.”
Even many familiar classical works are being done in a unique way. The summer season opens Saturday with a performance of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” at the First Church in Jaffrey at 7:30 p.m. But this won’t be the traditional version for a single pianist.
“We’re doing it in a transcription for string trio,” said Bagg, who will play the viola in the trio. “The piece was written for keyboard, but it translates well, with each line given to a different instrument. It’s a familiar piece with a huge array of moods, from the most contemplative and somber to the most joyous.”
Violinist Jesse Mills and cellist Raman Ramakrishnan are the other members of the string trio.
The second piece on the program is “King of the Sun” by the American composer Stephen Hartke. Pianist Rieko Aizawa of the New York City- based Horszowski Trio will join the string trio for this work.
“It’s a whimsical but also serious meditation inspired by everything from medieval chants to the paintings of Joan Miro,” Bagg said.
On June 29, the Electric Earth series shifts to a new venue, the Temple Town Hall, for an evening titled “A Summer Serenade,” featuring works for guitar, flute, viola and cello.
“We’ll have a wonderful trio by Paganini,” Bagg said. “He loved the viola. It’s written in the early Romantic style, full of leaps and bounds for the instruments.”
Other pieces include a serenade for flute, viola and cello by Albert Roussel, which Bagg described as “happy-go-lucky but very sophisticated,” and “Histoire du Tango” by the Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola.
Guitarist Oren Fader and cellist Elizabeth Anderson join Bagg, on viola, and Laura Gilbert, who’s also an artistic director for Electric Earth, on flute.
The Horszowski Trio — Jesse Mills, violin; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello; and Rieko Aizawa, piano — will present a program of masterworks on July 10 at Congregation Ahavas Achim in Keene. The concert includes Haydn’s “Gypsy” trio in G major, Joan Tower’s “For Daniel” and Tchaikovsky’s “Trio in A minor, Op. 50.”
“The level of precision of their playing is just amazing,” Bagg said about the trio. “They have such incredible energy. And the Tchaikovsky trio is one of his best pieces. It’s a concert that will come from the heart of the chamber music repertoire.”
The barn at the Grand View Inn in Jaffrey, another new venue for Electric Earth, will be the site of a July 23 concert by Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem, a four-piece American roots music string band.
“We’re hoping for a festive event, where people can bring the kids,” Bagg said. “This band has great musical imagination. I look at them as chamber musicians; that’s one thing we feel strongly about. A classical music audience can also appreciate and enjoy something like this. They’ll hear beautiful ensemble playing and phrasing and vocal harmony.
“Music in Every Sound: Reflections on Thoreau” will be a unique event combining photography, readings and music inspired by the American writer and philosopher.
The program, on Aug. 24 at Bass Hall in Peterborough, will open with a photo-essay by Robert Fay, featuring images from Walden Pond, Cape Cod, the Maine woods and the Monadnock region — “All the familiar Thoreau places,” Bagg said. Actors Pamela White and Warren Hammack will read from Thoreau’s works, accompanied by a soundscape commissioned for the occasion from composer Nicholas Stoia.
The evening will also include a performance of Charles Ives’ “Concord Sonata,” which Bagg said is the composer’s reaction to the concepts of Thoreau and other Transcendentalists of his day.
The program will feature a unique percussion piece, “Talking to Vaseduva,” by Nathan Davis.
“As he was leaving Vermont to move to Brooklyn, [Davis] collected stones from a river where he had loved to sit,” Bagg said. “He created a natural xylophone and wrote this wonderful percussion piece, which he’ll perform using the instrument he built.”
Each of the concerts starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door and may be reserved by calling 593.5245 or emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the summer, Electric Earth will also offer a number of concerts at schools, rehabilitation centers and homes for the disabled. Most of those are for the venues’ residents. But the public is invited to some of them, including one on Friday at 7 p.m. at Plowshare Farm in Greenfield, where Mills, Ramakrishnan and Bagg will play the “Goldberg Variations” piece that is also on Saturday’s program in Jaffrey.
Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or email@example.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.