Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

NEW LONDON — The Connecticut Early Music Society celebrates its 40th anniversary season this month with the annual Connecticut Early Music Festival, a return to the live stage and a series of six events — featuring more than 60 musicians — to be presented from Niantic to New London and from Noank to Westerly.

With concerts ranging from J.S. Bach to Purcell and culminating with works by Schubert and Mozart, the five concerts and one recorder workshop will be held from June 10-19 at various locations around the two-state region. 

The festival kicks off Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Noank Baptist Church with an all-Bach program and continues on Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. program at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Niantic featuring “The Goldberg Variations.” The concert will feature harpsichordist Peter Sykes performing one of the most technically demanding works written for the keyboard.

On Sunday, the festival moves to the George Kent Performance Hall in Westerly for a 5 p.m. concert called “A Restoration Macbeth.” The Restoration Era (1664) program will feature actors, singers and dancers performing Sir William Davenant’s adaptation of “the Scottish play,” with music by Henry Purcell, Matthew Locke and John Eccles. It is being performed in collaboration with the Henry Purcell Society of Boston and Seven Times Salt, specialists in 17th-century music.

The next concert, “Schubertiade,” will take place on Friday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Red Barn at Mitchell College in New London. A re-creation of an evening of music in Schubert’s home, the program features Schubert’s Sonatina in D for violin and fortepiano, his Arpeggione sonata, selected Moments Musicaux for fortepiano, and Beethoven’s song cycle An Die Ferne Geliebte.

On Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to noon, a recorder workshop with Emily O’Brien will take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Niantic. The recorder has been the entertainment of Henry VIII, the musical voice of the Divine for J.S. Bach, and the vehicle for virtuosic contemporary compositions. The demonstration will feature a cross-section of many types and sizes of recorders, a discussion about its history, repertoire and place in the modern world.

The festival will come to a close on Sunday, June 19 with a 7:30 p.m. “All Mozart” program at Evans Hall at Connecticut College featuring the Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, Requiem Mass in D Minor and the voices of the Connecticut Choral Artists, Concora.

Artistic Director Ian Watson has planned an eclectic concert program, according to festival organizers.

Connecticut Early Music Festival is renowned for performances by world-class musicians playing instruments of the period, retaining the vibrancy and excitement the composers intended.

The Connecticut Early Music Society, founded in 1982, promotes the knowledge and appreciation of early music and presents concerts, lectures and festivals that feature Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and early Classical music performed in historically appropriate style.

Tickets for the Connecticut Early Music Festival are $40 each or $165 for all five concerts. Student tickets are $15 or $60 for five concerts. The Recorder Workshop is $20, free for children under 14. To purchase tickets, visit or call 860-333-8504.

— Nancy Burns-Fusaro

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