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Music Preview: Aston Magna brings “The Art of the Chalumeau” to Bard‘s Olin Hall | TMI Arts Page

Music Preview: Aston Magna brings “The Art of the Chalumeau” to Bard‘s Olin Hall

Published on May 30th, 2013 | by Kimberly Feltkamp


Different types of chalumeau. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Aston Magna Festival will bring the concert series “The Art of the Chalumeau” to Olin Hall at Bard College on Friday, June 14, at 8 p.m. Founded in 1972, the Aston Magna Festival is the oldest annual summer festival in America that focuses solely on music performed on period instruments. Period instruments are constructed and played in the tradition of the “period” from which they come. In this way a modern audience can hear a piece of music as the composer, and the piece’s first audience, heard it.

The chalumeau is a period instrument most closely related to the modern-day clarinet. It comes from the late Baroque and early Classical era (roughly 1630–1760).  It resembles a recorder and comes in multiple sizes. The chalumeau has a mellow, intimate sound, and some compare it to the sound of speaking or singing.  Overall it is much lower-sounding than most expect, and it has none of the brassy, bold sound that some attribute to the clarinet.

The chalumeau originated in France and then spread to Germany, where it was used mainly as a folk instrument. By 1700 its use had spread all over Europe and it began to appear in all types of music, including classical music. It was eventually overshadowed by the more structurally reliable clarinet, and the chalumeau’s popularity among composers waned into nonexistence.

In Aston Magna’s “The Art of the Chalumeau,” star clarinetist Eric Hoeprich will play the chalumeau in music by Baroque and Classical composers, joined by oboist Stephen Hammer, soprano Kristen Watson, and Aston Magna’s string ensemble. The group will repeat this concert the following day at the Daniel Arts Center at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, MA, at 6 p.m.


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