Great Barrington — If you love early music, then Boston is one of your favorite destinations. That city hosts more world-class early music artists and ensembles than you’re likely to encounter anywhere outside of Great Barrington, which, for the last 45 summers, has been home base for the Aston Magna Music Festival, America’s oldest annual summer festival devoted to music performed on period instruments. But if you love early music and live anywhere near the Berkshires, you already know about Aston Magna. You already know who gave the first American performances of the complete Bach Brandenburg Concertos on original instruments.
Aston Magna’s 2018 repertoire includes many familiar names: Telemann, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven and Couperin as well as several lesser-known composers: Leclair, Stradella, Caldara, Marais, Ste. Colombe, and — if you can believe it — a contemporary composer, Alex Burtzos (“Hourglass Equation”).
Aston Magna’s 2018 season runs from June 14 through July 21, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Most of their Great Barrington performances will occur at the group’s ancestral home, the beautifully restored Saint James Place. But take a look at the group’s venues page, because they’ll be appearing at a number of other venues, from Waltham, Massachusetts, to Hudson, New York.
If you are one of those persnickety early-music aficionados who accept nothing less than perfection, then Aston Magna is your favorite band, because these musician-scholars, led by violinist and artistic director Daniel Stepner, are a great deal more persnickety than you’ll ever be. As Bruno Mars once said, “Don’t believe me? Just watch!”