ESSEX — Known for its unique concerts of world-class talent and diversity, Essex Winter Series plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary year with a robust schedule for the winter months. The season-opener on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School in Deep River is a musical tour de force led by Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee.
Lee has carefully curated a program featuring breathtaking music that spans over 600 years. She will be joined by audience favorites William Purvis, Patricia Schuman, Randall Hodgkinson, the Attacca Quartet, as well as emerging young artists.
The concert begins with a celebratory fanfare of Copland, then a high spirited string quartet by Haydn, wonderful cabaret songs and jazz ballads. The first half ends with the ultimate crowd-pleaser, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue arranged for piano four-hands and performed by Ms. Lee and Mr. Hodgkinson.
The second half begins with beautiful Renaissance music for brass, then an aria from the opera Carmen and the finale movement of Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor, both in a passionate gypsy style. The concert will end with a bang with hot jazz performed by Jeff Barnhart, Vince Giordano, Paul Midiri, Joe Midiri, and Jim Lawlor.
The season continues on Feb. 19 with the Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert featuring Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band performing a centennial celebration of recorded New Orleans Jazz. On March 5, it’s Garrison Keillor and “Stories in Mind, Poems by Heart.” The beloved raconteur, author, and entertainer will share his unique brand of wisdom and humor in what is sure to be an unforgettable afternoon.
Chanticleer, an orchestra of voices, returns to the series on April 2 to perform the program “My Secret Heart” which includes a world premiere by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, Cole Porter and Noel Coward standards, and the return of Augusta Read Thomas’ “Love Songs” to the repertoire.
All performances take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. with the Jan. 8 and Feb. 19 concerts at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, and March 5 and April 2 concerts at Old Saybrook High School. Individual tickets are $35 and $5 for full-time students with savings offered for subscriptions to all four performances. Seating is general admission. To purchase tickets or learn more, visit www.essexwinterseries.com or call 860-272-4572.
The 2017 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Guilford Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, and Tower Laboratories. Outreach activities are supported by Community Music School and donors to the Fenton Brown Circle.