Calais Concert goes to South AmericaProvided photo
The Alturas Duo, performing South American traditional and classical music, is featured at Sunday’s Calais Concert.
This year’s concert at the venerable Old West Church in Calais will have a South American flavor to it. Concert organizer and performer Deb Flanders will be presenting “Música Folklórica,” celebrating the folk music of South America featuring the Alturas Duo.
“It’s definitely something very different from the usual traditional music of New England we have presented in the past,” said Flanders. “I thought it would be a different approach to emphasizing a meeting of the two cultures, South America and New England.”
For 15 years, on a Sunday in mid August, Flanders has presented a variety of performers whose music comes from American and New England traditions. This year’s concert, at 4 p.m. Sunday, will feature Scott Hill and Carlos Boltes of the Alturas Duo.
The duo was formed, said Flanders, with the idea of playing South American folk and classical music by bringing together the unusual combination of the viola, charango and guitar.
“They create passionate music that moves with ease between Baroque and South American rhythms,” she explained. The name Alturas (Spanish for heights) is derived from the poem “Alturas de Machu Picchu” by Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda. The Calais Concert has become a staple of the summer’s entertainment. It was organized by singer Flanders in honor of her great-aunt Helen Hartness Flanders, one of the pioneers of folk music history in the United States.
Hartness Flanders, a native of Vermont, was an internationally recognized ballad collector and authority on folk music found in New England and in the British Isles. Today, 4,500 of her field recordings are housed at the Flanders Ballad Collection at Middlebury College.
Folklorists and musicians locally, nationally, and internationally frequently consult the collection. Flanders said the collection, which has been copied from original cylinders and tape, is in the process of being digitized at the college. As a result scholars will find it much easier to access individual songs from the collection.
Flanders is a well-known vocalist in Vermont. Her musical background is wide-ranging, singing rock classics with the Burlington-based a cappella group Mixed Company and classical with the Burlington Choral Society. She is currently is a member of Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Vermont and met the Alturas Duo through that group. As a music historian herself, Flanders has been dedicated to performing many of the songs collected by Hartness Flanders.
Flanders will be joined, as she has for several of the annual concerts, by Vermont folk singer-songwriter Pete Sutherland, Vermont Symphony Orchestra cellist John Dunlop, violinists/fiddlers Laura Markowitz and Sofia Hirsch in the portion of the program that will be devoted to traditional New England music.
As a music venue the Old West Church might not be surpassed. The performers do not use amplification as there is no electricity in the building. The program starts at 4 p.m. and ends around 6 p.m. while there is still plenty of light.
The grounds are pure rural Vermont with the church set in the midst of farmland on an unpaved back road. The building, which is little used during the year, has become a favorite wedding venue as people wanting to marry in a special setting have discovered this circa 1830s church.
Old West Church
The 16th annual Calais Concert, “Música Folklórica,” will be presented at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, at the Old West Church in Calais. Admission is $15 at the door: for information, call 802-233-1015, or go online to www.debflanders.net
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