Not-for-Profit, Award-Winning Community News and Views for Windham County, Vermont • Since 2006
Voices / Letters from readers

In Stile Moderno’s concert: an exquisite ascent to heaven

I’m not sure how often I or anyone else comes home from a night of music and says, “Wow, that was exquisite.” We might say it was “awesome,” or “amazing,” but “exquisite”? The word seems a bit out of synch with today’s grittier, modern aesthetic.

But during In Stile Moderno’s concert at the Brattleboro Music Center on Jan. 21 (which I learned about in this paper), I not only had to dust off the word and add it back into my active vocabulary, but also recalibrate it to a higher level.

Music can be and do so much. It can move and thrill us at the deepest level. It can be powerful, tender, heartbreaking, wild, exciting, beautiful, and many other things.

The new definition of “exquisite” that this trio of musicians evoked includes all of that, but it adds one more ingredient as well, one that we don’t encounter much these days: a feeling that I can only describe as “ascending to heaven” — or something like that.

Now, I realize that this feeling might not be what everyone is looking for in a musical experience, but I can vouch that an ascent to heaven — by musical means — is worth the trip! I don’t know how much of this quality was due to the 17th-century songs and musical pieces by Monteverdi and his other wildly inventive Italian contemporaries, how much was due to Agnes Coakley Cox’s incredibly expressive and pure voice, how much was due to the fine control that Nathaniel Cox (Agnes’s spouse) had over his cornetto — a precursor of the trumpet that has a sound like mellow gold — and how much was due to the grooving licks of Simon Martyn-Ellis on guitar and theorbo (a massive, lute-like stringed instrument, also played by Nathaniel).

But whatever it was, the sum total of it all could only be described by the loftiest of words.

If this group of musicians comes back to the the Brattleboro area soon and often (which is possible, since Cox grew up here, the son of the local violin maker Douglas Cox), that will be exquisite, too.

Greg Sellei
Wilmington

Like what we do? Help us keep doing it!

We rely on the donations and financial support of our readers to help make The Commons available to all. Please join us today.

What do you think? Leave us a comment

Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.

Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Out of 56, 14 or 27, which is the smallest?
Captcha Image
Powered by Commentics

Comments (0)

No comments yet. Be the first!

Originally published in The Commons issue #444 (Wednesday, January 31, 2018). This story appeared on page 0.

Related stories

More by Greg Sellei