In Stile Moderno mixes folk and early music in Brattleboro performance

BELLOWS FALLS — Boston-based early music ensemble In Stile Moderno returns to Brattleboro on Friday, May 24, at 8 p.m., for the final concert of its 2018-2019 season, with “La Vesuviana: Tracing the Sources of Neapolitan Folk Music,” a concert that blends the rhythms of Italian folk music with 17th-century works.

Inspired by the connections between the living tradition of Southern Italian folk music and early music from the same region, the ensemble's founders, Brattleboro native Nathaniel Cox (cornetto and theorbo) and Agnes Coakley Cox (soprano) invited guitarist Simon Martyn-Ellis, multi-instrumentalist Dan Meyers, and folk percussionist and singer Fabio Pirozzolo to co-create a program that blends both genres.

Traditional tarantellas are presented together with little-known works by 17th-century Neapolitan composers Andrea Falconieri, Girolamo Montesardo, and Simone Coya. Driven by the rhythms of tambourine, castanets, and baroque guitar, the concert will also feature the zampogna (southern Italian bagpipes), theorbo (long-necked bass lute), cornetto, and recorders.

From traditional songs used to dance away the poison of a tarantula's bite to a multi-movement cantata describing the madness of love, the musical works will be “varied, entertaining, and moving,” according to a news release.

The seed for the concert was planted in 2017 when Cox, Martyn-Ellis, Meyers, and Pirozzolo performed together in the Italian-themed Christmas Revels in Cambridge, Mass., uniting early music works with traditional pieces from around the Mediterranean.

“Hearing the chemistry of the Revels band and the amazing musicianship of these guys, I knew we had to bring them onboard for an In Stile Moderno concert,” says Coakley Cox. “There's so much crossover between early music and folk music that I hope fans of each genre will discover something new to love.”

In Stile Moderno was founded in 2012 and is dedicated to making rarely-heard works of the 17th century accessible and relevant to modern audiences. 2018-2019 marks the group's first season in Cambridge and Brattleboro.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates