MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-One of the most accomplished vocal chamber groups on the classical music scene today, the Hilliard Ensemble will visit Middlebury College for an evening of music both old and new in a free concert at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, in Mead Chapel. The performance is part of the Charles P. Scott Symposium, which also features a lecture by acclaimed British composer, producer and director Antony Pitts that will take place before the concert at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones House. Both events are free and open to the public.

Pitts is the musical director of the ensemble Tonus Pergrinus. In his lecture, titled “A Mystical Offering: J. S. Bach and Arvo Pärt on the Unanswered Questions,” he will compare the styles of Bach and Pärt. Pitts founded Tonus Peregrinus in 1990, and the ensemble won a Cannes Classical Award in 2004 for the Naxos CD of Arvo Pärt’s “Passio.” Pitts’ own music has been performed across the United States and Europe. He won numerous awards and earned many award nominations in his former role as a producer for BBC Radio, where he worked from 1992 until early this year.

Famous for the deft handling of music both centuries old and freshly written, the Hilliard Ensemble will perform motets by Bach and works by the contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, whose music is among the group’s favorites. The Hilliard most often features four men’s voices, but this performance will also include two women singers and an organist.

Founded in 1974 and named after British miniaturist painter Nicholas Hilliard, the ensemble is renowned for its handling of medieval and renaissance repertoire as well as brand-new works commissioned by modern composers, many hailing from Eastern Europe. The group enjoys particular popularity in Europe where it tours frequently along with regular visits to Japan, Canada and the United States. The Hilliard’s recordings can be found on the ECM, EMI and Virgin labels as well as their own mail-order record label, hilliard LIVE.

In 2002, The Toronto Star described the group this way: “The members of Britain’s Hilliard Ensemble have helped set the standard for small male vocal ensembles, producing some of the most exquisitely blended, beautifully balanced quartet singing to be heard on the concert stage.”

After establishing a reputation for performing and recording early music, the Hilliard Ensemble turned to more contemporary pursuits and began its successful relationship with Pärt. Since then, the group has commissioned and recorded works by numerous other contemporary composers. The Hilliard’s collaborations have included recordings with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and production of the soundtrack for the Canadian film “Lilies.”

The Robert A. Jones House is on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125). Mead Chapel is on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125). The concert is free with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact the Middlebury College Box Office at 802-443-6433 or www.middlebury.edu/arts.

To follow are events calendar listings:

Charles P. Scott Symposium

Middlebury College

Tuesday, April 26

4:30 p.m.

Lecture: “A Mystical Offering: J. S. Bach and Arvo Pärt on the Unanswered Questions,” by British composer, producer and director Antony Pitts


Conference Room, Robert A. Jones House, Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

7:30 p.m.

Concert: Hilliard Ensemble

Free; seating is first-come, first-served. For information, contact the Middlebury College Box

Office at 802-443-6433 or www.middlebury.edu/arts.

Mead Chapel on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125)

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