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INTERVIEW: Hugh J. Tilney On An Evening Of Baroque Music With The English Concert In America

T.J. Clemente

The English Concert in America' December performance. (Courtesy Photo)

Hugh J. Tilney was all pride when he spoke about the forthcoming The English Concert in America (TECA) show at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Wednesday, April 7. The one-hour performance will commence at 5:30 p.m. Tilney, who sits on the board of both The English Concert in America, an internationally renowned Baroque group based in New York City, and St. Luke's Church Vestry member, was very instrumental in creating this program.

Talking about the event, Tilney said, "The English Concert in America, which is the American arm of the very well-known Baroque orchestra in the U.K. called The English Concert, has a program with the Juilliard School in New York City, to take graduates from that program to give them work with the orchestra and playing as groups. During the pandemic, this became an enormous problem. It has been very difficult on the lives of these young people to get work, so last December I raised the first of these concerts on December 9, at St. Luke's. It did two things; it gave something to the parishioners and the supporters of The English Concert in America to listen to and enjoy, and it gave the performers work that they really appreciated. That is why they were very happy when I suggested they come back. We are planning to do one more concert in 2021, perhaps two more. It gives them an opportunity to play."

When asked about crowd size in the church, Tilney noted, "This time we will be able to have up to 75 people in a live audience. Last time there were only four of us in the church."

Tilney explained that there will be six musicians: Alana Youssefian, violin; Sarah Jane Kenner, violin; Stephen Goist, viola; Oliver Weston, cello; David Dickey, oboe; Adam Cockerham, theorbo. The evening will highlight "original instruments of Baroque music (a period of composition from 1580 to 1750)." He went on to explain that a "theorbo is a member of the lute family, being a 13th -17th century instrument. The program will consist of playing Baroque music on period instruments."

The acoustics of St. Luke's Hugh are optimal, because as Tilney explained, "When the church was built at the end of the 19th century, they built it properly. The players, who are very acutely aware of the acoustics, were all very complimentary about sound in the church. I too know about such things, because I have been involved in music for a long time. I know the acoustics are good."

Tilney's connection to The English Concert goes back in time. He shared, "The present Artistic Director of The English Concert is someone I have known since he was one year old. His family and my family are longtime friends. When he took over, possibly ten years ago as Artistic Director of The English Concert, I was asked to go on their board in New York, and shortly thereafter, I was asked to go on the board of the orchestra in London as well. I originated from that side of the Atlantic, basically from the southeast of England. I used to play the clarinet and in my earlier days, and I sung in choirs, but none of that now."

Finally, I asked Tilney what is giving him the most joy in presenting these concerts at St. Luke's in East Hampton? He replied, "As a vestry member of St. Luke's, I am bringing this wonderful music and performances to an audience that will enjoy this sort of thing. Secondly, it is bringing work to people who otherwise are finding it extraordinary difficult, if not impossible, to find it - that is so enjoyable."

The concert will also be presented virtually.

St. Luke's is located at 18 James Lane in East Hampton. For tickets, or more information, visit stlukeseasthampton.org.

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