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Highlights: A 17th-Century Composer in Sound and Sight

  • Dartmouth graduate student Camilla Tassi directs a group of students during rehearsal for a baroque music concert at the Hop Garage performance space on Sunday, February 26, 2017, in Hanover N.H. Tassi cast and taught her fellow students for the performance, which includes photo projections of an Italian concert hall and duets by members of the college's Handel Society. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Dartmouth students rehearse for a baroque music performance, which includes photo projections of an Italian concert hall and duets by members of the college Handel Society at the Hop Garage performance space on Sunday, February 26, 2017, in Hanover N.H. Graduate student Camilla Tassi cast and taught her fellow students for the concert. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • Members of the Dartmouth College Handel Society, Sophie Wohltjen, on left, and Marielle Brady, rehearse for a baroque music concert, organized by graduate student Camilla Tassi, at the Hopkins Center on Sunday, February 26, 2017, in Hanover N.H. Tassi cast and taught her fellow students for the performance. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/2/2017 12:05:24 AM
Modified: 3/2/2017 12:05:32 AM

During her last break from singing and engineering and scholarship, Camilla Tassi was lying on a beach in Florida last summer and thinking ahead to yet another project: how to share the baroque works of 17th-century Italian composer Giacomo Carissimi with more than a recital.

This Saturday at the Hopkins Center in Hanover, Tassi will bring her latest vision to life. In addition to directing fellow singers from Dartmouth College’s Handel Society and Glee Club in performances of several of those works, the Italian-born soprano and graduate student will project onto the walls of the Hop Garage images of Carissimi manuscripts, artworks and poetry translations from the composer’s era, and of the church in Rome where his best-known oratorio, Jepthe, debuted in 1648.

“I had digitized and started transcribing manuscripts of some of his compositions while I was working on a grant in Florence two summers before,” Tassi recalled during a telephone interview this week. “The original idea was to create modern scores and perform them as duets with another student at Notre Dame, but I had to put them on hold.”

Tassi has been directing and producing the music of a wide spectrum of classical composers since her undergraduate days at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned separate bachelor’s degrees in computer science and in music. With a series of grants, she built a presentation around Handel’s La Resurrezione, and a tribute to author/chemist/Holocaust survivor Primo Levi using a chamber performance of Ennio Morricone’s Se Questo ‘e un Uomo.

After her epiphany this past summer, the Florence-born Tassi returned to the manuscripts, transcribing them between her master’s degree work in digital musics — yes, that’s musics plural — and her performances with the Handel Society and the Glee Club, including a Handel Society tour of Eastern Europe over winter break.

“Baroque is not the kind of music students here are exposed to much,” Tassi said of her choice of Carissimi. “I thought this would be a fun opportunity to share it in a different way, not only with the music but to get into the world of this composer.”

Once she’d transcribed three Carissimi duets and his oratorio, which will round out the performance, Tassi reached out to fellow singers, among them Handel Society colleague Rebekah Schweitzer, of Quechee. Schweitzer, a Hanover High School graduate who is working toward a career as a singer, jumped at the offer to sing one of the duets with Handel Society member and fellow soprano Minjee Kim, on which Tassi will accompany them on harpsichord.

“It was a chance to sing early music, which is rare,” Schweitzer wrote during an exchange of emails this week. “Early music requires a lighter, purer tone, and an understanding of when and when not to use vibrato. Singing in this style is much more cerebral.”

Ordinarily, Tassi might have been tempted to sing as well: She performed at a new-music festival in Boston with Dartmouth’s Contemporary Music Lab last weekend, and will sing a Bach duet with the Dartmouth Chamber Music Lab next Thursday in the Hop’s Faulkner Recital Hall. On this project, however, she has been recruiting and rehearsing the other singers, rounding up projection and sound equipment, and working with fellow graduate student Jenny Seong on projection of the original Carissimi manuscripts and of artworks from the period.

“She is the accompanist, the vocal coach and logistics coordinator,” Schweitzer wrote. “She makes it look easy, but it is so challenging to juggle all those responsibilities.”

Tassi also realized she needed to take harpsichord lessons from Dartmouth instructor Gregory Hayes.

“A big part of these pieces is that the harpsichord part is not written out,” said Tassi, who took piano lessons as a child and later learned to play the oboe before changing her focus to voice. “It’s taken time to learn to play, and to write out accompaniments to fit the vocal parts. It’s been a full immersion.”

And it’s a long way from what Tassi thought would be a career in computer science.

“I was all ready to go to work in web development in Chicago, when I realized that what I really love is working with students, putting on these interdisciplinary projects.”

After looking at different master’s programs, Tassi found that Dartmouth’s digital musics program stood out for its flexibility.

“It allows me to take different classes in programming, neuroscience and music,” Tassi said. “And having the Handel Society and the Glee Club here, it’s been such a joy. I love being busy.”

Camilla Tassi presents “Pen e Tormenti,” a multi-media homage to the music and times of 17th-century composer Giacomo Carissimi, on Saturday night at 7, in the Hop Garage space at Dartmouth College in in Hanover. Admission is free.

Best Bets

BarnArts hosts its fifth annual Masquerade Jazz and Funk Winter Music Carnival at the Barnard Town Hall on Saturday night, with five bands setting the rhythm for dancing. The jazz quartet of Sonny, Bill, Pete & Quincy kick off the celebration at 5, and Woodstock Union High School’s JazzFunk Band performs at 5:45 and again at 8. The ArtisTree-O plays swing jazz at 6:15, followed by the funk ensemble ToasT at 7. VT Shakedown fills the hall with Afrobeat and funk from 9 to closing time. For tickets ($10 to $20) and more information, visit or call 802-234-1645.

The Main Street Museum in White River Junction extends the Mardi Gras sensibility into Lent by hosting a Rio Blanco Casino Ballroom Night on Friday from 8 to 1. Lois Canby and the Lonely Teardrops will perform torch songs during an evening of poker, blackjack, roulette and rolls of the dice. Tickets cost $35 dollars in advance and $40 at the door, proceeds from which will support the museum. To learn more, visit the museum’s Facebook page or

The Recollections chorus sings old favorites at the Howe Library in Hanover at noon on Saturday. Before the performance in the library’s Mayer Room, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Aging Resource Center will host the monthly Memory Cafe gathering for people with dementia and their families. at 10:30. To learn more, email recollec​ or call 603-653-3460.

Automatic Rooster plays dance songs and tunes at Tunbridge Town Hall on Saturday night at 7:30, during this month’s session of The Shindigs series. Admission is $10. Find more info at

Pianist Sonny Saul hosts a session of jazz, on the theme of “What is the Big Bang Doing Now?” at his Pleasant Street Bookstore in Woodstock on Sunday afternoon at 4. Joining Saul will be passist Peter Concilio, drummer Pete Michelenie and clarinetist Quincy Saul. Admission is free.

Hopkins Center pianist-in-residence Sally Pinkas tackles works of Bach and Schumann at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover on Tuesday night at 7. To reserve tickets ($17 to $27) and learn more, visit or call 603-646-2422.

Looking Ahead

On the theme of “Protest,” AVA Gallery and Art Center next Thursday night hosts The Mudroom, its monthly session of adult storytelling in the spirit of The Moth Radio Hour. After refreshments at 6:30, the session begins at 7 in the gallery space, with live music from Never Too Late. Advance tickets cost $5 for AVA members and $7.50 for others, and tickets at the door are $10. To reserve seats and learn more, visit or call 603-448-3117.

Theatre/Performance Art

Northern Stage wraps its production of the Neil Simon comedy Last of the Red Hot Lovers this weekend with performances at 2 this afternoon; at 7:30 tonight and Friday night; at 2 on Saturday afternoon; at 7:30 on Saturday night and at 5 on Sunday afternoon. For tickets ($14 to $54) and more information, visit or call 802-296-7000.

Shaker Bridge Theatre continues its production of Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles tonight at 7:30 at Whitney Hall in Enfield. Running through March 12, performances are scheduled for 7:30 each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and for 4 p.m. on Sundays. To reserve tickets ($16 to $32) and learn more, visit or call 603-448-3750.

BarnArts holds two auditions in the Woodstock area over the coming week for its June performance of the Sarah Ruhl comedy Dead Man’s Cell Phone. On Saturday at Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock, auditions will run from 10 a.m. to noon. And next Thursday evening from 5 to 7, auditions are scheduled at Barnard’s Danforth Library. Rehearsals begin in April. To learn more, visit or call 802-234-1645.


Singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky performs at the Flying Goose Brewpub and Grille in New London tonight at 8. Reservations are required. To order tickets ($25) and learn more, visit or call 603-526-6899.

The Moonlighters fill Hartland’s Damon Hall with big-band, jazz, rock, ballroom, disco and polka rhythms on Saturday night. After Jenny Gelfan teaches a swing-dance lesson at 6:30, the band takes the stage at 7:30. Admission costs $12 per person or $22 per couple. To learn more, email or or call 802-436-2069.

Sam and Zack DuPont, of Burlington, perform their blend of folk and Americana in the Upper Gallery of Randolph’s Chandler Center for the Arts on Saturday night at 7:30. To reserve tickets ($12) and learn more, visit or call 802-728-6464.

With Evelyn Zuckerman accompanying them on piano, soprano Junko Watanabe and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Hansen sing works of Brahms, Schumann, Purcell, Faure, Berlioz and Ernest Chausson at Woodstock’s North Universalist Chapel on Sunday afternoon at 2.

Bar and Club Circuit

Guitarist Ted Mortimer plays at the Canoe Club in Hanover tonight starting at 6. Following him to the venue with performances from 6 to 9 over the coming week are pianist William Ogmundson on Friday, singer-guitarist Cindy Geilich on Saturday, Frydaddy frontman Carlos Ocasio on Sunday and pianist Bob Lucier on Tuesday. On Monday night between 5:30 and 8:30, Marko the Magician performs his tableside sleight-of-hand.

Singer-songwriter Charlie Chronopoulos appears at Taverne on the Square in Claremont tonight at 6.

The bluegrass duo White Steer pulls into Windsor Station tonight at 7:30. Next up is the rock trio Sullivan Hanscom & Davis on Friday night at 9:30, then the Gully Boys on Saturday night at 9:30 and pianist Kenny Ebell on Tuesday night at 6.

Singer-songwriter Tad Dries appears in the tavern at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday night at 5.

Royalton singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner performs at the Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville on Friday night at 7, and joins forces with saxophonist Michael Parker at 6 on Saturday night at Big Fatty’s Barbecue in White River Junction.

Tenor saxophonist Bob Stabach and pianist Eugene Uman join the Peter Concilio Jazz Trio at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night at 8.

Toby Moore kicks off the weekend of music at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon with an acoustic set of rock on Friday night starting at 8. And at 9 on Saturday night, the Blues Brothers Revue takes the stage.

The weekend lineup at the Salt hill Pub in Hanover features folk-rock guitarist Mark Aldrich on Friday night at 8, followed on Saturday night at 8 by Alex Smithy and the Mountain Sound.

Alt-rocker Andrew Merzi plays Newport’s Salt hill Pub on Friday night at 9.

Soulfix appears at the Engine Room in White River Junction on Friday night starting at 9.

Singer-songwriter Byron Berwick performs at the Stone Arch Bakery in Lebanon on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Bow Thayer plays his weekly set of Americana at the Skinny Pancake on Wednesday night at 7:30.

Out on a Limb performs a set of newgrass in the tavern of the Lyme Inn next Thursday night at 6.

Open Mics

Jim Yeager hosts an open mic tonight at 7 at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret.

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 on Thursday nights. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

Joe Stallsmith leads a weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Monday nights at 6.

Bradford’s Colatina Exit holds an open mic, Tuesday nights at 8.

Jim Yeager hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, at 8:30 on Wednesday night.

David Corriveau can be reached at and at 603-727-3304.

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