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Making a debut: (l-r) Carragan and Gilman with their new instruments.

This Old Sound

Capitol Chamber Artists pride themselves on creating a sound flutist Irvin Gilman characterizes as having an ancient quality. Thanks to an award from the New York State Council on the Arts, the ensemble will be able to better accomplish this. A low-interest instrument-purchase loan has allowed Gilman and violinist/violist Mary Lou Saetta to acquire two rare old instruments: a wooden flute and a viola. These instruments, along with a new harpsichord and cello, will make their debut appearance at a recital and concert on Saturday.

The award received by the Capitol Chamber Artists is a revolving loan fund totaling $17,000.

“It’s very difficult to get loans for instruments,” says Mary Gilman, director of the Capitol Chamber Artists. “Instruments are very expensive, especially classical instruments.”

The flute dates back to the early 1900s and is a product of Berlin’s E. Rittershausen. Gilman explains that the flute is tuned to modern pitch and its sound has more of that “ancient quality.” The viola, also a German instrument, was made by Sebastian Kloz in Mittenwald. It dates back to the 1780s. Previously, Saetta had to sell her viola to buy a violin. Now, with both instruments, Saetta’s role in the ensemble will be more flexible.

“It will increase our repertoire,” Gilman says. “It enables us to play music we really couldn’t play before.”

William Carragan’s harpsichord also has been finished in time for the debut event. It was commissioned by Carl Dudash of Connecticut. The instrument has a Central European design, with two manuals and three sets of strings plucked by four rows of jacks with registers that spread out toward the bass. Its decoration, by von Wagner Design, is unique. References to astronomy, the language of flowers, the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and mountain scenes adorn the interior of the harpsichord.

It isn’t just the instruments that are new. The concert will also be Laura Chappel’s first performance with the Capitol Chamber Artists. The cellist from England is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, the Nova Scotia Festival of Music, the Aria Summer Music Festival and the Lake District Festival.

Capitol Chamber Artists will present Immortal Beloved: An Evening with Beethoven and the Baroque on Saturday (March 1) at the First Congregational Church at 405 Quail St. in Albany. A recital is at 7 PM; the concert follows at 8 PM. A Sunday (March 2) performance is scheduled to take place at Community Hall in Benson, Vt., at 3 PM. Tickets are $16 for general admission and $8 for students. For more information, call 458-9231.

—Jaclyn Acker

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