BRATTLEBORO -- Nathaniel Cox hopes to hit all the right notes with his hometown.
The Brattleboro native has spent some time studying music in Switzerland with his British-American girlfriend, Agnes Coakley, and the two recently came back to spend the summer living and working with his father, violinmaker Douglas Cox. Before Coakley, a soprano, jets back to Europe to continue work on a master's degree, the musical duo has planned a series of benefit concerts in the Brattleboro area. The younger Cox, who plays a stringed instrument known as theorbo, came of age in the local arts scene and wants to give back to the community the way he and Coakley did last year with friend Benjamin Katz.
Each of the three concerts will be held in an area home at 7:30 p.m. and benefit local arts organizations -- Friends of Music at Guilford on July 7, New England Youth Theatre on July 13 and the Brattleboro Music Center on July 22. Cox and Coakley also plan to perform at the First Universalist Parish in Chester at 3 p.m. on July 27.
The two met while studying music in 2010 and two years later founded the group In Stile Moderno in Basel, Switzerland, to explore the music of the "new style" that had its origins in late 16th century and spread throughout Europe at the beginning of the 17th. They performed with Katz, a harpsichordist, last summer at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Brattleboro.
Cox told the Reformer he is most excited to play in homes people will open up to him and his girlfriend.
"It's really nice to be able to share this music with so many people and be able to keep it in an intimate setting," he said. "It was originally conceived as house music or chamber music -- certainly not meant for a concert hall."
Admission to the benefit house concerts is by a suggested donation of $25. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Anyone interested should call 802-257-1024 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The program -- titled "Music for a While" -- features solo songs from 17th-century Italy and England, including music by Claudio Monteverdi and Henry Purcell as well as lesser-known composers such as Giulio Caccini, Sigismondo D'India, and brothers Henry and William Lawes.
Coakley, who grew up in Watertown, Mass., said In Stile Moderno ("In the modern style") got its name from the music that came to fruition around 1600, when music style began to move away from complexity and toward simplification. She said she and Cox have been planning this series of local concerts for about four or five months.
"We're very excited. It's really nice to have the opportunity to do the same program multiple times because, very often, especially as a student, you do a concert once and it's over and you think, 'Oh, I wish I could do that again and try something different,'" she said. "We had such an amazing time last year. I couldn't believe how enthusiastic the audience was (at St. Michael's Episcopal Church) and we're just excited to perform for the same people and maybe some new people as well."
In 2008, Coakley earned a bachelor's degree in music from Yale University, where she discovered her love of early music as a member of the choir of Christ Church New Haven and as a cellist in numerous ensembles. After two years of teaching English in Berlin, Germany, she began voice studies with Evelyn Tubb at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, where she received a master's degree in vocal performance in 2013. She is now active as a singer and choral conductor, while completing a separate master's degree in musical pedagogy.
Cox graduated from Brattleboro Union High School in 2004 before attending Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio, where he received degrees in Russian studies and trumpet performance. He played in school bands under Jim Kurty and Steve Rice, studied trumpet with Dan Farina at the Brattleboro Music Center, performed with NEYT and visited Russia with professional clown/NEYT co-founder Stephen Stearns. After graduating from Oberlin, he began cornetto studies with Bruce Dickey at the Schola Cantorum in Basel in 2009, and received graduate degrees in 2012 and 2014. He began playing theorbo in 2011.
"We've realized that the arts don't exist in a vacuum ... the various members of the arts community can support themselves," he said in regards to the benefit house concerts.
Admission to the concert at the First Universalist Parish in Chester is $15. Reservations are not required. For more information on the Chester concert, call Bruce Parks at 802-875-2753 or send an e-mail to bpinvt@comcast. net.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.