If there’s a “legendary” element to Orchestra New England — and there is — then one proof is the 1981 Colonial Concert that was recorded by CPTV and broadcast nationally in 1982.

Another legend is founding maestro James Sinclair, a scholar in Charles Ives music who will be seen in that broadcast when ONE streams it at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, in a ready response to the pandemic’s continuing in-person danger.

The concert will be available free on the website, orchestranewengland.org, and while the Saturday after Thanksgiving is the traditional date of the concert, it will also be available online until Dec. 6.

ONE’s Colonial I (known as “A Concert of Mufick” in deference to how the “s” was printed in the 18th century) began on Dec. 12, 1980, with Sinclair aiming to reinvigorate the presentation of classical favorites by exploring the ways in which this music was first presented in New Haven in the 1780s, at the end of the Colonial Period.

After attracting the attention of a SNET official, Colonial II found a sponsor, was performed in New Haven at the United Church on the Green, as usual, and videotaped on Dec. 10-11, 1981. (The concert also aired four more years on PBS.)

The video is hosted by the ghost of Daniel Read (acted by James Higgins), a music minister at United Church on the Green back in the 1780s, who is somewhat distressed by this new conductor Sinclair, according to a press release. But as the concert progresses, Read eventually gives his approval.

The program: Haydn’s “Symphony No. 53/mvt. 4”; Handel: the favorite “Ombra mai fu” (from Xerxes) & showpiece “Dopo notte” (from Ariodante); Bach’s “Concerto in D Minor for Oboe & Violin” (with O.N.E. concertmaster Davis Brooks and oboist Vicki Bodner); William Billings’ “Chester” (with chorus); Telemann’s “Concerto for 3 Trumpets in D”; Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”; and Handel’s ”Hallelujah” Chorus from Messiah.

Soloists are soprano Judith Malafronte, violinist Brooks, oboist Vicki Bodner (who still performs with O.N.E.), and organist Allen Brown (music minister at United Church on the Green in the early 1980s).

Orchestral concerts in Colonial New Haven were a special event. Most music-making was in homes and taverns, according to ONE. A meeting house on the New Haven Green was the natural (and perhaps only) option for such a presentation. It was a gathering place for all things religious, social, political and musical.

The orchestra has been performing its Colonial Concert every year since 1980; last year (2019) marked the 40th year. The classical programming is new every year and there have been 69 performances to date (some years had more than one).

The director/producer for the 1982 TV broadcast was Theodore Timreck. Sinclair and Mr. Timreck had previously worked together on four docudramas for PBS, including one on the life and work of composer Ives.

Connecticut Media Group