American Classical Orchestra (Norwalk, CT)

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A woman and man in colonial period dress pose in front of a harpsichord.

American Classical Orchestra Artistic Director Thomas Crawford as Thomas Jefferson and Karina Calabro as Maria Cosway in front of a harpsichord at the “Thomas Jefferson at Monticello” event by the orchestra.  Photo courtesy of American Classical Orchestra

The American Classical Orchestra (ACO) of Norwalk is devoted to preserving and performing the repertoire of 17th- to 19th-century composers, playing the works on original or reproduced period instruments. The musicians use historic performance practice techniques and pass these skills down to future generations through concert performances and educational programs.

In FY 2005, ACO received an NEA Learning in the Arts grant of $45,000 to support its Classical Music for Kids program. The program is composed of two interrelated parts: live public performances intended for a family audience, and a related education program held in school classrooms. Classical Music for Kids has reached more than 85,000 students in Connecticut and New York since the program began in 1999.

Interdisciplinary curriculum materials are developed by ACO’s education department to coincide with the live performances. The ACO’s Artistic Director, Thomas Crawford, and guest artists visit classrooms, and open rehearsals are scheduled at the Norwalk concert hall or in school auditoriums.

The theme of the program in 2005/06 was “Thomas Jefferson’s Music of Monticello—Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Music,” which is based on Jefferson’s Monticello music library.  Concerts included Antonio Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery with the internationally acclaimed Pement Players joining the ACO in November 2005, and “Thomas Jefferson at Monticello” in April 2006, a salon concert that recreates a musical evening as Jefferson himself would have presented it in the Monticello parlor, including pieces by Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli, Thomas Arne, and George F. Handel.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)