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    Thursday, March 23, 2023

    Niantic musician killed in Sunday morning crash in Madison

    Aymeric Dupre la Tour, of Zuckerman Harpsichord International in Stonington, demonstrates on an Italian Virginal style harpsichord how he would like eighth grader Addie Clark to play the instrument during a presentation about harpsichords April 1, 2016, at the former Carl C. Cutler Middle School in Mystic. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    State police on Monday identified Aymeric Dupré la Tour, 49, of Niantic, as the man who died Sunday morning after a crash with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 95 southbound in Madison.

    Dupré la Tour was a Juilliard-trained harpsichordist, organist and pianist who played with the New London Community Orchestra, Mystic River Chorale, New London Maritime Society and more, and held a love of historical instruments.

    Around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, a tractor-trailer was driving in the right lane of two while Dupré la Tour was driving in the left lane, prior to exit 60, police said. The tractor-trailer slowed and stopped in the right lane due to a road closure ahead, when, for an unknown reason, Dupré la Tour swerved into the right lane and collided with the rear trailer, and then hit the guardrail.

    Dupré la Tour was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital and pronounced dead. The driver of the tractor-trailer didn't report any injuries.

    Police are investigating the accident and ask witnesses to contact Trooper Clark at (860) 399-2100.

    Originally from France, Dupré la Tour trained at the Conservatoire National de Région of Lyon, earned an artist diploma in organ performance and master's degree at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and received his doctorate in musical arts from The Juilliard School, according to Day archives.

    Tributes began pouring in on Facebook Monday, with shocked friends paying tribute to his musical brilliance and offering condolences to his young daughter.

    "I really started playing harpsichord because I wanted to learn about baroque music and historical performance, and it was at first really more of an intellectual curiosity," Dupré la Tour told The Day in 2016, when he performed for students at the former Carl C. Cutler Middle School in Groton. "Then I really came to not only enjoy but be fascinated by the instrument and by its music, by the music that makes this instrument sound beautiful."

    Dupré la Tour had performed at Carnegie Hall. He served as faculty vocal coach at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and was an artist in residence at Zuckermann Harpsichords in Stonington.

    He also was director of music at First Church Congregational in Fairfield and organist at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden.

    Dupré la Tour played on historic instruments, giving the first public performance in 2016 on the North Stonington Historical Society's newly restored A.H. Gale 1857 Square Grand Piano, and helping the Custom House Maritime Museum — operated by the New London Maritime Society — acquire an 1814 square piano.

    He served as artistic director of the historical society and music director at the museum.

    Susan Tamulevich, director of the New London Maritime Society, described Dupré la Tour as a perfectionist and a scholar. She said he came up with the most imaginative programs when the museum started a concert series to go with the Eat in the Street events.

    Tamulevich said he had started going to the open mic nights at the museum and befriended young musicians who weren't classical musicians. She said Maritime Society Board President Christina Corcoran told her that musicians were waiting for Dupré la Tour to show up Sunday night, not yet knowing he died.

    Tamulevich said the single kindest thing he'd done for the museum was helping it acquire the 1814 piano, a long process that culminated in a benefit concert last spring for the Connecticut Early Music Society.

    Dupré la Tour said last April that people ask, "Why would you want to revive these instruments?" because people would throw them away, saying they were a waste and would never stay in tune.

    "But you have to understand that the music that was written by Mozart and early Beethoven, that's the sound that they had in mind," he said, "that you can never get with the big hammers of modern pianos and the big, thick strings."


    Dr. Aymeric Dupré la Tour of Mystic, artistic director of the North Stonington Historical Society, performs the first parlor concert ever at the North Stonington Historical Society on the restored 1857 A.H. Gale square grand piano, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. (Tim Martin/The Day)
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