Looking forward to BEMF 2015

This is the start of the fifth biennial “Blogging from BEMF”

As in previous years, the actual blogging during the week will
be erratic. Blogging isn’t really compatible with going to
concerts at all hours of the day and night, and I really couldn’t
report on what’s happening if I didn’t do that.

Also, I have several comp tickets in return for writing up
events for the American
Recorder Magazine
. So I won’t post in great detail about
those events at least until after the magazine has appeared.

But as usual, I will try to point to any interesting coverage,
and follow the exhibition and some of the fringe events better
than the mainstream press does.

Festival Concerts

In addition to their usual paucity of reed and brass playing,
this year there’s very little renaissance music at all in the main
concerts. So I have:

  • Jordi
    doing music from Mexico and South America, in addition to Spanish
    Renaissance composers Diego Ortiz and Pedro Guerrero. (Monday
    evening concert.)
  • Monteverdi’s
    Vespers of 1610
    , which my college music history courses
    considered as the beginning of the Baroque, but a lot of the
    solo playing is still very like what they did in the
    renaissance. (Thursday evening concert.)
  • Norbert
    playing medieval flutes. (Thursday 11pm concert.)
  • Musica
    on the grounds that I often like hearing
    what professional concert musicians do with dance music. (Or
    if not, I like figuring out why not and criticizing it.) (Friday
    11pm concert.)
  • Orfeo.
    This is the one of the three operas that has the wind band, so
    it’s the one I got. (Saturday evening opera)
  • Inventions of
    Delight: Dance music from the courts of the early 17th
    . See above; also this concert will include the wind
    ensemble that’s playing the Vespers and Orfeo. Also, the
    Saturday 11pm concert is very consistently enjoyable and high
    4 energy. These are the people who’ve been playing together all
    week in the opera orchestra, and it’s almost over, and they get
    to do what they have fun with. (Saturday 11pm concert.)
  • Michael
    Form and Friends
    . The last few years, they’ve gotten a good
    recorder soloist or group to do the Sunday afternoon concert,
    and to teach a masterclass on Saturday. So this is where to go
    to hobnob with all the other recorder players.


You should check out the Masterclass
for any instrument you’re particularly interested in. Even if the
eminent performer who teaches it doesn’t turn out to have anything
interesting to say (rare in my experience), you’ll get to see some
of the up-and-coming young players and what they’re working

I’ll be going to the Saturday 11am recorder masterclass with
Michael Form. If schedule permits, I’d like to get to the lute
song one on Saturday at 4:30 with Ellen Hargis, Paul Odette and Stephen Stubbs. They
do it every festival, and I’ve always enjoyed it when I’ve been
able to go.


Long-time readers of this blog will of course not be under the
common misapprehension that BEMF is about holding concerts by major
recording artists and selling their CD’s.

Like other long-time institutions of the early music
movement, BEMF is built on the collaboration between professional
performers, instrument makers, musicologists, and the amateur
performers who are the most enthusiastic supporters of (and providers
of income stream to) the other pillars of the movement.

And the best place at BEMF to appreciate this is to go to the

This year’s List of
looks unusually interesting, with Adriana Breukink, an
innovative recorder maker, Leslie Ross, who makes
bassoons and dulcians, and Turners’ Quay who do
clarinets and cornetti.

Fringe Concerts

Here are some of the fringe concerts I want to call attention
to. Please note that failing to mention someone here doesn’t
mean I don’t think it will be a good concert. I’m mainly
mentioning the ones I mention either because they’re doing
Renaissance music or because I know them personally.

  • Friends of Tom Zajac, 6pm, Monday, First Lutheran Church.
    Tom is a very well liked player and coach of recorders, sackbut,
    bagpipes, percussion, and probably other things. He has been
    having recurring medical problems. Insurance takes care of the
    medical bills, but not the lost income when he can’t work. So a
    bunch of his friends, also very fine players, have organized a
    benefit concert.
  • Renaissonics, Noon, Tuesday, Brown Hall, New England
    Conservatory. Some of the cornerstones of Renaissance music
    were improvisation and dance music, and Renaissonics does this
    better than most currently active groups.
  • Long and Away, noon, Wednesday, Hunnewell Chapel at
    Arlington Street Church. Songs from the Spanish Netherlands
    written between 1568 and 1648.
  • The Duke Vespers Ensemble et al., 1:30pm, Wednesday, Church
    of the Covenant. Seventeenth century Roman
    Church music on a variety of instruments including brass.
  • Judith Conrad on triple-fretted clavichord, 2pm, Wednesday,
    Paulist Center Library. Music of Samuel Scheidt published in
  • Jean Maillard Singers, 3pm, Thursday, Beacon Hill Friends
    House. Music of Jean Maillard (c. 1515 – after 1570).
  • Recorder Relay, 9:15am Friday, Church of Saint John the
    Evangelist. I’m particularly looking forward to the last group,
    scheduled for 11:20,
    which is several of the local professional recorder players
    playing Renaissance music on matched Renaissance recorders.
  • Convivium Musicum, Saturday, noon, First Lutheran Church.
    Their Sweelinck concert drew rave reviews when they sang it last
  • Vox Lucens, 4:30pm, Saturday, Goethe Institute.

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