So where was everybody?

People (including me) often remark on how much less crowded
BEMF is these days than it used to be. There are several
conventional explanations:

  • There’s more to do, so each event is less
    well-attended.
  • There was a heyday of early music in the 80’s (which I missed) and early
    90’s and the people who were attracted to early music then are
    aging and traveling less and staying out less, and early music
    hasn’t recruited younger people to replace them.
  • The lousy economy is cutting into everyone’s discretionary income.

I’m sure all of these explanations are valid, but I ran into
another one last night. A friend came over with his two dogs to
console me for losing Sunny, and I told him I was surprised at not
having seen him at BEMF this year. He turned out to have been
busy. One of his groups is doing a recording, but the good story
is that he’s now playing shawm in a rock band.

It reminded me of Michel
Godard
, one of the best serpent players in the world. He
plays lots of kinds of music, from Medieval to jazz and the
digeridoo repertoire. He
attended the Historic Brass Society conference in 1995, and said
that it was the first time he’d been asked to play somewhere because of the
instrument he plays, rather than because people liked his music.

So if there are lots of players of early instruments who aren’t
going to BEMF because they’ve found places to play that aren’t
specifically early music-related, that would be a more cheerful
result than everybody getting old and losing their money.