BEMF15

Battaglia d’Amor: A Benefit Concert for Tom Zajac

[Tom]

Tom Zajac has been performing and teaching recorder, reeds, brass, and percussion for at least 3 decades to my knowledge. Very few people in this area with any interest in any of those instruments haven't been supported and taught and entertained by him.

Unfortunately, he's been having a recurring medical problem, with several brain surgeries in the past couple of years. Insurance covers most of the medical bills, but of course doesn't provide income for someone who can't work.

It isn't really fair to criticize this performance as if it had been a concert. It was a massive outpouring of support for a well-loved figure in the community on the part of both the musicians and the public of the early music community, and on that level it was completely successful. I understand the concert and the online appeal together raised over $50,000.

On the other hand, it was billed as a Boston Early Music Festival Fringe concert, which sets up certain expectations. The rules are that fringe events can't conflict with official Festival events, and that they should end by 10 minutes to the hour, to give people time to get to the next event. This event started at 6, and I have no idea when it finished, but I left at 7:35 to get to the Jordi Savall concert and there were still 5 groups to play.

There's a review by someone who was able to stay for the whole thing. From the first two thirds that I heard, I agree with this reviewer in singling out the Wayne Hanking ocarina solo and the John Tyson ornamentation of da Rore’s Signor mio caro.

I was less impressed than he was by all the interminable medieval multi-verse ballads in languages the audience didn't know with no attempt to put the story across.

As I said, it's not fair to call this a concert, because of course the organizers didn't want to tell anyone who wanted to help that they couldn't play, or that there was already too much of that repertoire on the concert. I do think it's fair to criticize performers who just started singing in a language the audience didn't know without saying anything at all about what they were singing about.

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BEMF15

Another review of Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria

The Boston Musical Intelligencer reviews the Sunday opera performance.

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BEMF15

Review of Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria

Fuse has published a review of the first BEMF opera performance.

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BEMF15

Looking forward to BEMF 2015

This is the start of the fifth biennial "Blogging from BEMF" event.

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 Savall 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 Rodenkirchen playing medieval flutes. (Thursday 11pm concert.)
  • Musica Pacifica 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 century. 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.

Masterclasses

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 on.

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.

Exhibition

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 exhibition.

This year's List of Exhibitors 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 1628.
  • 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 Spring.
  • Vox Lucens, 4:30pm, Saturday, Goethe Institute.
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Cantabile

News of the week of June 2, 2015

Meeting report

We played:

Schedule

We will not meet next week, June 9, because we're all busy with the Boston Early Music Festival.

After that, we will resume our regular Tuesday meetings.

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Cantabile

News of the week of May 26, 2015

Meeting report

We played lots of Dowland:

Schedule

We will be meeting as usual every Tuesday at 7:45 pm, at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

We will not meet on Tuesday, June 9, because of the Boston Early Music Festival.

Playing opportunity

The Boston Recorder Society loud wind group will have a special meeting this Sunday, May 31 from 1-3 at Marilyn's house in Auburndale. She says she'd be happy to have a couple of extra players if anyone else (who plays early brass or reeds) wants to come. Let me know if you need more information.

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Cantabile

News of the week of May 19, 2015

Meeting report

We played:

Schedule

We will be meeting as usual every Tuesday at 7:45 pm, at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

We will not meet on Tuesday, June 9, because of the Boston Early Music Festival.

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Cantabile

News of the week of May 12, 2015

Meeting report

We played:

Schedule

We will be meeting as usual every Tuesday at 7:45 pm, at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

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Cantabile

News of the week of May 5, 2015

Meeting report

We played:

Schedule

We will be meeting as usual every Tuesday at 7:45 pm, at 233 Broadway, Cambridge.

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Cantabile

News from the Walk for Hunger

Performance report

The weather was a little warm for the walkers, which means it was perfect for us -- the walkers were encouraged to stop and listen for a while instead of having to barrel on to get out of the wind and the rain and cold.

The program was a little bit too long and difficult, but we played most of it four times, and we know it a lot better than we did before.

Pictures

[wfh 2015] [paul]

Schedule

We are back on our usual schedule of dropin meetings every Tuesday at 7:45 pm, at 233 Broadway, Cambridge. Come and tell everybody you know to bring everybody they know.

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