Early Music’s Recent Upsurge in NYC

20 Mar 2009 (SEATTLE, WA).  Early music is experiencing a Renaissance in NYC.  Lincoln Center recently celebrated the reopening of newly renovated Alice Tully Hall with a series of concerts.  Prominently featured in this “Opening Nights Festival” were early music concerts: an opening night (Feb. 22, 2009) Sephardic program by Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI and a later performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor by Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Gent.  Allan Kozinn, music critic for The New York Times, commented “When the original Alice Tully Hall was planned in the late 1960s, its acousticians were concerned mainly with how chamber music, recitals and lieder concerts would sound in the space.  Early music played on period instruments, was probably far down the list of priorities, if it was there at all….The prominence given early music in the reopening festivities at Alice Tully Hall is a sign of how much has changed in 40 years.  Now period performance is a growth industry, and the first music heard in the revamped hall on Sunday afternoon was a set of Sephardic pieces performed by Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI, one of the most renowned period-instrument groups.”

Other signs of early music’s increased visibility and importance in New York include:
  • The Juilliard School begins offering a Master’s Degree program in Historical Performance in fall 2009; the program is directed by Baroque violinist Monica Huggett.
  • Bargemusic, the distinguished Brooklyn-based chamber music series, launched a new early music series in January 09 called “There and Then” (to complement their new music series called “Here and Now”).
  • Carnegie Hall now offers two early music series each year, Early Music in Weill Recital Hall and Baroque Unlimited (larger Baroque ensembles, primarily in Zankel Hall).
  • Gotham Early Music Scene (GEMS), founded in 2007 by Gene Murrow, promotes and provides services for dozens of early music concerts in NYC each year.
  • A production of “The Play of Daniel,” a 12th-century music drama, for Concerts at the Cloisters (part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) in December 08 sold out four performances, and NY Times critic Anthony Tommasini stated that the show “could have run for a month and attracted eager audiences.”

Contact:  Maria Coldwell
(206) 720-6270 or 888-SACKBUT
info@earlymusic.org; www.earlymusic.org

About Early Music America
Early Music America serves and strengthens the early music community in North America and raises public awareness of early music.  EMA is your source for information about the early music field.  EMA was founded in 1985 and provides its 3,000 members with publications, advocacy, and technical support.  EMA publishes the quarterly magazine Early Music America.  “Early music” includes western music from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods, performed on period instruments in historically-informed styles.  For more information, contact Early Music America at 206-720-6270 or 888-SACKBUT, or visit our web site at www.earlymusic.org.