Boston Early Music Festival announces plans for an all-virtual 2021 Festival

Cambridge, MA – The 21st biennial Boston Early Music Festival will be presented exclusively
online, from June 6–13, 2021. The virtual event—titled Music of Solace and Joy—will feature a combination of new broadcasts from BEMF’s operatic video archives, recorded concert
performances from the world’s leading Early Music Artists, an Exhibition, Fringe Series,
Masterclasses, and more. BEMF’s Artistic Leadership team of Artistic Directors Paul O’Dette
and Stephen Stubbs, Opera Director Gilbert Blin, Orchestra Director Robert Mealy, and
Dance Director Melinda Sullivan will work closely with Executive Director Kathleen Fay in the coming weeks and months to plan a full schedule of events for audiences to enjoy in their own homes.

“We have had to make some extremely difficult decisions amid unfolding plans made over the
last several years, and in an atmosphere of widely variant scenarios on the potential future of
the pandemic and possible vaccines,” says BEMF Executive Director Kathleen Fay. “We
identified three options: to cancel or drastically reduce the traditional live Festival; to gamble on proceeding as usual, hoping for safe, highly effective, and rapidly and extensively distributed vaccines; or to prioritize the health and safety of our artists, staff, and fans, mounting for the first time and in this unique, unprecedented year, an equally unique and unprecedented virtual Boston Early Music Festival and Exhibition. With trepidation, we have chosen the third option.”

The virtual 2021 Festival replaces previously announced plans for a new production of the
GRAMMY Award–winning BEMF Chamber Opera Series featuring Telemann’s Pimpinone
and Hasse’s La Finta Tedesca, as well as earlier plans for a fully staged production of
Desmarest’s Circé. Both productions will be rescheduled in the future.

The move to a virtual presentation of the 2021 Festival follows BEMF’s move to online
broadcasts during the 2020–2021 Season. During the fall of 2020, BEMF presented four
streaming performances: exclusive concert videos from beloved ensembles Nevermind and
The Tallis Scholars, and a Thanksgiving weekend event from the GRAMMY Award–winning
BEMF Chamber Opera Series, featuring broadcasts of two chamber opera productions
inspired by the Orpheus legend. All four broadcasts were presented free of charge for a limited time on BEMF’s YouTube channel ( attracting thousands of viewers from around the world. Plans are underway to present three more virtual concerts in the months leading up to the June 2021 Festival.

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