Music Before 1800 Welcomes Artistic Director Bill Barclay

Barclay brings wide-ranging experience to the early music institution.

NYC’s longest-running early music series Music Before 1800 has announced its first-ever Artistic Director Bill Barclay. As founder Louise Basbas transitions from executive director to board president, Barclay takes on artistic responsibilities immediately. Basbas states:

“MB1800 begins a new era two years shy of our 50th year. We welcome our first Artistic Director, Bill Barclay. He is an innovative and imaginative producer with amazing experience in the theater. He is a composer who is steeped in early music. Bill will oversee the long-planned upcoming season and make his own imprint beginning a year from now with the concerts for MB1800’s 49th season. We know he will broaden our horizons with his programs, pleasing our traditional audience and luring newcomers to early music.”

Bill Barclay is a composer, stage director, producer, music supervisor, and has been described as a “personable polymath” by the London Times. His seven years as director of music at Shakespeare’s Globe spanned 130 productions, the creation of a lauded Candlelit Concert series in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, international touring and filming, and a new record label. Through his company Concert Theatre Works, Barclay is an innovator in concert-theatre – bringing story to the symphony through groundbreaking uses of puppetry, dance, film, actors, and design. Collaborators include The Silkroad Ensemble, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, and Washington National Cathedral. He has collaborated with a number of historically informed ensembles, including The English Concert, The Sixteen, Fretwork, The Gesualdo 6, and Barokksolistene. Barclay is published in Cambridge and Oxford University Presses on the music of Shakespeare, and lectures widely on the music of the spheres.

He looks forward to his new position, saying:

“My tenure at Shakespeare’s Globe taught me that anyone can instantly understand the unique vitality that historically informed music brings to our lives. In evangelizing the beauty of the repertoire, my approach has been to help tell music’s untold stories while celebrating the amazing musicians who commit themselves to the research and virtuosity required. I feel immensely humbled to pursue this passionate work with Music Before 1800. They were holding this banner high well before period music caught fire in the US, and are leading the charge in NYC presenting the world’s great interpreters of our aural history. I look forward with great anticipation to the many years of fine music making to come!”

Since June, 1976, Louise Basbas has presented nearly 500 concerts featuring established groups and rising stars, and what Early Music America calls “the cream of the early-music world.” The series has presented the New York debuts of many international artists including The Tallis Scholars, Vox Luminis, and Hespèrion XX (now Hespèrion XXI) with Jordi Savall. Louise has maintained the delicate balance of presenting artists from around the world, and of establishing long-term relationships – allowing artists to take creative risks along the way. The widely acclaimed vocal quartet Anonymous 4 was in residence at Corpus Christi Church for seven formative seasons. The group’s Susan Hellauer has described Louise as “like the sun” in the NYC early music solar system. More recently, the series has maintained an ongoing relationship with Juilliard’s Historical Performance program, and with the Boston-based choir Blue Heron. The New Yorker has called MB1800 “the essential series” and “Gotham’s flagship early-music presenter.”

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