Post Date: 03/08/2022

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REIMAGINING, REINVENTING, REDEFINING EARLY MUSIC:

Berkeley Festival & Exhibition of early music (BFX) returns in June 2022 for eight days of the best in historically-informed performance June 5–12, 2022.

The San Francisco Early Music Society presents the 17th biennial Festival—the first since 2018

One of the nation’s leading organizations for the advancement of historically informed performance, the San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) has announced its 17th biennial Berkeley Festival and Exhibition (BFX), an eight-day event highlighting all the best that the early music world has to offer.

Founded in 1990 and produced by SFEMS, the Festival has become one of the world’s largest and most important early music conclaves, deemed “a remarkable institution on the American musical scene” by The New York Times. After the acute challenges of the pandemic, this year’s Festival will serve as a testament to the enduring resonance of eight centuries of music, as well as the resilience of the global early music community.

Whether online or in person, sample the great wealth and power of our musical heritage through 17 main stage concerts, from works written in the Middle Ages all the way through the mid-19th century. Enjoy passionate and powerful performances from the leading exponents of early music, ranging from world-class ensembles based in the Bay Area to national and international touring ensembles. This year, highlights include the Festival debuts of several artists and groups, including the Sollazzo Ensemble in their American debut, as well as the return of BFX favorites Vox Luminis and Rachel Podger. We also welcome Chanticleer—which began life as a SFEMS affiliate—back to the Festival stage after more than a decade and a half.

For the first time, the Festival will expand into San Francisco, bringing two days of performances to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, in addition to eight music-filled days in Berkeley. We will also be providing digital concert content—another first for the Festival.

Between Sunday, June 5, and the following Sunday, June 12, BFX will feature 17 main stage artists, including such luminaries as Chanticleer, Vox Luminis, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Rachel Podger, and many more, as well as the rising stars of today (Solazzo Ensemble) and tomorrow (Early Music America’s Emerging Artists Showcase). In addition to the main stage events, BFX also will include the Fringe, a collection of self-produced concerts by local performers, as well as the Exhibition & Marketplace, which is free, open to the public, and which features the work of instrument makers, publishers, retailers, performing and service organizations, and all others who provide materials, information, and support for the early music community.

SUNDAY, JUNE 5

For our opening concert, we welcome the Basel-based Sollazzo Ensemble in their long-awaited American and Festival debut. Around 1320, two French treatises revolutionized the music world: Ars Novae Musicae by Jean de Muris, and the collection Ars Nova, attributed to Philippe de Vitry. From these writings sprung a new chapter of Western music: rich and ornate melodies, dense polyphony and novel rhythmic patterns are woven together to form a new expressive tapestry, particularly in sacred music.

Our opening day festivities continue with a trio of Bach cantatas performed by local early music luminaries the Cantata Collective, joined by the luminous soprano Sherezade Panthaki—a Bay Area favorite frequently featured with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale—as well as the dignified baritone Paul Max Tipton.

MONDAY, JUNE 6

We welcome soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and fortepianist Nicholas Mathew in their Festival debut, in a recital exploring female figures on the boundaries of society, from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Mignon,” as seen through the eyes of Robert Schumann; to Franz Schubert’s monumental “Viola” (Blumenballade; D. 786) and “Vergissmeinnicht” (“Forget-me-not,” D. 792), which explore female sexuality and desire in utterly contrasting ways.

TUESDAY, JUNE 7

Tuesday sees another Festival debut, this time the duo of cellist Kieran Campbell and fortepianist Sezi Seskir, exploring the link between C.P.E. Bach’s embrace of the empfindsamer Stil (“sensitive style”) and how it influenced Beethoven’s dramatic extravagance.

Also on Tuesday, in the second and final concert of their American and Festival debut, the Sollazzo Ensemble explores the intellectual ferment that was 14th-century Florence, the epicenter of a cultural blossoming that has shaped Italian culture until the present day.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8

Teutonic Titans brings together beloved Bay Area favorites Cynthia Keiko Black (violin), Elizabeth Blumenstock (violin), Corey Jamason (harpsichord), and Elisabeth Reed (viola da gamba) for a dynamic program of deeply expressive chamber music from 17th-century Germany and Austria.

Festival favorite Rachel Podger returns with a selection of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin, a foundation of the Baroque repertoire.

THURSDAY, JUNE 9

Renowned keyboardists Annette Richards and David Yearsley take the listener through the travels of one of the first great music historians, Charles Burney, who met many of the most famous personages of his time and who wrote the four-volume A General History of Music, the first work of its kind in the English language and still an invaluable resource about the tastes and interests of late-eighteenth-century audiences.

Internationally-renowned Festival favorite Vox Luminis returns with Dietrich Buxtehude’s remarkable meditation on the body of the crucified Christ. A work of deep profundity, the seven-cantata Membra Jesu nostri employs relatively limited vocal and instrumental forces—for the most part, five voice parts, two violins and basso continuo —to create an atmosphere of dramatic exultation.

FRIDAY, JUNE 10
BFX and Early Music America (EMA) present the Emerging Artists Showcase, which will present several competitively-chosen ensembles that reflect the future of historically informed performance.

In “Lisette—A Song’s Journey From Haiti and Back,” baritone and musicologist Jean Bernard Cerin explores the tale— across centuries and continents—of “Lisette quitté la plaine,” a enduringly popular folk tune from Cerin’s native Haiti. This program will feature a showing of “Lisette,” a feature-length documentary by Cerin and Brandi Berry, as well as performances from Cerin, who will be joined by Bay Area-based soprano Michele Kennedy, as well as pianist and musicologist Nicholas Mathew.

Founded in 1978 as an affiliate of the San Francisco Early Music Society, Grammy-award-winning men’s vocal group Chanticleer make their triumphant return to the Festival stage after a decade-and-a-half absence, in a program that includes music by Guillaume Du Fay, Johannes Ockeghem, Antoine Busnois, and Cristóbal Morales.

SATURDAY, JUNE 11

Organist Matthew Dirst performs music from an era when leading composers largely ignored the organ. Includes masterworks like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Adagio and Allegro in F Minor” (KV 594), a trio sonata by Johann Ludwig Krebs, concertos by John Stanley, who succeeded Handel as organ soloist for the Covent Garden oratorios, and Christian Friederich Rüppe’s sole surviving keyboard concerto.

In a unique one-woman opera featuring singer and actress Sarah Chalfy, from New York-based ensemble ARTEK (Gwendolyn Toth, director), Chalfy delves into the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, internationally-renowned painter and modern feminist icon.

Fire & Grace & Ash (Edwin Huizinga, violin; William Coulter, guitar; Ashley Broder, mandolin) join forces with mezzo- soprano Kara Dugan in a compelling musical journey, taking the music of Johann Sebastian Bach as the starting point for a dynamic fusion of Baroque and folk, spanning the centuries from Vivaldi to the “father of bluegrass,” Bill Monroe!

SUNDAY, JUNE 12

Lawes was the most innovative of the post-Elizabethan composers. The “Setts” for six viols are a cornerstone of the repertoire, combining complex counterpoint with daring harmonic invention and an idiosyncratic melodic sense.

The Barefoot All-Stars have been bringing viol consort music to the Bay Area for nearly a decade. Formed as an occasional ad hoc group of viol players for the popular Barefoot Chamber Concerts series, the All-Stars have become a local institution.

Our Festival finale features Vox Luminis, performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s iconic Magnificat, as well as a setting of the same text by Bach’s venerable predecessor at St. Thomas’s Church in Leipzig, Johann Kuhnau. Enjoy these two sumptuous and exuberant works, which demonstrate the high level of instrumental and vocal playing available to Kuhnau and Bach over their seven decades as cantors of St. Thomas. This exultant Christmas in June will leave listeners eagerly awaiting the return of the Festival in 2024.

***

ABOUT THE SAN FRANCISCO EARLY MUSIC SOCIETY

Founded in 1975, SFEMS is one of the nation’s leading organizations for the advancement of historically informed performance of early music. Through its concert series, publications, outreach activities, affiliate support and educational programs SFEMS encourages the development of amateurs, supports professionals, and increases public involvement and participation in early music. SFEMS is the presenter of the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition of early music.

Among the hundreds of ensembles and solo artists SFEMS has supported over four-plus decades are many whose national or regional debuts occurred under its auspices: Anonymous 4, Benjamin Bagby, Frans Brüggen, Concerto Palatino, Fretwork, Laurette Goldberg, Hilliard Ensemble, John Holloway, Emma Kirkby & Anthony Rooley, Wieland Kuijken, Gustav Leonhardt, PAN, Joshua Rifkin, Jordi Savall, Max van Egmond and Vox Luminis, to name a few.

FACT SHEET Sollazzo Ensemble (American and Festival debut)

Carine Tinney, Anne-Kathryn Olsen, sopranos; Jonatan Alvarado, Lior Leibovici, tenors; Natalie Carducci, vielle; Christoph Sommer, lute; Roger Helou, organetto; Anna Danilevskaia, vielle and director

PROGRAM:

Cantano gli Angeli—Sacred Medieval Music

WHEN & WHERE:

Sunday, June 5, 4 PM

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

WHO:

Cantata Collective

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano; Paul Max Tipton, bass-baritone; Marc Schachman, oboe; Kati Kyme and Lisa Weiss, violins; Anthony Martin, viola; William Skeen, cello; Kristin Zoernig, bass

PROGRAM:

Bach Cantatas (BWV 199; BWV 82; BWV 49)

WHEN & WHERE:

Sunday, June 5, 7 PM

First Church Berkeley UCC (First Congregational), 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

WHO:

Lucy Fitz Gibbon (soprano) & Nicholas Mathew (fortepiano) (Festival debut)

PROGRAM:

Dark Dreams—Lieder of Franz Schubert, Clara Schumann, & Robert Schumann

WHEN & WHERE:

Monday, June 6, 7 PM

Hertz Hall (101 Cross-Sproul Path), Berkeley

WHO:

Keiran Campbell (cello) & Sezi Seskir (fortepiano) (Festival debut)

PROGRAM:

Beethoven and C.P.E. Bach

WHEN & WHERE:

Tuesday, June 7, 12 PM

Hertz Hall (101 Cross-Sproul Path), Berkeley

WHO:

Sollazzo Ensemble

PROGRAM:

Firenze 1350

WHEN & WHERE:

Tuesday, June 7, 7 PM

First Church Berkeley UCC (First Congregational), 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

WHO:

Black, Blumenstock, Jamason, & Reed

Cynthia Keiko Black and Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin; Corey Jamason, harpsichord; Elisabeth Reed, viola da gamba

PROGRAM:

Teutonic Titans

WHEN & WHERE:

Wednesday, June 8, 4 PM

Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall, The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (50 Oak St.)

WHO:

Rachel Podger, violin

PROGRAM:

Bach Sonatas and Partitas

WHEN & WHERE:

Wednesday, June 8, 7 PM

First Church Berkeley UCC (First Congregational), 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

WHO:

Annette Richards & David Yeardsley (organ, harpsichord,& fortepiano) (Festival debut)

PROGRAM:

A Musical Tour Recollected in Company—Tracing Burney

WHEN & WHERE:

Thursday, June 9, 12 PM

Hertz Hall (101 Cross-Sproul Path), Berkeley

WHO:

Vox Luminis

PROGRAM:

Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu nostri

WHEN & WHERE:

Thursday, June 9, 7 PM

First Church Berkeley UCC (First Congregational), 2345 Channing Way

WHO:

Early Music America

PROGRAM:

Emerging Artists Showcase

WHEN & WHERE:

Friday, June 10, 12 PM

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (2300 Bancroft Way), Berkeley

WHO:

Jean Bernard Cerin, baritone; Michele Kennedy, soprano; & Nicholas Mathew, piano (Festival debut)

PROGRAM:

Lisette—A Song’s Journey From Haiti and Back

WHEN & WHERE:

Friday, June 10, 3 PM

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (2121 Allston Way, Berkeley)

WHO:

Chanticleer

PROGRAM:

No Mean Reward—Chanticleer and the Golden Fleece

WHEN & WHERE:

Friday, June 10, 8 PM

First Church Berkeley UCC (First Congregational), 2345 Channing Way

WHO:

Matthew Dirst, organ

PROGRAM:

Music from the Organ’s Nadir—Between Bach and Mendelssohn

WHEN & WHERE:

Saturday, June 11, 12 PM

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

WHO:

ARTEK

Sarah Chalfy, singer & actress; Gwendolyn Toth, keyboards and director

PROGRAM:

Artemisia: Light and Shadow

WHEN & WHERE:

Saturday, June 11, 8 PM

First Church Berkeley UCC (First Congregational), 2345 Channing Way

WHO:

Fire & Grace & Ash, with Kara Dugan, mezzo-soprano (Festival debut) Edwin Huizinga, violin; William Coulter, guitar; Ashley Broder, mandolin

PROGRAM:

Partita Americana

WHEN & WHERE:

Saturday, June 11, 10 PM

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

WHO:

Barefoot All-Stars
Marie Dalby Szuts, Peter Hallifax, Julie Jeffrey, David Morris, Farley Pearce, Elisabeth Reed, Lynn Tetenbaum; viols

PROGRAM:

Lawes As You Like It—The Six-Part Consort Setts

WHEN & WHERE:

Sunday, June 12, 1 PM

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (2121 Allston Way, Berkeley)

WHO:

Vox Luminis

PROGRAM:

J.S. Bach & Kuhnau Magnificats

WHEN & WHERE:

Sunday, June 12, 4 PM

First Church Berkeley UCC (First Congregational), 2345 Channing Way

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