“Gotham’s flagship early music presenter.”
– The New Yorker


Music Before 1800 is the longest running early music concert series in New York City. We have been presenting vocal and instrumental chamber music at Corpus Christi Church for over 45 years, with programs of sacred and secular music ranging from Medieval to early Classical. Offering artists of the highest caliber, we present audience favorites as well as rising stars. Our artists, including New York’s finest ensembles, come from across the United States, Canada and Europe.

Our mission is to present programming by outstanding international, national and local early music groups in an acoustically and aesthetically superb setting.

MB1800 was founded in 1975 by Board President Louise Basbas. We have presented nearly 500 concerts across 49 seasons around New York City with artists from around the world.

About Artistic Director, Bill Barclay.

Board of Directors

Louise Basbas, Founder & President
Bruce Garetz, Vice-president
Gerald McGee, Treasurer
Nancy Hager, Secretary
Jane Alden
Susan Hellauer
Rebecca Littman
Katherine Moore

Advisory Board

George Basbas
Anthony Roth Costanzo
Judith McGuire
Wendy Powers
Nancy Tooney


Bill Barclay, artistic director
Robby Meese, administrative director
Hannah Yates, graphic designer
Stuart Wolferman, Unfinished Side, publicity consultant
Tatiana Daubek, Hudson View Productions, videographer
Robert Anderson, Anderson Sound Recording
Eleanor McGee, development adviser
Barbara Morgan, bookkeeper


Music Before 1800, Inc., is a nonprofit organization. All contributions to the series are fully tax-deductible as provided by law. A copy of the latest annual report filed by Music Before 1800, Inc., with the New York Secretary of State may be obtained by request from Music Before 1800, Inc., 529 West 121st Street, New York, NY 10027 or from the New York Department of State, 162 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12231.

Music Before 1800’s programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and with generous contributions from the Bagby Foundation for the Musical Arts, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Henry and Lucy Moses Fund, Inc, and the Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.


Music Before 1800 relies on a wonderful group of volunteer front-of-house personnel to ensure a successful season. Volunteering with Music Before 1800 is a rewarding opportunity to learn about, experience and become a part of New York City’s longest running early music concert series. Volunteers receive a complimentary seat for the afternoon/evening and will join the ranks of a warm and committed group of people, while supporting our mission of presenting quality programming by some of today’s most skillful and dynamic performers.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please write to our Concert Manager at concertmanager@mb1800.org for more details. Be sure to tell us a little about yourself (including any relevant skills or experience), as well as your availability for the current season if possible. We ask that volunteers donate their time for at least two performances.


“Music Before 1800’s Sunday afternoon concert at Corpus Christi church was a sparkling example of how to present and perform music that’s hundreds of years old as not just a beautiful object but a living thing with a social, as well as musical, history.”

Review: Marian Consort
February 12, 2024
George Grella
New York Classical Review

“The Chevalier,” an intriguing music-theater hybrid, unwraps the still little-known life and work of this 18th-century composer.

Review: The Chevalier
January 22, 2024
New York Times

“Still, for a Music Before 1800 concert, the whole experience was pretty radical.”

Review: Winter Wassail
December 18, 2023
David Wright
New York Classical Review

“Music Before 1800, one of New York’s most consistently rewarding series, is under new leadership.”

Review: TENET Vocal Artists
November 8, 2023
Christopher Corwin
Parterre Box

“Music Before 1800 presented a charming and varied program by the early-music ensemble Le Poème Harmonique.”

Review: Le Poème Harmonique
October 30, 2023
David Wright
New York Classical Review

“As much as the virtuosity of Juilliard415’s playing, the defining aspect of this concert was the fun the players had performing Rameau’s music.”

Review: Juilliard415
October 2 2023
Rick Perdian
New York Classical Review

“Even when Barclay managed to raise our eyebrows, such as his decision to include a non-historical performance ensemble on the series, his logic and worldview seem to make perfect sense.”

Music Before 1800’s Bill Barclay and Historically Informed ‘Experience’
September 15, 2023
Early Music America

“… the long-running and invaluable Music before 1800 series run by Louise Basbas.”

Review: Ensemble Correspondances
December 18, 2018
Parterre Box

“Gotham’s flagship early-music presenter …”

Preview: Juilliard415 & Jonathan Cohen
January 10, 2018
The New Yorker

“Louise Basbas’s lauded series …”

Preview: Blue Heron
September 28, 2017
The New Yorker

“… the treasured series Music Before 1800 …”

Fall Preview: Cappella Pratensis
September 8, 2017
Zachary Woolfe
New York Times

“In one of the most significant concerts of the season, this Baroque ensemble from Cuba stops in New York on its first-ever North American tour.”

Preview: Ars Longa
February 2017
The New Yorker

“The group’s exquisitely balanced, cleanly expressive sound is a thing of beauty, especially in the spacious acoustics of a good-sized church…. Rarely have I seen a concert of early music elicit as rousing an ovation as this one did.”

Review: Cappella Pratensis
November 10, 2015
Jon Sobel

“… Basbas has worked at the forefront of early music, helping it grow by opening her arms to both seasoned performers and the newest talent.”

The Power of Louise
September, 2015
Donald Rosenberg
Early Music America Magazine

“This shining vocal ensemble, joined by the Folger Consort and Arcadia Viols, performs songs and dances from Shakespeare’s plays to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his death, a highlight of the valuable Music Before 1800 series, which this season also presents a who’s who of the early-music scene …”

Fall Preview: Stile Antico
September 9, 2015
Zachary Woolfe
New York Times

“Joined by Bruce Molsky on fiddle, banjo and guitar and appearing under the auspices of the invaluable series Music Before 1800 (which is celebrating its 40th season), Anonymous 4 performs the program at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, where Lincoln delivered a crucial antislavery speech in 1860.”

Spring Preview: Anonymous 4
February 20, 2015
Zachary Woolfe
New York Times

“Aided by the warm clarity of Corpus Christi’s acoustics and the wonderfully round and sleek sound of the Blue Heron singers, the music’s texture came alive with great malleability.”

Review: Blue Heron
February 17, 2015
Corinna da Fonseca Wollheim
New York Times

“Blue Heron now occupies an exalted place in Boston’s crowded firmament of early music ensembles, and with good reason: their program in New York on Sunday showed them to be a group of polished and artistically sensitive musicians.”

Review: Blue Heron
February 16, 2015
Eric C. Simpson
New York Classical Review

“… didactic, intelligent, and beautiful to hear…an effect in sound like that of using a prism to turn a single ray of light into a kaleidoscope of colors.”

Review: Blue Heron
January 27, 2015
George Grella
New York Classical Review

“[Pomerium’s] tight sense of ensemble and translucent blending was magnificent….Even when converging from opposite directions to a unison note, they locked in right away every time, which had the exquisite effect of beaming their sound throughout the acoustically superb Corpus Christi Church.”

Review: Pomerium
October 28, 2013
Sophia Vastek
New York Classical Review

“… a fascinating concert on Sunday afternoon at Corpus Christi Church…. presented by the invaluable series Music Before 1800.”

Review: Ensemble Peregrina
October 7, 2013
Zachary Woolfe
New York Times

“… distinguished, ever-curious …”

Review: Anonymous 4
May 14, 2013
Zachary Woolfe
New York Times

“This year’s early-music season is beginning with something that might be called chaconne fever.”

Review: El Mundo
October 14, 2012
Zachary Woolfe
New York Times


Best Of: Stile Antico
December 28, 2011
Alex Ross
The New Yorker

“… you hear a world of gracefully spun themes that sound as moving on their own as in context.”

Review: Stile Antico
December 19, 2011
Allan Kozinn
New York Times

“The warm acoustics and beautiful interior of the church were ideal for the concert, which included instrumental interludes.”

Review: Anonymous 4
October 25, 2011
Vivien Schweitzer
New York Times

“Mr. Weiss played with a graceful sense of line that transformed these dance pieces into full-fledged concert works.”

Review: Kenneth Weiss
September 26, 2011
Allan Kozinn
New York Times


Contact Information

Music Before 1800
529 West 121st Street
New York, NY 10027

For general inquiries: concertmanager@mb1800.org
Telephone: 212-666-9266

To reach artistic director Bill Barclay: bill@mb1800.org
To reach administrative director Robby Meese: robby@mb1800.org
To reach founder and board president Louise Basbas: louise@mb1800.org

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