Music Before 1800 Announces Season 46

Here we are five months into this pandemic with no clear end in sight, but we have been busy planning for a different, smaller yet festive 46th season, and want to give you some details!

We’ll have four intimate, hour-long concerts: live events with social-distancing, 4 p.m. at Corpus Christi Church on April 25, May 16, June 6, and June 20, 2021. A week after each live concert, we’ll present the virtual version with an added online live post-concert Q and A.

April 25: Diderot String Quartet will launch the season with From Russia with Love: String Quartets for Catherine the Great. You will be introduced to the composer Anton Ferdinand Titz and have the opportunity to enjoy a string quartet by Haydn.

May 16 & June 6: Harpsichordist Aya Hamada’s Portraits et Caractères: Couperin, Rameau, Duphly will be complemented by Peter Sykes’s Byways and Backwaters: German Harpsichord Music Not by J. S. Bach.

June 20: The final event, Plein Jeu, will introduce two virtuosos: Martin Bernstein, recorder, and Justin Taylor, harpsichord, sharing music ranging from Louis Couperin and Jacques Boyvin through François Francœur and Jean-Baptiste Forqueray.

We’ll also have three Sunday afternoon free virtual lectures:

February 14: Louise Basbas and interlocutor Henry LeeLe nuove musiche: Forty-five Years of New Performances of Music Before 1800

March 7: Tina ChanceyMachaut Meets Fairbanks: The Utterly Terrifying Art of Devising Early Music Silent Film Scores

April 11: Susan HellauerJim Crow and Zip Coon: The Musical Invention and Persistence of American Blackface Characters

With an eye to future seasons of MB1800, during late summer 2021, we’ll cross the 1800 barrier with outdoor park concerts of vernacular and diverse American music, masterminded by Susan Hellauer, Jane Alden, and Henry Lee; and in the winter of 2022, we’ll hear Tina Chancey’s Hesperus perform The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Lon Chaney, 1923) with a medieval live music “soundtrack.”

To be sure, the immediate and long-range future will have familiar and new elements but will include both live and virtual components. For MB1800 that means the full spectrum of repertoire, beginning with medieval music. We look forward to engaging wonderful artists whose events were cancelled for the upcoming season: Machaut by the Czech Republic’s Tiburtina, Ockeghem by Boston’s Blue Heron, Christmas music from the Western Hemisphere by Houston’s Ars Lyrica, and Bach and forebears by Belgium’s Vox Luminis.

The board and staff have been hard at work and are committed to the future of the series. The budget for the 46th season is lean and without frills. Earned income from ticket sales will be greatly reduced so your personal contributions as well as foundation, city and state funding are crucial. Your support is our lifeline, enabling us to continue working and to create these events.

Tickets for our live and virtual four-concert season will go on sale in January 2021. In the meantime, save the dates and consider endorsing our work with a coveted donation.

COVID-19 Update

We regret to inform you that the three remaining concerts of the season, scheduled for March 19 (Aya Hamada), April 2 (Peter Sykes), and April 19, 2020 (Juilliard415 and Robert Mealy), have been canceled due to COVID-19. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation. However, the safety and well-being of our audience and artists are our top priorities.

If you have ticket(s) to any of the three concerts, we offer the following options:

1. Donate your ticket(s). Your generous support is crucial to our mission, especially during this unprecedented challenging time. We will send you an acknowledgement for your tax-deductible contribution.

2. Request a refund to your original form of payment.

Please email us at or call us at 212-666-9266 no later than April 30, 2020 with your response. We anticipate beautiful performances by Aya Hamada, Peter Sykes, and Juilliard415 in a new season when we can all once again enjoy public concerts of music before 1800! Thank you and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Music Before 1800 Announces Season 45

We pleased to announce our 2019-20 season, a delectable assortment of concerts with music from the 8th to the 18th centuries, from Sequentia’s diverting and witty Charms, Riddles and Elegies to Peter Sykes’ Byways and Backwaters: German Harpsichord Music Not by Bach! Subscriptions go on sale May 15 and single tickets mid-July.

Sunday afternoon concerts at 4 p.m.
Corpus Christi Church, 529 W. 121st Street, Manhattan

October 6: ACRONYM—Cantica Nova: Discoveries from Uppsala’s Düben Manuscripts
October 27: Cappella Pratensis—Jacob Obrecht’s Missa Maria zart
November 17: Emi Ferguson with RUCKUS—Fly the Coop: Bach Sonatas and Preludes
December 22: Blue Heron—Christmas in 17th-Century Germany: Music by Michael Praetorius, Samuel Scheidt, and Others
January 19: Sequentia—Charms, Riddles and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands, 8th-11th Centuries
February 9: Stile Antico—Breaking the Habit: Music by and for Women in Renaissance Europe
February 23: Academy of Sacred Drama—The Victim of Love: Oratorio by Gianettini
April 19: Juilliard415 with Robert Mealy—The Invention of the Orchestra: A Tale of Two Cities—Corelli’s Rome and Lully’s Paris

Thursday evening concerts at 7 p.m.
The Kosciuszko Foundation, 15 E. 65th Street, Manhattan
A Harpsichord Festival

March 5: Byron Schenkman—Scarlatti and Frescobaldi: Masters of the Italian Harpsichord
March 19: Aya Hamada—Portraits et Caractères: Pieces by d’Agincourt, Couperin, Rameau, Forqueray, and Duphly
April 2: Peter Sykes—Byways and Backwaters: German Harpsichord Music Not by Bach—Works of Mattheson, Krebs, Graupner, Böhm, Marpurg, et al.

Blue Heron Wins 2018 Gramophone Award

Blue Heron has become the first non-European ensemble to win the Gramophone Award in the early music category, marking a milestone in the award’s 41-year history. The prize recognizes Blue Heron’s recording Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, Vol. 5, a piece of music traced as far as 1540, when it was copied for Canterbury Cathedral. Gramophone called it “one of the discoveries of the year.

Blue Heron director Scott Metcalfe remarks: “I’m pleased beyond words that the Gramophone Award may win greater recognition for the Peterhouse repertoire and for Nick Sandon’s essential and brilliant restorations, the fruit of a lifetime’s work.”

Visit The ARTery for further information on the award. Blue Heron performs at Music Before 1800 on February 10.

Vox Luminis & Blue Heron Shortlisted for 2018 Gramophone Awards

Vox Luminis, (at MB1800 on October 28), and Blue Heron (February 10) have been shortlisted for 2018 Gramophone Awards. Vox Luminis is shortlisted for the recording Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, released on Ricercar, and Blue Heron for the fifth volume in its Peterhouse series.

For more information, visit the Gramophone website.

Season 44 Subscriptions & Individual Tickets Now Available

Individual concert tickets are now on sale for all upcoming Season 44 concerts. A selection of subscription packages are also available at the MB1800 website.

Vox Luminis Receives BBC Music Magazine Choral Award

Vox Luminis, who will perform Bach on October 28, was awarded a BBC Music Magazine Choral Award for their exploration of Luther’s hymns and Gospel translations in settings by many of JS Bach’s predecessors. [more info]

Music Before 1800 Announces Season 44

On September 30, Benjamin Bagby kicks things off with an imaginative re-creation of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, called a “double tour de force of scholarly excavation and artistic dynamism” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Season tickets are now available!