MB1800 Founder Louise Basbas to Step Down

Dear Friends,

I am writing to tell you of my plan to step down as Executive and Artistic Director of Music Before 1800. The concert series is close to fifty years old and is thriving. It has been my life’s project, and now, with the support and wisdom of a generous, thoughtful and attentive board of directors, it is time to find new leadership.

Our not-for-profit corporation has maintained a balanced budget with diligent oversight throughout its long history. As a result of the extraordinary financial support from donors, foundations and government agencies, our financial position remains strong. We acknowledge these donations with enormous gratitude.

Music Before 1800 encompasses a half-century of friends of early music. The critical components of this community are talented and highly skilled artists; discerning and loyal audience members; expert and hard-working staff; and supportive and wise board members.

The story began in 1976, soon after I was appointed director of music and organist at Corpus Christi Church. I had a few spare hours Sunday afternoon in the midst of a busy day of playing masses. The day and time have remained the same, but the scope of our programming has greatly expanded. The very first concert in June 1976 was a Sweelinck program. The wise and supportive pastor, Monsignor Myles Bourke, made the church available for concerts and underwrote the program’s expenses. Music Before 1800 has presented almost 500 concerts of early music, introducing many renowned groups, including Hèsperion XX (now XXI), The Tallis Scholars and Sequentia, to New York City.

Music Before 1800 has evolved from a dynamic local collective to a highly respected international concert series. We present groups and solo performers from across the country and abroad, from California to Cuba to Norway. Featured artists excel in the many particular specialties of music before 1800. Growth and change need to continue, with particular recognition of our commitment to diversity.

I look forward to being part of this evolution. The transition plan has been carefully considered. Although I will step down from administrative duties, I will continue serving on the board and will work with the new leadership in guiding Music Before 1800’s future.


Louise Basbas
Founder & executive director