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. 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.