I am honored to follow Louise Basbas’s incredible 48 years of leadership. A stalwart supporter of musicians around the world, Louise has proved a ballast amidst economic upheavals and generational change. I wish to thank you, our loyal audience, for your incredible support as we enter our new chapter, and I hope you will join me in thanking Louise, who remains our lodestar and Board President.
Like us, early music is in transition. Historical practices now influence music making across the world, and well into the 20th century – a great testament to the curiosity that our scholar-musicians have inspired in our ears.
We must now evolve by exploring areas that classical music has historically neglected, welcoming new audiences by expanding our canon while deepening our passion for the repertoire we cherish.
The spine of our 49th season is a deep examination of 500 years of French music from the medieval ars nova style to the neglected Black polymath Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Five sensational concerts, including La Poème Harmonique from Normandy, NYC’s Juilliard415 and TENET Vocal Artists will be stitched together by a new essay by The Boston Camerata’s Anne Azéma investigating French influence and its colonial history. Notably, Mali Before 1800 will be our first collaboration with The World Music Institute, featuring kora virtuoso Ballaké Sissoko and South African guitarist Derek Gripper. The kora is the aristocratic instrument of west Africa, where Joseph Bologne’s mother was taken into slavery.
Bologne’s story is brought vividly to life in the NYC debut of my touring play with music, The Chevalier featuring The Harlem Chamber Players and actors from Concert Theatre Works. This special performance will be at the grand United Palace on 175th St. We mirror Bologne’s historic marginalization with a program of Vicente Lusitano, the first published composer of color, by The Marian Consort in their MB1800 debut. Our reach into lesser-known repertoire wraps with a sensational journey from Spain to Iran by Constantinople appearing with Accademia del Piacere.
This year we create a new holiday tradition, Winter Wassail: Christmas Before 1800, featuring Steven Player, Bjarte Eike, and Emi Ferguson, and touring to Performance Santa Fe. This world premier uncovers the roots of our American Christmas tradition by tracing it to Celtic and Scandinavian rituals. We welcome La Morra from Basel in their NYC debut in O Blind World! Meditations on Love, Salvation and Politics – an eternal theme resonating powerfully today.
We have heard your suggestions throughout the year, and unlike most of our peers, we will continue streaming many of our concerts. Accessibility is vital, so we are also initiating a pay-what-you-can model for certain seats in Corpus Christi Church. We believe music is for all, and these sacred explorations must remain available against the Sturm und Drang of inflation and the exorbitant cost of living in NYC. As a non- profit, these gestures entirely rely on your steadfast support. Please see the back page to learn how you can sponsor a live or virtual concert.
Above all, we must strive for a more complete understanding of our shared history. Fortunately, fresh and familiar musical delights await us at every turn. Thank you for supporting our passionate inquiries into both the old and the new.