President Robert Cole’s Remarks to SFEMS Members and Board

Annual Members’ Meeting, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I am sure that most of us here tonight would agree that the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the primary centers of Early Music in America, along with Boston and New York City. And perhaps many of us, myself included, would argue that the Bay Area is in fact, the most vital center of Early Music, surpassing those East Coast rivals I mentioned.

Robert Cole
(Wendy Edelstein photo)

If this is the case, I would also argue that the chief reason for the primacy of this area is the over 40 years of leadership shown by the San Francisco Early Music Society. This organization has supported and made possible the summer workshops, an annual concert series, an affiliate program and in recent years ,the Berkeley Festival. No similar organization with such a wide reach exists in any American community today.

Given the above, when I was asked to serve as president of the organization in 2014, I felt compelled to accept and devote my full efforts to building and sustaining this organization which is so central to the health of the Early Music community here. It was clear to me that in order to continue this important work, SFEMS needed to build a larger and stronger Board, and embark on a serious effort to improve our financial position.

In both of these ways we have had some success. The Board has grown modestly and has been more active and engaged and at the same time has achieved the goal of a solid financial status as of the end of the fiscal year. I will admit that achieving these goals has been for me among the most difficult tasks of my professional life. I would hope that going forward my successor will have at least the same measure of success and that with the support of all of us much more can be achieved.

I cannot imagine why we all should not support SFEMS in any way possible. If we care about the future of this music then we need to join a concerted effort to support the infrastructure that keeps it viable locally, nationally and internationally.

As we approach another iteration of the Berkeley Festival, we need to keep in mind that this event is one of the two most significant Early Music Festivals in the US, along with Boston. The two events make for a major annual American early music festival, one on alternate coasts each year. This combination puts us on the international scene along with other similar Festivals such as Utrecht and others in Europe and the UK.

I ask that we all find a way to coalesce into a strong and united group of early music advocates that will make it clear that this music is important to preserve and perform now and into the future. I plan to be part of that effort and I urge all of you to join in to help in any way you can.

In closing I wish to thank SFEMS Board members who have contributed in so many ways to support the organization. Also, the SFEMS staff, Harvey Malloy, ED, Jessica Steward, Admin and Development, Craig Hanson, our Box Office and operations manager, and Jonathan Harris our erudite newsletter editor. They have brought the organization to a new level of professionalism which bodes well for our future.

Finally, I thank all of you for coming tonight and for your contributions to SFEMS in the recent past, and for some of you, over many years.

My sincere thanks to all!!