SFEMS Affiliates Help Define Bay Area Early Music Offerings

The Albany Consort

The Albany Consort

A look at this week’s Calendar of Early Music shows the central role SFEMS Affiliates play in the Bay Area’s early music scene. The Affiliate Program offers assistance to local and regional organizations that share the Society’s commitment to music for educational purposes, artistic excellence, a historically informed approach, and operation on a not-for-profit basis. In existence since 1980, the program has helped numerous Bay Area early music organizations to succeed in their various missions. Many of our past and present affiliate organizations are small and community-based, but others, like Chanticleer, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Magnificat, and MusicSources, have gone on to greater visibility in the Bay Area and beyond. SFEMS currently has 34 Affiliates, ranging from grass-roots recreational and educational groups to professional chamber ensembles to larger orchestras, concert presenters, even an opera company. Here’s what a few of them are doing this coming week.

The Albany Consort, a highly active group of flexible size, will be kicking off Halloween with three performances on the Peninsula and in the East Bay next weekend. Pulling out all the stops this year with a “Bad, Sad and Mad concert,” they will perform art music’s first tone cluster (Rebel’s Chaos, which includes all the notes of then scale sounded together); exquisite violin music inspired by the devil (Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata); Vivaldi’s Things That Go Bump In The Night Concerto (including deranged drunken sleep); Dowland in a melancholic mood (for something completely different); blessings for the dead by Schütz and Sheli Nan—a brand new piece written for Albany Consort—and Purcell’s counterculture anti-authority witches brewing up something very nasty.

Gilbert Martinez

Gilbert Martinez

On Friday, Barefoot Chamber Concerts presents harpsichordist Gilbert Martinez performing music by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Gilbert needs no introduction to Bay Area music lovers. Director of MusicSources, conductor, harpsichordist of legendary panache, his all-around music enthusiast, his talents are uncannily well suited to this fascinating music. The program will include the suite in E minor/major from (1724), selections from Suite in A minor (1728), and miscellaneous items (including the Ouverture to Pigmalion). We can’t wait. As Barefoot founder observes, this may well be your last chance for relaxed musical fun before the onslaught of politics, holidays, cold weather and long nights, so come out while you have the chance.

kammen shira pic

Shira Kammen

Then next Sunday, the East Bay choir Gallimaufry will perform “Mappa Mundi: A Musical Atlas.” This concert of medieval, Renaissance, and traditional music celebrating great places of the world is presented as part of the Bay Area Classical Harmonies and Arlington Community Church concert series. Gallimaufry was formed in early 2014 by well-known early music scholar and musician, Shira Kammen to perform music from the medieval and Renaissance eras, as well as traditional and contemporary settings of early texts and tunes. Ms. Kammen as Artistic Director, who also arranges and composes some of the music the ensemble performs. The group is unusual in the early music world for performing mostly secular rather than sacred music. The name “Gallimaufry” is a 16th-century French word meaning mix or medley (referring usually to a stew or soup) and reflects the variety of the group’s repertory.

When you add to these concerts the regular, Wednesday meeting of the Mid-Peninsula Recorder Orchestra it means more than half of this week’s events are sponsored by SFEMS Affiliate organizations. And more than half the remainder are presented by people with deep connections to the San Francisco Early Music Society. Not a bad end to October or start to the concert season.