About the San Francisco Early Music Society
The San Francisco Early Music Society is a community-based organization
dedicated to increasing public appreciation for historically-informed
performance of early music. The Society emphasizes three areas of activity:
- concert presentations of primarily medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque
- education programs that encourage the development of amateurs of all
ages and increase public involvement and participation, while supporting
- services to the community, including communication, outreach, and
support for emerging artists
Why Early Music?
Music written hundreds of years ago can sound as fresh and alive today as when it was first heard. Lutes, recorders, sackbuts, baroque violins, harpsichords, and violas da gamba excite the senses now as they did centuries ago.
Since 1975 the San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) has presented high quality concerts, up-to-date publications, and some of the best education programs available anywhere. All this has contributed to the Bay Areaís reputation as one of Americaís leading centers for the performance of early music.
The San Francisco Early Music Society seeks to create an appreciative and supportive environment for the study and performance of medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music by both amateurs and professionals in Northern California. To this end, it works to increase public awareness of the richness and variety of classical music before 1750, to create opportunities for the performance of this repertoire, and to educate musicians of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities in the techniques appropriate to early music.
SFEMS was founded in 1975, growing from an informal gathering of early music enthusiasts into
the largest early music presenter and service organization in America. SFEMS is
a community-based membership organization and the most successful
society of its kind in the USA. Since its founding, SFEMS has been the
focal institution in Northern California for the advancement of
historically-informed performance of early music. It is unique in providing a
full spectrum of programs to the general public, to amateur and professional
musicians, and to children.
The Society emphasizes three areas of activity:
- concert presentations of
primarily medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music
- education programs that
support professionals, encourage the development of amateurs, and increase
public involvement and participation
- services to the community, including
communication, outreach, and
support for emerging artists
SFEMS activities include the following:
- the annual chamber concert series
- education programs for adults and children, including summer workshops
and after-school programs
- co-sponsorship of the biennial Berkeley Festival
- a monthly early music newsletter
- the Directory of Early Music
- a professional Affiliate Program
The Society produces at least seven major chamber concerts annually.
Since 1990 the Society has
produced a series of concerts as co-sponsor of the Berkeley Festival, a major
biennial event organized in cooperation with Cal Performances and the University
of California Department of Music. In all of its performance programs, SFEMS
maintains a special commitment to locally-based performers and ensembles.
SFEMS also takes an active role in music education. It offers a nationally
renowned series of summer workshops (first held in 1980) taught by
artists in residence at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park and at St. Albertís Priory in Oakland
to over 300 amateur and professional
musicians. It has offered a series of popular evening classes and collegia in
Berkeley on all aspects of early music. In recent years, it has added programs for
children, including after-school classes in the public schools and a special
summer workshop. Occasionally, the Society also arranges master classes and
symposia given by visiting performers.
Membership and Outreach
The Society currently has over 800 members throughout Northern California. As part of
SFEMS's community outreach and service programs, each member receives a
monthly newsletter covering events in the early music community. In the fall of each year the newsletter is sent to a greatly expanded
regional mailing list, as are all concert and workshop brochures. Finally, the
Society operates an Affiliate Program providing financial and program support
services to carefully selected performers and ensembles. The program currently
assists 42 local musical organizations and has given birth to such noted Bay
Area groups as the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Chanticleer, and Ensemble
Board of Directors
The Society is governed by a board of directors, currently (September 9, 2011)
consisting of 19 members:
John Phillips, president
Robert Cole and Yuko Tanaka, co-vice-presidents
Susan Richardson, secretary
Marilyn Marquis, treasurer
Marie Bertillion Collins
Kate van Orden
Christina Schiffner Santschi |
Directors are elected at the Annual Membership Meeting held the first Wednesday
You too can support early music in the Bay Area.
Become a member of SFEMS today!
Donate to SFEMS.
Last updated 09/28/2011.
San Francisco Early Music Society, P.O. Box 27495, San Francisco, CA 94127-0495 ·
SFEMS Box Office, P.O. Box 10151, Berkeley, CA 94709 ·
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