An Update About the Berkeley Festival

To our dear Berkeley Festival community:

As I look out my window and see nature coming into ecstatic bloom, it is almost impossible to reconcile such beauty with the unfolding worldwide crisis. It is harder still to believe the worst is yet to come.

It is with this bleak future in mind that I write to you now on behalf of San Francisco Early Music Society’s Board of Directors and staff. Because the health of our artists, production team, patrons and wider community comes first, we will be cancelling the 16th biennial Berkeley Festival & Exhibition.

We did not come to this decision lightly. Each Festival represents the culmination of two years of planning and preparation, of anticipation transformed into joy. But even as we dismantle the sprawling structure of the Festival, our attention must turn to the immense task of stewarding SFEMS through this unprecedented crisis, while fulfilling our mission to promote the early music which sustains our souls. (For those of you who are also eagerly awaiting news about our summer workshops, please know that we are evaluating a range of options.)

With this grand undertaking in mind, we ask that you consider the following:

  • If you are financially able and willing, please donate your tickets back to the Festival, and receive a tax-deductible donation letter for the face value of your ticket(s). Your donation will help us cover the significant costs we have incurred, as well as potentially help us provide honoraria for our artists. We will also gladly refund your ticket purchase(s).

Please contact the SFEMS box office at tickets@sfems.org or by phone at 510-528-1725.

  • Consider directly supporting the main stage artists, exhibitors, and Fringe performers whose livelihoods have been ripped from their hands. Perhaps you may buy an artist’s CD or album online, or have their wares shipped to you. For Bay Area artists, you may consider a donation to our freelancers’ relief fund in our ongoing efforts to support our beloved local musicians.

All of us can testify to music’s inimitable ability to elevate the spirit. Whenever the news has brought us to new lows, it has been music that has reinvigorated my conviction in the resilience of humankind. The path is murky between now and the next Festival, scheduled in 2022. Nonetheless, I know that when we meet again, we will treasure each and every moment.

To the power of music, and to your continued health,

Derek Tam

Executive Director, San Francisco Early Music Society
Artistic Director, Berkeley Festival and Exhibition
on behalf of the SFEMS Board of Directors

Written by Derek Tam