From June 9-13, ABS took part in the world famous exhibition at the 2015 Boston Early Music Festival (known as BEMF). Emma Gavenda and I spent our days chatting with Festival-goers, instrument makers, and dozens of musicians. In addition to speaking with music lovers about the upcoming ABS Festival & Academy, it was a pleasure to see so many ABS Academy alumni come by the ABS exhibition table between concerts. What an inspiration to see these outstanding musicians performing at such a high level and for appreciative audiences at this event. As an added bonus, ABS flutist and Academy faculty member Sandra Miller spent some time at the table talking with visitors about ABS and the Academy. Thanks, Sandy!
Outside of the exhibition hall, there were dozens of early music concerts happening all around downtown Boston. As it was impossible to see and hear everything, difficult choices had to be made. I was delighted to catch a few excellent “fringe” concerts, especially soprano Molly Netter (Academy 2014) singing with Les Canards Chantant (“The Singing Ducks” – look for them on Facebook!) in a program of Italian Madrigals and an ensemble from McGill University (part of Early Music America’s Young Performers Festival) performing a balanced program of French, Italian, and German music, including Telemann’s Trietto no. 3 in D Minor with stunning playing by oboist Joel Verkaik (Academy 2014). Joel also wrote the program notes.
The centerpiece of this year’s BEMF was a series of major works by Monteverdi, with fully staged performances of Orfeo, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, and L’incoronazione di Poppea, along with a concert performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. The opportunity to hear these early operas in such close proximity to one another attracted an international audience who filled the Boston University Theatre night after night. Several musicians from recent ABS concerts distinguished themselves in the superb Monteverdi cycle. Tenors Zachary Wilder (who made his ABS debut last January as Damon in Handel’s Acis and Galatea), Aaron Sheehan (Grammy Award winner who recently sang in ABS performances of Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St. John Passion), and Charles Blandy (who was a soloists in last season’s St. Matthew Passion) all played key roles in the operas and ABS violinist and Academy faculty member Robert Mealy was concertmaster for every performance.
Within just a few days, we had spoken with hundreds of people about the exciting events that are coming up for ABS. Several of our new friends decided to make the trip to San Francisco for this year’s ABS Festival & Academy, Versailles & The Parisian Baroque (August 7-16 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music) or apply to next year’s Academy. We look forward to seeing you all soon!