Weekly Newsletter 

 September 21, 2020 — The Bay Area Early Music Digest 
This week in Early Music: 

A Note From Us

Get an inside look at SFEMS each week!

It hasn't been an easy journey to get to a 44th concert season.

When it became clear in the summer that no in-person concerts would be possible in the fall, our attention turned in earnest towards how we could still showcase the best of what early music and historically informed performance can be. Rather than lament about what online performances could not be, we decided to embrace how technology can invite us to consider the music we love in a different way, with our three months of virtual workshops sessions serving as both experiment and encouragement. (More to come soon on that, by the way...)

As we continue to move forward in this "pause", we are delighted to start off with three scintillating programs featuring some of the artists we had hoped to bring to the Bay Area this season. We are delighted to kick off our virtual season with local favorite Agave Baroque and internationally-renowned countertenor Reggie Mobley in a program of "American Originals", followed by early music legend Mary Springfels and Severall Friends presenting the music of Le Roman de Fauvel, that timeless and timely political satire. Finally, we're excited to invite to present rising stars Tabea Debus (recorder) and Alon Sariel (lute) in a toe-tapping program of earworms. At each presentation, we'll have the chance to interact with our artists through a live chat.

As our 44th season progresses, we will continue to adapt to what is possible, with more concert presentations to be revealed as we move forward. If and when we return to live performance, the safety of our concertgoers and artists will be our priority, recognizing that our musicians need as much support as possible in these distressing times. 

 Press play in the pause with us today!

Yours always,

Derek Tam, Executive Director

NEW: "Pressing Play in the Pause"—Join Us for Our 2020–21 Virtual Season

In these extraordinary times, the power of music to transcend the vicissitudes of fortune has become more vital than ever. Though our lives remain on hold, music must move forward.

Join us for our 44th season of extraordinary music-making! Press play in the pause with us as we share an ongoing series of unique online concerts, starting with three presentations this fall.

With your household ticket purchase, you will receive a unique link to our high-definition livestream. Each presentation will feature pre-recorded and live material, as well as a special opportunity to interact with our artists through our live chat.

Concerts will also be available on demand for a limited time after the initial livestream.

October 3: Agave Baroque presents American Originals
October 24: Severall Friends presents Le Roman de Fauvel
November 21: Tabea Debus and Alon Sariel present Ohrwurm

Savor great music—period.


Agave Baroque: American Originals on Oct. 3


Saturday, October 3 at 4:00 p.m. PT
High-definition Vimeo livestream with purchase.
Available on-demand through October 24.

Incomparable countertenor Reginald L. Mobley joins Agave Baroque to celebrate Black and Latino composers from North and South America, centering on the United States with stops in Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.

Among the many treasures of this repertoire are an unexpected and sentimental side of Scott Joplin, a song by Black American guitar virtuoso Justin Holland, two works by the earliest known Cuban classical composer, and a set of songs by the extraordinary Florence B. Price, who seamlessly blended Romantic art song and spirituals into a sound all her own.

Coming Soon: Fall Virtual Educational

Fall will soon be upon us!

Building from our wonderful workshop sessions in the summer, we'll be opening registrations for new early music adventures in just a couple of days!

Early Music Freelancers' Relief Fund: Sixth Round Now Open

Relief fund grant recipients may apply for a sixth grant one month after the date they turned in their fifth grant applications. If you have continuing need, please resubmit your application with documentation demonstrating your continuing need.

First-, second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-time grant applicants will receive priority. (You may file for a continuing grants one month after the day you turned in your previous application).

As the coronavirus pandemic wreaks an unprecedented financial toll on the world economy, our local early music freelancers have been particularly hit hard. Months of work have dried up in days, leaving many musicians on the brink of financial ruin.

In an effort to help our musicians, the SFEMS board has taken the lead in setting up a short-term relief fund for local early music freelancers. Since then, we have received over $50,000 in donations. This fund will provide one-time, first-come, first-served $250 grants to musicians in need, and will do so until funds run out.

If You're Looking to Renew Your Membership, Watch This Video

If your membership renewal is due in the next several months but you are encountering financial difficulties, please contact administrator Stacey Helley at No membership will lapse during the current crisis if we are informed that you would like to continue being a SFEMS member.

To find out your membership status online, log in on our membership page. (N.B. If you use a different login email address than previously on record, please note that it will create a new, separate profile for you that will not have any membership data.)

You will then be prompted to update your contact information. If there is no change, please click "save and continue."

On the next screen, you will be able to see your membership level and expiration date if you are a current member. You may renew a membership within 30 days prior to the expiration date.

Still not sure? Watch this handy video!
Excited about becoming a member or renewing your membership? SFEMS Marketing Communications Manager Lorena Zapata will guide you step-by-step through the process online!

Local Choirs Serve up Early Music Virtually in Lockdown

The Bay Area is brimming with community choirs large and small, with everything from chamber groups to ensembles with several hundred voices.

With choirs unable to meet in person, many have kept their members engaged and vocally fit by gathering online to rehearse as well as develop recording and editing skills despite the logistical difficulties.

Learn more about some early-music-specific offerings from local community choirs this fall, with an invitation to join!

2020 Annual Meeting President's Remarks

On Sunday, September 13, the San Francisco Early Music Society held its annual membership meeting—our first such gathering online—with over 40 in attendance. Highlights included a performance by Calextone, our newest affiliate, and a celebration of Jonathan Harris, our beloved communications director who retired in February after three decades of exemplary service.

SPONSORED: "Live From London" (and Support SFEMS)

Join London-based VOCES8 as they present an online festival featuring some of the world's leading vocal ensembles!

Filmed in 4K and broadcast in HD from the intimate setting of the VOCES8 Centre, this new online festival features some of the world's finest vocal ensembles. The line-up includes VOCES8I Fagiolini, The SwinglesStile AnticoThe Sixteen (from Kings Place), The Gesualdo SixApollo5Chanticleer (from San Francisco), and a special guest appearance by The Academy of Ancient Music.

Festival broadcasts began on August 1, and will be broadcast online every Saturday for ten weeks. However, you can still catch up with past concerts on-demand by buying a season ticket for $100 (a 33% discount compared to the single ticket price of $15). If you purchase from the link below, SFEMS will receive a portion of the proceeds from your subscription!

Early Music Corner:
Mensural Notation 101

Explore a different facet of the early music world each week!
Dive into the intricacies of mensural notation—the notational system used in late Medieval and Renaissance music—with a new video from our friends at Early Music Sources!

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This Week's Events

Want your early music event featured on the SFEMS Weekly Calendar? Contact us here and online at

For events, email SFEMS's Marketing Communications Manager, Lorena Zapata at Please submit listings no later than the Thursday before the Monday publication.
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