Weekly Newsletter 

 February 15, 2021 — The Bay Area Early Music Digest 
This week in Early Music: 

A Note From Us

Get an inside look at SFEMS each week!

As a historical keyboardist, it seems sometimes that I spend as much time tuning my instruments as practicing. Harpsichords and fortepianos are (rather unjustly, in my opinion) notorious for going out of tune as if on whim, with pitches shifted by the slightest change in temperature or humidity, not to mention the notion of playing the instrument.

Even if one manages to get one hundred-plus strings in tune, one's elation is tempered (pun intended) by the realization that one's work will slowly and perceptibly be undone within a day or two, and that any system of tuning is a compromise between our twelve-note chromatic scale and pure Pythagorean ratios? (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I encourage you to check out Ross Duffin's lecture next month!)

If this anecdote is of any use, perhaps we should let remind us that perfection is impossible and entropy is unavoidable, a lot of beauty can still come out of steady work and compromise...

Yours in music, as always,

Derek Tam, Executive Director

Tesserae Baroque Kicks Off
2021 Concert Lineup

Tesserae Baroque | Mar 13 at 4:00PM PST
La Selva Selvaggia:
From Diminution to the Stylus Phantasticus

The stylus phantasticus (the fantastic style) was a 17th-century name given to the instrumental music of the early Italian Baroque, deemed to be wild, bizarre, improvisatory—and, of course, new.

At the same time, this “new” style was largely grounded in older practice: the improvisation of diminutions, or florid Renaissance ornamentation. This program by Los Angeles-based Tesserae Baroque (Ian Pritchard, music director; Alexandra Opsahl, executive director) explores the fertile ground in which these seeds of improvisation grew into the sonata and toccata.

Enjoy music by Palestrina, Domenico Ferrabosco, Fontana, de Rore, Castello and others!


Learn to
"Pluck and Not Plink!"
in Our Next Class

Shira Kammen's Whirlwind Tour from Chant to Dufay comes to an exhilarating end in a fifth and final session this Saturday!

Don't fret, though! Follow up with a delightful session on Sunday from Cheryl Ann Fulton. To Pluck and Not To Plink—That Is the Secret! is for beginning and intermediate harpists wanting to improve their tone and technique.

Our winter and spring classes will be offered through March 27th, with lectures, demonstrations and play-along sessions.

Listen, practice, dance, ask questions, and interact directly with our faculty members—there's something for everyone!

Enroll at


Early Music Freelancers' Relief Fund—Tenth Round Now Open

Relief fund grant recipients may apply for a tenth grant one month after the date they turned in their ninth grant applications. If you have continuing need, please resubmit your application. However, there is no need to submit documentation of recently lost work, given the paucity of gigs.

First-time grant applicants, as well as repeat applicants who have received fewer than eight grants, 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 $60,000 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.

UPDATED January 12, 2021: Because of your generosity, SFEMS is more than equipped to continue providing grants for the foreseeable future! We are temporarily suspending the ability to donate to the relief fund, but hope you will considering support SFEMS’s programming.

Need a Tax Letter from SFEMS?

If you need a duplicate copy of your donation acknowledgment for your 2020 tax return, please contact SFEMS Administrator, Stacey Helley, at

You should have received both an email immediately after making your donation fro
m "", and a mailed letter the following month.

Learn How to Renew Your SFEMS Membership Step-By-Step

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!
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!

Early Music Corner: Some Very, Very Early Music

Explore a different facet of the early music world each week!
Once thought to be a drinking vessel, this 17,000-year-old conch languished on a museum shelf for 80 years. Read the scintillating story behind how scientists figure out its true use.

Facebook Post of the Week

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Thank You to Our New Facebook Followers!

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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 Tuesday before the Monday publication.
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