Weekly Newsletter 

 February 22, 2021 — The Bay Area Early Music Digest 
This week in Early Music: 

A Note From Us

Get an inside look at SFEMS each week!

Last week marked the 400th anniversary of the death of Michael Praetorius (1571–1621), the great compiler of the musical practices of his day. In his expansive (and incomplete) three-volume Syntagma Musicum, Praetorius attempted to document the extraordinary diversity of instrumental practice at an important juncture in musical history. But even if his writings looked backward towards the late Renaissance, his music frequently pointed forward towards the new practices of the Baroque, including basso continuo.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture, hosted by the USC Early Music Studies Institute and Early Music America, featuring Ron Daise, a noted advocate of Gullah Geechee culture. What struck me about Daise's presentation was not only his deep knowledge of the past, but the power of his own songs reflecting today's Gullah Geechee culture.

While Praetorius and Daise may seem to be worlds removed, the ways in which they combine preservation with creation resonate with me. Even as we obsessively search out evidence from the past as historically informed musicians and audiences, it is just as important that we are creating a living tradition that reflects our current reality and priorities.

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!


Vicki Boeckman Returns in
"Canons and Imitation"

Vicki Boeckman
Saturday, February 27 @ 3 p.m.
Recorder players at the intermediate and "slightly above" levels—alto, tenor and bass recorders—are welcome to participate in this fascinating class focusing on three- and four-part canons by Guillaume Machaut, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, the infamous Anonymous, and Matthias Maute. 

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

UPDATE: Early Music Freelancers' Relief Fund—Eleventh Round Now Open

Relief fund grant recipients may apply for an eleventh grant one month after the date they turned in their tenth 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 nine 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.

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: Expanding the Music Theory Canon

Explore a different facet of the early music world each week!
Philip A. Ewell Quote
As she began teaching music theory courses at her university, harpsichordist Paula Maust found that almost all musical examples in undergraduate theory textbooks were from white, male composers. This new website is intended to being addressing this imbalance by providing musical examples from female composers and composers of color.

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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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