Weekly Newsletter 

 August 17, 2020 — The Bay Area Early Music Digest 
This week in Early Music: 

A Note From Us: Help Us End Our Fiscal Year Strongly!

Get an inside look at SFEMS each week!
This week, we hear from our President, Joyce Johnson Hamilton.

Dear SFEMS community:

So…how has your summer been? I hope you have managed to stay safe and well. The weather has been indescribably beautiful on the San Francisco Peninsula during this time of a raging pandemic! I savor the mellow hours I spend in our garden communing with the cat and my large collection of succulents—the one species that seems to be able to survive on neglect but loves attention! Another of the summer’s pleasures has been participating in SFEMS weekend online workshops with a few recorders and music stand within easy reach. The one new activity I resolved to accomplish during the summer was learning to solve Sudoku puzzles. One result of my immersion into the world of Sudoku is that I keep finding parallels in life with the kind of thinking you have to do to solve a puzzle.  You can make a nine-by-nine grid of any activity: a weight loss diet, an exercise program, a practice schedule, a grocery list, or a budgeting plan.

As you well know by now, the entire performing arts community is having a “virtual” summer and probably will continue to be virtual for months to come.  Every performing arts organization has been flung by a catapult into the virtual future: a world without any place to perform except online. Here at SFEMS, our staff, board members, patrons, workshop directors and participants and members have been asked to reshuffle SFEMS's Sudoku grid. Live concerts have been taken away, along with our in-person workshops. But we've added online classes, the relief fund for Bay Area early music professionals, and so on. We're becoming adept at working out our new Sudoku grid, and there will be more adaptations to come for next season as we continue to develop ideas for membership growth, continued online education, as well as streamed concert presentations.

That said, the most important spot on our SFEMS Sudoku grid is your continuing generous support of SFEMS as an essential portal to all early music activities in the Bay Area! I hope your sense of adventure is heightened by the rapid development of technology that will not only provide new and improved outlets for creative expression, but much-needed community in these difficult times.

The future is NOW!  Please help ensure SFEMS’ future!

Wish very best wishes,

Joyce Johnson Hamilton, President

Join the SFEMS Family and Become a Member

Your support is more important than ever! Since 1975, SFEMS has presented high quality concerts, up-to-date publications, and some of the best education programs available anywhere. All this has contributed to the Bay Area’s reputation as one of America’s leading centers for the performance of early music.

As a community membership organization, we want to invite you to join in the fun! Learn more below about membership and how to donate.


Are You Already a Member? Or Not Sure? (Watch a 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!

Thank You for Attending the Virtual Sessions, and Stay Tuned

A fun screenshot from one of our classes!

Thank you for joining us for three months of virtual sessions! Your dedication powered us through this new endeavor, born out of crisis and sustained by your enthusiasm.

We look forward to bringing you more educational opportunities in the fall!

Early Music Freelancers' Relief Fund: Fifth Round Now Open

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

First-, second-, third-, and fourth-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.

California Relief Fund for Artists and Cultural Practitioners

The newly formed California Relief Fund for Artists and Cultural Practitioners program was created by the California Arts Council in response to the economic crisis and impending financial needs of individual artists resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of $920,000 of the Council’s state grant funds have been allocated to the program, which will offer unrestricted $1,000 grants for individual artists and cultural practitioners statewide.

The application cycle will close on August 18.

Classical Workshop Cancelled

It is with regret that we announce that the 2020 Classical Workshop has been canceled because of the pandemic. Registrants will be offered a full refund, with an option as well to donate their payment back to SFEMS.

Early Music Corner: An Indian-French Mash-Up

Explore a different facet of the early music world each week!
Enjoy this delightful juxtaposition of sargam (Indian solfege) with Pierre Passereau's (fl. 1509-1547) saucy "Il est bel et bon", sung by Cincinnati-based soprano Vidita Kanniks. She writes:

"Every choir kid has sung this piece but it's still one of my all-time favorites. Part of the reason why this piece is so popular (my theory) is because it's written in one of the most attractive scalar modes of all time[:] 'Dorian' (in the western tradition), 'Kharaharapriya' as classified in the Carnatic system of 72 mela ragas or 'Kaafi' in the Hindustani thaat system[.]

For the most part we simplify music into generic 'major' or 'minor' modes[,] but the Indian theory system recognizes an almost infinite number of ragas/modes. It's fun to dig a little deeper and appreciate these patterns that make pieces that much more unique from one another."

UC Davis Student Helps Preserve Instrument Collection 
Since last year, recent UC Davis graduate William Storz has assisted harpsichordist Phebe Craig in cataloging and restoring the university's extensive but neglected early music collection.

Learn more about their efforts here.

Les Délices to Debut New Series

The Ohio-based early music ensemble, which has performed on the SFEMS concert series, is debuting a new online salon experience hosted by artistic director Debra Nagy. The first show, on August 24 at 7:30PM ET, features the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and artists Sherezade Panthaki, Shelby Yamin, Eric Milnes, and Mélisande Corriveau. Free to watch, with a $10 suggested donation.

Learn more about the series here.

Facebook Post of the Week

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Our lively Facebook community brings you the latest SFEMS updates, contests, and more! Don't miss out on making new friends, fascinating discussions, and a chance to share the joy of early music!

3.7K followers and counting...

This week, we welcome our new Facebook followers!

Buddy Mercer
Derek Berger
Beth Richard
Abbie Nye
Joni Hatty Ammon
Veronica Maria
Thai Son Trann
Rose Marie Terada
Tuva Sunniva Thomassen Bolstad
Jon Max
Bryan Keith
Philip Wilder
Zuzanna Kozłowska
Will Dickinson
Kurt Stein
SFEMS Facebook page
SFEMS website

This Week's Events

Aug 23:
Santa Cruz Baroque Festival – "Bach and the Virtuoso Violin"

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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