Weekly Newsletter 

January 18, 2021 — The Bay Area Early Music Digest 
This week in Early Music: 

A Note From Us

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In preparing to write this week's note, published on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I stumbled across this challenging, well-reasoned article from music critic Alex Ross about systemic racism in classical music. While it is a nice piece of trivia to know that one of King's favorite operas was Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Ross ultimately hammers home that "[t]he ultimate mistake is to look to music—or to any art form—as a zone of moral improvement, a refuge of sweetness and light." This is not to say that early music cannot be a refuge, which so many of us have experienced. What it does suggest, though, is that we have worked actively to create such a place of beauty and inclusion in early music: It could have gone, and can still, go the other way. Our duty, therefore, is to actively realize how we are falling short so that we can continue to reach towards these ideals.

This duty is not just about the conversations surrounding race. Also under scrutiny must be the economics surrounding making music professionally. Several days ago, The New York TImes published this profile of two opera singers, both American, but with one living in New York and one living in Germany. Though the German-based singer remains almost fully employed and the American singer has begun looking into software engineering, one must wonder if there is a third way. As King grappled with the challenges of economic justice in the final months of his abbreviated life, we also must not lose sight of the classical music world's part to play in King's call for a moral economy.

Derek Tam, Executive Director

Spring Classes Off to an Enthusiastic Start!

Our slate of exciting classes started this past Saturday with many very enthusiastic participants! Our winter and spring classes will continue 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—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.

Local Livestream Concert Proposals for Spring 2021

Since the beginning of the pandemic, SFEMS has remained committed to serving the Bay Area early music community.

As we continue to provide virtual musical events to our community through this time, SFEMS is issuing a call for proposals for live-streamed or pre-recorded programs by local (i.e. Bay Area resident) artists and ensembles for the spring of 2021.

Unless there is a drastic shift in restrictions and the course of the pandemic, we do not expect to present concerts with live audiences.

Board Meeting January 25

SFEMS will hold its next board meeting online on Monday, January 25. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m.  We welcome current members’ attendance at board meetings. Anyone interested in coming to the open portion of this meeting should contact President Joyce Johnson Hamilton at by January 24.

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: Vocal Music Instrumentation Index

Explore a different facet of the early music world each week!
If you were ever in need!
During the pandemic, flautist Anne Charrier and baritone Ben Kazez have worked on a searchable catalogue of all of Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas by instrumentation and text. They hope expand the project to cover works by other composers as well.

Check it out at!

Facebook Post of the Week

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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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