Bloomington Early Music Festival returns with new schedule, model | heraldtimesonline.com
BLEMF. Yes, BLEMF, the new BLEMF, the Bloomington Early Music Festival revived and in a changed calendar slot, a period commencing Wednesday evening, just ahead of IU’s about-to-start flood of concerts. Whatever the future holds for BLEMF will, we’re told, take place not when things used to, at the end of May, but henceforth, in early September.
“This will be a watershed event for us,” says Christine Kyprianides, president of the festival’s board of directors. “Two years ago, it was apparent that we had to change direction, find new audiences, and revisit our mission. By moving the festival to a time during the academic year, we have the opportunity to profit from the immense resources of the university and to make a significant contribution in return. We’ll see if this is a successful model or not.”
… BLEMF is also entering into the spirit of IU’s Themester initiative, Making War, Making Peace, presenting the distinguished San Francisco-based Magnificat Baroque Ensemble in a program of selections taken from Book 8 of Claudio Monteverdi’s Madrigals, “Madrigals of War and Love.”
“I first heard Magnificat in South Bend several years ago,” says Kyprianides. “It was a wonderful concert, and I talked for some time afterwards with its artistic director, Warren Stewart, about all sorts of musical things. Later, when the BLEMF program committee was planning for our War and Peace program, we decided that we had to have a performance of the Monteverdi madrigals. EMI’s Paul Elliott, who is on our board, suggested asking Magnificat. Both he and Nigel are regular members of the ensemble.
“We wanted this to be the main event of our festival,” she continues, “and, therefore, we were looking for a group of singers and instrumentalists that had been working together for a long time and focused primarily on 17th century Italian music. Magnificat was a good fit, especially with the EMI connection. The musicians are coming early and rehearsing in Bloomington for their Saturday night concert. I hope they will have an opportunity to interact with some of the students in the Jacobs School.”
Stewart says, “We’ve been doing this repertoire for 20 years. It’s wonderful music, of course. Monteverdi was the first great operatic composer. He brings a sort of operatic drama to the madrigals. They contain remarkable contrasts of emotion and character. The music changes constantly. It is highly expressive, passionate. I think Monteverdi meant it to move the soul.”
The festival will offer five events, Wednesday through Sunday, Sept. 11. “I think each of our concerts has something special to offer,” says Kyprianides. “Nigel North (on Wednesday) is an incomparable musician and one of the great interpreters of his generation. August Denhard and Munir Beken (Thursday) will bring a scent of Lotus with their ‘East Meets West’ program.
The three musicians of Isshallyn are each familiar to Bloomington audiences but are venturing into new territory with their concert of Celtic music (Friday). We also have a splendid program by the Bloomington Bach Cantata Project, with all the bells and whistles — trumpets and drums — directed by distinguished faculty of the Jacobs School (Sunday).”