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  2017 Schedule

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History of Early Music Week

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Until Early Music Week 2017!





“There seemed to be no end to the artistry of the faculty and the enthusiasm of the participants.”
-- an Early Music Week participant



'Tis Nature's Voice

Images of Nature in Music and Dance

Thursday - Thursday
June 22 - June 29, 2017

Registration is now open!
Early-bird discount ends May 15

Please join us!

Nature has provided musicians with inexhaustible inspiration since the days of Pythagoras. Natural imagery informed the lyrics of many medieval songs and musicians expanded their music by imitating the sounds of birds and animals, whose physical gestures also inspired new dance movements. In the Renaissance, the dynamics of wind and water gained their musical counterparts, and it wasn’t long before madrigals were turning landscapes, with their mountains, valleys, plains, heat and cold, heights and depths, into song. The inner aspects of human nature, such as pulse, breathe, sleep, excitement, rage, melancholy, and sorrow, came to be represented as well, often in a pastoral setting, with the help of musical-rhetorical figures. In the resulting form, opera, instrumental music and dance (along with costumes and scenery) brought the natural and human worlds together.

At World Fellowship’s Early Music Week, 2017, we will explore this fruitful and multifaceted perspective on the performing arts with the help of our talented and energetic faculty, inspired by the breath-taking natural surroundings of Mount Chocorua and Whitton Pond, and sustained by the garden-fresh organic vegetables on our dinner plates.

Héloïse Degrugillier, recorder, and Ken Pierce, historical dance, will be our returning guest faculty, joining Jane Hershey, viol, Anne Legêne, viol, Roy Sansom, recorder, Pamela Dellal, voice, Larry Wallach, keyboard, and Josh Schreiber Shalem, viols and FeldenkraisTM body work. Join us and discover your inner natural musician.


‘Tis Nature’s voice,
thro’ all the moving wood,
and creatures understood,
The universal tongue,
to none of all her num’rous race unknown
From her, it learnt,
the mighty art,
To court the ear,
or strike the heart,
At once the passions
to express and move,
We hear, and straight
we grieve or hate;
rejoice or love
In unseen chains
it does the fancy bind,
At once it charms the sense,
and captivates the mind.

--by Nicholas Brady (from Ode to St. Cecilia, Henry Purcell)

from Ken Pierce:

How can dancing be Nature's voice? Is it not merely a human, social invention, grounded in cultural norms and prejudices, an arbitrary system of steps and rules to be learned and practiced: the very antithesis of Nature? Well, yes....

But if you believe (as Renaissance authors did) that all of Nature was created from chaos and is now an ordered and harmonious whole, then the regulated steps and symmetrical patterns of dance embody Nature's overall design. Irises waving in the breeze, goats frolicking in the meadow, the sun rising and setting, the stars and planets in their celestial motions: all Nature seems to dance, and dance thus mirrors all of Nature. So, let us dance!

We will focus on steps and dances described in Italian treatises from around the end of the sixteenth century, learning typical step sequences in different meters and rhythms from various dance types: balletto, cascarda, saltarello, gagliarda, canario. Dancers will have the opportunity to perform in student concerts at the end of the week.