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Until Early Music Week 2017!






The Early Music Week faculty share thoughts on the year's program


Ken PierceFeb. 5, 2017

Music and Nature:
a historical overview in a nutshell

by Larry Wallach, faculty

The ancient Greeks like Pythagoras thought that the vibrational qualities of musical intervals reflected the structure of the cosmos, particularly in its quality of perfect harmony.  Mythology drew the connection between the natural, human, and magical realms, celebrated in sung or lyric poetry.  Medieval sensibilities did not separate the natural and the spiritual, and viewed music as one way to express cosmic truth. (Music was part of the quadrivium, the four higher elements of knowledge, which also included with astronomy, geometry, and arithmetic.)  As medieval culture discovered the realm of the senses (probably owing to the development of a consumerist aristocracy) nature furnished pleasure and imagery to occupy new-found leisure time and newly refined sensibilities. 


Ken PierceJan. 12, 2017

Images of Nature in Dance
by Ken Pierce, faculty

How can dancing be Nature's voice? Is it not merely a human, soci 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!


From EMW 2016:

Ken PierceMay 13, 2016

Dancing to Music

by Ken Pierce, faculty

It is possible to dance without music, or to dance "during" music but without an intentional connection to it. It is also possible to dance in a way that relates somehow to a piece of music, but without acknowledging its beat or phrasing.

We will do none of this. Instead we will learn dances this summer that were made with specific types of music in mind. The dances of the Renaissance and Baroque periods have a clear relation to musical structure and rhythm. We will learn steps and sections of dances from 16th-century Italy, including duple- and triple-meter balletti, galliards, saltarelli, and canaries; and from early-18th-century France, including bourrées, gavottes, sarabandes, gigues, menuets. In each case, we will be paying close attention to the way steps and music connect.


April 10, 2016

Jane HersheyHow did I get here?

My experiences playing for historical dance

by Jane Hershey, co-director

"Experiencing the connection between music and dance in both Renaissance and Baroque music has had a profound influence on my own music-making."

My first experience playing for historical dance was at the idyllic Crane Estate in Ipswich, Mass., during the Castle Hill Early Music and Dance Workshop, directed by Tom Kelly.  Recently back in the US after my studies in Holland in the late 70’s, I was re-introducing myself to Boston’s early music scene.  What an amazing opportunity the summer weeks at Castle Hill turned out to be!  In classes held all over the estate, a group of eager musicians were farmed out the various dance instructors, who had to put up with whatever we could muster in terms of music performance for their classes.  Baroque classes were taught by Wendy Hilton, 15th century by Ingrid Brainard,16th c. Italian by Charles Garth and Elizabeth Aldrich, and 19th c. by Elizabeth.

My memory of who all the Castle Hill musicians were fails me.  John Tyson, Jane Starkman and Francie Fitch must have been there, because the experience there inspired the creation of a full-time ensemble, including me, made up of these players. We dedicated ourselves to bringing small scale performances of Baroque music and dance to a variety of audiences with Margaret Daniels as our dancer. 



Recent posts:

EMW 2017:
Music and nature, by Larry Wallach

Images of Nature in Dance, by Ken Pierce

EMW 2016:
Dancing to music, by Ken Pierce

Playing for historical dance, by Jane Hershey

EMW 2015:
Language, by Pamela Dellal

Genre, by Larry Wallach

Legacy, by Larry Wallach

EMW 2014:
The Spanish Golden Age in the Netherlands,
by Anne Legêne

Sephardic Music, by Jay Rosenberg

Ensalada by Salomé Sandoval