Early Music Department

Message from the Director

September, 2013

Paul Elliott

As I write this, I am conscious that many changes are occurring in the world of higher education.  Within the EMI, the question of what the future of our small department will look like after Professor Michael McCraw and I retire in May 2014 is uppermost in our minds.  The EMI is in the process of crafting a vision for the future that will, I believe, place IU and the Jacobs School of Music at the educational cutting edge of modern Historical Performance.  Watch this space for further details!

Meanwhile the EMI plans an action-packed year, with the IU Baroque Orchestra joining forces with the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis in December for two performances of Handel’s greatest oratorio, Messiah.  The EMI’s Bloomington Bach Cantata Project began its fourth year and its 19th performance with BWV 26: Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig.  This cantata, with its somber but hopeful message, was offered as an appropriate tribute for the life of our late and much-loved colleague, baroque oboist Washington McClain.  As always there will be 6 period-instrument cantata performances over the academic year under a wide variety of directors, and this enriching Sunday afternoon ritual continues to gain in popularity.  In November, members of the baroque orchestra will perform Handel’s oratorio Esther under the baton of choral conductor William Gray.  The Five Friends Master Class Series will see two EMI-sponsored visits: in January by the London Haydn Quartet, and in February by the doyen of cornetto players and 17th-century music specialist, Bruce Dickey.  The EMI’s students will also feature in a Public Radio International Christmas special, which we will record in November, and which will be broadcast nationwide.  February sees members of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra return with their artistic director, Barthold Kuijken, to administer the annual IBO/EMI concerto competition.  Around these major events, there will also be much to enjoy in our regular round of concerts and recitals ­- I guarantee it!

In academics, IUJSoM undergraduate majors on “modern” instruments and in Voice continue to be able to take a challenging 15-credit Minor in Early Music as part of their degree, and the EMI continues to offer an Outside Field MM of 6 credits for graduate majors, which requires at least one performance practice course as well as private lessons.  A little known fact is that, in common with all departments in the IUJSoM, non-EMI graduates may opt for a full 12-credit Minor in Early Music by taking extra courses beyond their degree requirement. This allows those who take advantage of this option to build a more secure foundation for a future professional career in music. A 12-credit DM minor with further coursework, as well as lessons on every period instrument we cover, and in Voice, is also offered.

In research, the EMI continues to oversee a series published by Indiana University Press: Publications of the Early Music Institute. Recent releases include Stanley Ritchie’s: Before the Chinrest -- A Violinists' Guide to the Mysteries of Pre-Chinrest Technique and Style, and Barthold Kuijken’s reflections on Early Music and Performance Practice: The Notation Is Not the Music. October 2013 will see the release of Lawrence Bennett’s: The Italian Cantata in Venice, and in Spring 2014 Joan Benson’s: Clavichord for Beginners will be available.

Focus Recordings, the recording label of the Early Music Institute, plans to produce more recordings shortly. Downloads, through an agreement with CDBaby, are likely to become another way to obtain and enjoy this rare and interesting series of recordings which can be bought through the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music website Marketplace.

I am pleased to report that we continue to have adjunct faculty to teach baroque flute, early oboe and clarinet, baroque trumpet and cornetto, and early trombone, as well as fortepiano and harpsichord adjuncts assisting our full-time teacher, Elisabeth Wright.  The EMI relies on our part-time faculty in a way not duplicated elsewhere in the IU Jacobs School of Music.  Together we are able to flesh out the performance teaching and the courses offered by our six full-time faculty members in voice, harpsichord and fortepiano, violin and baroque ‘cello, baroque bassoon and recorder, viols and medieval strings, lute and, with Richard Seraphinoff, natural horn.  Details of all our academic and performance activities are on our web site.

There will continue to be many challenges ahead for us in our mission to “make old music new again”.  As ever, I am optimistic that we are up to the task!

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