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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student

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Bloomington Early Music Festival to celebrate women through concerts, education workshops


The 2022 Bloomington Early Music Festival will celebrate women in early music. The festival, held at multiple locations, will feature in-person and virtual concerts and educational workshops from May 22-27. 

Bloomington Early Music is a presenting organization as they support performances of ensembles and artists, specifically in music from medieval times to early 19th century, said Suzanne Ryan-Melamed, Bloomington Early Music board president. 

 Going forward, this annual festival will explore the role of a different under-represented group in early music-making. This year, the festival will highlight the artitsary, influence and presence of women spanning over nine centuries.

When deciding to make this shift and have this festival focus on women in early music, Ryan-Melamed said she asked herself why early music is still relevant. She said that, rather than wiping away this history, she prefers to look at what was actually going on as opposed to what history has handed down.

“What's really important about this festival is that it shows that women were present, influential, powerful, skilled, talented,” Ryan-Melamed. “They made beautiful music, were patronized  and supported, music was written for women, women were poets whose words were used. We have all of these different roles of women covered across our performances in the festival.”

The five day festival will feature five in-person concerts and seven virtual concerts. For virtual concerts, people can watch at home or attend screenings at the Downtown Branch of the Monroe County Library in room 2A during each scheduled release time.

In-person concerts will also be live-streamed, and virtual concerts will be available for streaming until June 4. Navigation to the livestreams and virtual performances will be available on the Bloomington Early Music website.

Entry to all concerts is free. There will be an opening performance by Bloomington Bach Cantata Project at 8 p.m. May 22 at the FAR Center for Contemporary Arts. 

In-person concerts will be everyday at 8 p.m. at various locations. On May 23, Cappella Romana will perform at the Mill; on May 24, Isshallyn will perform at Hopscotch Coffee B-Line Cafe; and on May 25, Musica Spira will perform at the FAR Center for Contemporary Arts.

On May 26, Miryam will perform at the Monroe County Courthouse and on May 27, Tonos del Sur will perform at Trinity Episcopal Church. 

Virtual performances include Musica Secreta, Forgotten Clefs, Bach Collegium San Diego, Le Concert de la Reine, Rebecca Cypess, Westeinde Winds and Schola Antiqua. The virtual concerts series is sponsored by Brookdale Senior Living.

A full digital program with the full schedule, performer’s program notes and more information is available on the Bloomington Early Music website. 

Sarah Cranor is the director of Tonos del Sur, the final performance of the festival. Cranor said she is excited to perform and close out the festival.

“We can connect, especially across centuries,” Cranor said. “Human emotions are still human emotions that we can feel and experience and relive and I think that's the beauty of what we do and what makes it current and important.”

At this closing concert, Bloomington Early Music will announce the theme for the 2023 festival. 

Bloomington Early Music festival will offer several outreach workshops ranging from sword fighting to dancing. All workshops are free, except for the 21+ Tavern Hopping through Time workshop, which will cost $15.  

Attendees can RSVP to these workshops on the Bloomington Early Music website. Locations and descriptions for each workshop are also available on the website

Ryan-Melamed said early music is very joyful and there is so much of it that people can appreciate. Bloomington Early Music does historically informed performance practice, which means the presented groups perform in a way that's authentic to how it was done back then. 

“This music belongs to everybody and it's fun and it's beautiful and it's moving and it's painful in ways that make you empathetic to other people's situations,” Ryan-Melamed said.  “I think people should come because they'll love it and they'll find something that they can be joyful about that maybe they didn't know about before.”

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