Early Music Day 2024: Join Europe’s Biggest Celebration of Early Music

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

In 2024, Europe will once again use the latest technology to celebrate music from down the centuries

The transformation of Europe’s Early Music scene over recent decades has done more than anything to prove how relevant the great music of the past can be to modern life in the present. Nothing has transformed the way we listen to ‘old’ music like the community of early musicians in Europe who have pioneered entirely new ways of playing and presenting the great music of distant epochs.

Early Music’s colossal revival is the classical music scene’s biggest success story of recent times. As Europe comes together to mark Early Music Day this Spring, it will do so in the knowledge that while there is much to celebrate, there is far more studying, researching, discovering and enjoying still to do.

The Early Music Day - organized by REMA European Early Music Network - is really about hearing wonderful performances and giving wider exposure to fine musicians. As it has for a dozen years now, this day of musical communication and unity across Europe and beyond will take place on March 21 - not only the first day of meteorological Spring, but the birthday of perhaps the most iconic early musician of all, Johann Sebastian Bach.

The twelfth Early Music Day will showcase hundreds of events from Scandinavia to the Iberian Peninsula, from Ireland to Ukraine. As always, the programme for the day is made up of proposals submitted by promoters, ensembles, artists and conservatoires - with many more still to be added.

Highlights of the day’s live music programme as it stands include Amandine Beyer and Gli Incogniti performing with dancer Thomas Queyrens in Bordeaux and Medieval Karaoke in Clermont-Ferrand; a celebration of French guitar music in Palermo and German keyboard music in Pesaro; Ensemble Harmonique’s cinematic portrait of Heinrich Schütz in Dresden and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis’s delve into vocal music of the High Middle Ages. There will be Bach Passions in Gothenburg and Cavalli operas in Tallinn. There will be performances on the islands of Visby and Sardinia, at Bozar in Brussels and the Opera in Kyiv.

Could 2024’s Early Music Day also involve you? Most events on the day itself are organized individually by the wider early music community. Performers can register their event online while enthusiasts can use the interactive map to find live performances happening near them, anywhere in Europe (earlymusicday.eu).

All that is surrounded by a comprehensive lineup of broadcasts, master-classes, workshops and conferences and enlivened by spontaneous performances, come-and-perform events and contributions from individuals, ensembles, libraries and museums. Use the hashtag #earlymusicday to find out what’s happening, share your own performance or experience one of a multitude of performances being shared for free online.

EMD’s 2024 ambassador, Dorothee Oberlinger, who has made an exclusive playlist for Gramophone – see below (photo: Stefan Gloede)

As in the last few years, this year’s event will be surrounded by a virtual festival running from 18-22 March, which will showcase the very best performances from REMA members online, as curated by EMD’s 2024 ambassador, Dorothee Oberlinger. The recorder player and conductor, whose recordings have been regularly lauded by Gramophone over the past decade, has worked with many of the great early music groups of our time not least her own Ensemble 1700.

‘Ultimately, with our passion for Early Music, I believe we are all ambassadors for our cause,’ says Oberlinger. ‘We are musicians, teachers, musicologists, ensembles, festival organizers, enthusiasts and connoisseurs around the world. What drives us is the ever-changing mystery of a present touching and gripping interpretation. Early Music and historically informed performance practice now stand for an attitude and approach and there is an unbroken hype about Early Music.’

Expect a little more hype than normal on March 21 and on the surrounding days, when Europe links arms in celebration of Early Music. Everybody is invited.

Find out more about Early Music Day 2024: earlymusicday.eu

Dorothee Oberlinger’s Playlist

1) Scheidt Galliard Battaglia

The wonderful album concludes with the Galliard Battaglia by Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654), organist of the Moritzkirche in Halle and Germany's most famous expert on organ playing and organ building at the time. It is a battle with many diminutions or ‘chopping up note values into large-scale passaggi or ornaments’, a common improvisation technique in the Renaissance and early Baroque periods.

2) Solage Fumeux fume par fumée

Frans Bruggen, Kees Boeke, Walter van Hauwe: a legendary trio in search of the sounds of a distant and foreign world.

3) Oberlinger/Mönkemeyer Dance for Two

There is no duo repertoire for flute and viola ... so Nils Mönkemeyer and I created it for ourselves! Konstantia Gourzi has contributed two new compositions.

4) Beethoven Symphony No 2 – Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Nikolaus Harnoncourt

I really like Harnoncourt's interpretation of the wonderful Second Symphony. The sense of great development, the bite, the dynamic power, but still with a Viennese lightness and a lot of wit.

5) Handel Water Music, Suite No 1, HWV 348

Dmitry Sinkovsky, the Russian countertenor, violinist and conductor, has produced a wonderful recording of Handel's Water Music and Fireworks Music with B'Rock. Virtuosic, imaginative and extravagant.

6) JS Bach Cantata No 170, BWV 1070, Vergnügte Ruh.

This is how Bach composes the state of heavenly peace. And later he drastically depicts what the world sounds like as a house of sin when God has gone astray. For example in the aria ‘Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen’.

7) Ekseption Air

Ekseption was a symphonic rock band from the Netherlands. They are best known for their arrangement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. It is the beautiful interpretation of Bach's Air from the Orchestral Suite in D major in the form of jazz/rock!

Find out more about Early Music Day 2024: earlymusicday.eu

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