Emily Eagen talks about singing ealry chamber music and starting the new Ensemble Singing Intensive for the 2011 Amherst Early Music Festival.
Spurred on by the ever-industrious Loren Ludwig, we've managed to make a long-held dream a reality: an intensive ensemble singing workshop at Amherst Early Music. This is truly going to be an exciting summer, with an incredibly faculty line up and an eager crop of partcipants. As a singer who finds myself equally occupied with solo and ensemble singing in my daily life (occupied? more like, addicted!), I have long hoped that we could build a program at AEM that allows singers to come and experience the joys of one-on-a-part singing in an intensive program. And how better to do this than in a beautiful summer location, surrounded by some of the best musicians in the field, with nothing more to do than make ensemble music with other singers 24/7?
This new program, called ESI, seems like a natural outgrowth of the music-making that is already happening at Amherst Early Music. Those of us on staff at Amherst have often found ourselves up to our ears (pun intended) in vocal polyphony, as we learn works for the week's lecture or for the faculty concerts. Additionally, the festival participants who pass by the concert hall before the evening's concerts usually stop by and sing a few madrigals outside, with a circle of enthusiastic singers that usually grows in numbers throughout the week. Also, we singers hear tell of small gatherings here and there of recorder, shawm, and viol players sneaking off to gather in lounges and read through facsimiles late at night, and wonder why we can't get in on the fun. In all these ways, ensemble singing is bubbling beneath the surface of Amherst Early Music. So. ..why not make it official? With ESI, we hope that a new space will open up for high-level amateur or emerging professional singers from around the country (heck, the world!) to come and have a great time connecting as musicians, sharpening their chops, and joining in on all the fun that is Amherst Early Music.