Frances Blaker, Festival director
Central Program classes run both weeks of the Amherst Early Music Festival, August 7-14, and 14-21.
The Central Program is the heart of the Festival. It is the largest and most varied program we offer, with classes available for most early music instruments, and music ranging from Medieval to Baroque. You can choose the combination of classes that works for you -- perfect if, like some of our students, you sing or dance and play an instrument or two. Play in consorts of like or mixed instruments, investigate a new repertory, take a dance class, or begin a new instrument. We also offer a unique program in early notation for all levels starting with absolute beginner. Pitch is A=440, unless otherwise stated.
You will be asked to fill out a short form about your musical skills and background and to make three ranked choices for each class period (1 or 2 for late morning.)
*If you are in Baroque Academy, Ensemble Singing Intensive, there's no need to choose classes, your daily schedule is set. If you are in the Choral Workshop, you may choose a 4th period class. If you are in New London Assembly, and would like to take a music class, you may use this form to choose a class.
Audit* a Master Class! In a Master Class, students come prepared to perform a piece they have been working on, whether solo or with continuo. Each student gets a turn or two to perform in class, receiving critique from the instructor. Students who choose to audit the class are passive members of the class, listening to all sessions and taking notes for their own future practice. This is a very valuable learning opportunity: one learns not just the nuts and bolts of playing a particular piece, but also things that come up about the art of performance, about historical practices (bowing, articulation, ornamentation, and the like), repertoire, and more. See instrument or voice sections for Master Class details. Note that some Baroque Academy Master Classes are open to Central Program participants with permission of the instructor.
*The AEMF schedule makes great demands on time and energy. Workshop burnout can be a real problem. Many students leave one period free to allow sufficient time to practice, rest, recreate, and integrate what they have learned. Please also note that you may audit any class as an alternative to playing every period of the day.
We are excited to offer a Medieval Track during week 2 of the Amherst Summer Festival, which will allow students to create their entire daily schedule choosing from repertoire topics and technique sessions dedicated to their instrument and/or voice entirely focused on music before 1500. A practical exploration of medieval music is always closely linked with inquiries into performance practice, including instrument iconography, modes of musical transmission, memorization and improvisation, ornamentation, medieval music theory, and even gaining a sense of how medieval European society was structured, and in what ways this structure in turn influenced the musical practice at the time. In short, a week-long immersion into medieval music practice, guided by a wonderful faculty of leading experts in their field, lets you step back in time and bring to vibrant life sounds and songs from the distant past.
Scheduled Classes run Monday through Friday, with four class periods per day. Tuition for 4 class periods per week is $675. Part time tuition (2 class periods) is $425. Register with a tuition deposit for part time tuition.
In the evening there are lectures, concerts, madrigal singing in the courtyard, English country dancing, drop-in playing sessions, the AEM Auction, and socializing with early music enthusiasts from all over the world. Saturday is a day of rehearsals and concerts, including student concerts featuring music prepared in class.