Stay Connected With the Music We Love

What Are We Listing To?

Follow our monthly playlist – “Not Just Early Music” on Spotify to hear what Early Music Seattle Staff & Board members have in their current rotation of musical favorites.

August 2023:

Gus Denhard:

My own experiments with lute family instruments have taken me to the electric oud, and from there to much curiosity about Seattle’s historic punk and grunge scenes.  I’m really impressed with a local band, Black Ends, fronted by Nicolle Swims, a classically trained electric guitarist, singer, and deep thinker.  Her trio has coined it’s own new genre, gunk-pop, and combine a kind of precision and freedom I rarely hear outside of classical and jazz.

Ann Stickney

My musical tastes have always been broad.  My Mom loved jazz piano (Art Tatum) and my Dad loved Dukes of Dixieland and Benny Goodman.  When we were kids, my Mom would play Sousa marches at the highest possible volume to get us up in the morning. When I got a little older my Grandmother and I would ride the South Shore train into Chicago to attend musicals.  Bless all of them for my varied musical interests.

My playlist just skips across the Lake of Music.  I was a fan of Tracy Chapman early in her career and find Luke Comb’s cover of Fast Car just as fun to listen to.  Seeing it rise to the top of the country charts is wonderful.

Saffire The Uppity Blues Women started in Chicago in the mid 80’s and are just plain fun.  I could listen to Bonnie Raitt all day long her father John starred in many of the musicals I listened to early on. All the others are just pieces that make me feel good, cause me to reflect or just make me think. (most of the time while sing along)

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen is one of the most moving pieces of music and I have at least 10 different versions saved.  The Pentatonix is just one of many.

Byrd Ensemble

“…the clear, fresh voices of the Byrd Ensemble, an American group with a strong background in Renaissance music, mean that the dissonances and their consequent resolutions…are brought into focus in a truly remarkable way”

Medieval Melodies

Medieval music is the sacred and secular music composed during the Middle Ages, which covers a huge stretch of time, from A.D. 476, following the fall of the Roman Empire, to the start of the Renaissance in the 14th and 15th century. Enjoy the following music which at times can be quite haunting.

Rachell Ellen Wong

There is no better way to introduce a musician than with their music. We are delighted to present some past performances of Rachell Ellen Wong, Seattle Baroque Orchestra’s concert master for EMS’s 2023-24 season.

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons – Winter / Rachell Ellen Wong & Seattle Symphony
Beethoven’s Sonata no. 9 (Kreutzer/Bridgetower) for violin and piano
Works by Tartini and Biber
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier De Saint Georges: Violin Concerto Op. 8 No. 2 in G major
Tartini: Violin Sonata in G Minor “The Devil’s Trill” Rachell Ellen Wong, baroque violin

Ronnie Malley

Ronnie Malley is a multi-instrumentalist musician, actor, producer, and educator. With a background in Global Music and Performance Studies, Ronnie has collaborated with artists internationally and has composed and consulted for numerous cultural music projects in film and theater. Ronnie is scheduled to perform as part of EMS’ 2023/24 season on October 22, 2023.

randal bays

“Randal Bays is one of the few Americans to have mastered the complex art of traditional Irish fiddling.” – Gearoid O hAllmhurain (author of “A Pocket History of Irish Traditional Music”)

Randal Bays is an American born, Irish style fiddler who brings power and passion to the old tradition. He’s well known on both sides of the Atlantic for his fiery fiddling and his devotion to the traditional style of playing. He has a special love for the fiddle traditions of Counties Clare and Galway, where he’s spent many a night playing tunes with the masters of that intricate music.

Sea Shanties

Sea shanties are a type of collective folk song, generally performed on ships by fishermen, merchant sailors or whalers. These songs were sung to accompany the heavy, repetitive tasks of sail-hoisting and deck-scrubbing. Shanties were ‘work songs’, whose steady beat helped unite a shipload of sailors in one rhythm, making lighter work of back-breaking chores.

Jordi Savall

A perennial favorite, Jordi Savall continues to amaze early music enthusiasts. This week’s playlist is solely for your enjoyment.

Jordi Savall is an exceptional figure in today’s music world. His career as a concert performer, teacher, researcher and creator of new musical and cultural projects, makes him one of the principal architects of the current revaluation of historical music. Read more on Savall’s website…


The Baroque period (1600 to 1750) saw the creation of tonality. During this period, composers and performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation, made changes in musical notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques.

Baroque music is known to release dopamine which is the body’s natural happy chemical that improves a person’s mood, and also blocks the release of stress. Studies on music and concentration have concluded that Baroque music is a particularly useful study music. Since Baroque music generally travels within 50 to 80 beats per minute, it “stabilizes mental, physical, and emotional rhythms,” which creates a strong mental environment for studying. (A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness.)

Afro-Peruvian music

Musical instruments of Peru.

Afro-Peruvian music is a type of Latin American music first developed in Peru by enslaved black people from West Africa, where it is known as música criolla. The genre is a mix of West African and Spanish music. 

Brandenburg Concertos

In case you missed or loved this concert from our 2021-22 season by the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, we once again celebrate the music of Bach. Enjoy this playlist that stitches together all six Brandenburg Concertos from almost twenty different recordings.

Bach’s Keyboard

J. S. Bach began his musical career playing the violin and the harpsichord under the instruction of his father Johann Ambrosius. His uncle, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him how to play the organ. Bach became extraordinarily capable with playing these instruments. Enjoy!

Lute Music

Lute Painting

This compilation consists of pieces by famous composers such as John Dowland, Andrei Krylov, Edward Martin,  and many more. Enjoy the peaceful music of the lute.


Celebrating the new season with these selections by Bach, Buxtehude, Mozart, and many others, selected for their associations with Eastertide or because they inspire hope and rebirth ushered in by spring.  

Didem Basar

Explore the music of Turkish kanun player and composer based in Montreal, Canada whose aim is to create a dialogue between traditional Turkish music and Western classical music. Didem is a member of Constantinople who will be performing at Town Hall Seattle, April 23. Enjoy the playlist that will have you traveling to a different part of the world!


Celebrating Early Women Composers

March is Women’s History Month!

Hildegard von Bingen, Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre are only few of the women’s composers that lightened the European early music repertoire. For the Women’s History Month, we celebrate their lives with a dedicated playlist you cannot miss! 

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
Not only a prolific compose, Hildegard was a writer, mystic and visionary. As a Benedictine Abbess, she founded two monasteries. One of her compositions, the Ordo Virtutum, is the oldest surviving morality play. It features melodies for the human soul and 16 virtues, but the Devil for once doesn’t get any of the best tunes – he has a speaking role.

Francesca Caccini (1587-1640)

Singer, lutenist, poet and teacher, Caccini was the daughter of the great Renaissance composer, Giulio Caccini. She became one of the most influential female European composers but very little of her music survives. Her stage work, ‘La liberazione di Ruggiero’, is considered to be the first opera by a woman.

Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)

Strozzi was said to be ‘the most prolific composer – man or woman – of printed secular vocal music in Venice’ in the middle of the 17th century. Her unique output only contains secular vocal music, with the exception of just one volume of sacred songs. The large majority of her works were written for soprano.

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729)

Jacquet de la Guerre was a child prodigy and had the privilege of performing a number of harpsichord works for the Sun King, Louis XIV. As a teenager, she was accepted as a musician for the French court. While most of her works are for chamber ensembles (she was an early champion of the trio sonata), she did compose two remarkable stage works: a lost ballet (Les jeux à l’honneur de la victoire, 1691) and an opera (Céphale de Procris, 1694), believed to be the first opera by a woman in France.



Celtic Music

This weekend we are premiering two new online projects, Monteverdi’s Ballo delle ingrate and Mother and Son, a commissioned concert of Irish early music and poetry. We offer these selections for further listening. Enjoy.

Buena Vista Social Club

Although not technically known as Early Music, Buena Vista Social Club’s music is rooted in the past. The roots of most Afro-Cuban musical forms lie in the cabildos, self-organized social clubs for the African slaves, and separate cabildos for separate cultures. The cabildos were formed mainly from four groups: the Yoruba (the Lucumi in Cuba); the Congolese (Palo in Cuba); Dahomey (the Fon or Arará).

Buena Vista Social Club is an ensemble of Cuban musicians established in 1996. The project was organized by World Circuit executive Nick Gold, produced by American guitarist Ry Cooder and directed by Juan de Marcos González. They named the group after the homonymous members’ club in the Buenavista quarter of Havana, a popular music venue in the 1940s. Continue reading on Wikipedia…

Visit Buena Vista Social Club’s website


The music of Cuba, including its instruments, performance, and dance, comprises a large set of unique traditions influenced mostly by west African and European music. Cuban music is often considered one of the richest and most influential regional music in the world.

Simone and Bach

Nina Simone

“Once I understood Bach’s music, I wanted to be a concert pianist. Bach made me dedicate my life to music, and it was that teacher who introduced me to his world”

– Nina Simone

Venice Carnival

The Venice Carnival began in 1162 in celebration of the Venice Republic’s victory over its enemy: the Patriarch or Aquileia. The people of Venice gathered in Saint Mark’s Square (San Marco) to dance and celebrate their victory. Ever since then, the victory was celebrated in the streets of Venice. The celebration takes place over ten days in which people dress up and take part in organized parades or simple processions on the street. The costumes are seventeenth-century Venetian dresses, very much as if they were from a painting by Canaletto.

Read: The History of Venice Carnival

Charles Ignatius Sancho 

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) was a composer, virtuoso violinist, champion fencer and army leader. A contemporary of Mozart, he is known for being one of the first classical composers of African ancestry. He wrote two symphonies, several concertos, much chamber music and at least six operas. Saint-Georges was born in Guadeloupe to a wealthy plantation owner and his wife’s African slave. He was educated in France and became the leader of a good Parisian orchestra, performing his concertos with them. During the French Revolution, he served as a colonel of the Légion St.-Georges, the first all-black regiment in Europe. Throughout his life Bologne pursued both fencing and music which was supported and funded by his father, despite being of mixed heritage by a woman who wasn’t his wife.



Since the Enlightenment, the term Celtic has been applied to a wide variety of peoples and cultural traits present and past. Today, Celtic is often used to describe people of the Celtic nations (the Bretons, the Cornish, the Irish, the Manx, the Scots and the Welsh) and their respective cultures and languages.


The unique sound of the Baroque violin results both from how it is built and how it is played. Strings made from gut (called catgut, from sheep) give a more mellow, less strident tone quality.

Kelzmer Music

A playlist covering klezmer music old and  new, traditional and modern, European, American, and Israeli. Read Peter Lippman’s article, On The Confluence Of Klezmer And Moldovan Music: A Short Review Of Some Of The Writings Of Walter Zev Feldman.

Music of Johann Georg Pisendel

Listen to a sampling of Johann Georg Pisendel’s music here on the EMS playlist. Then experience the joy of a live performance by the Seattle Baroque Orchestra performingSix Dresden ConcertosSaturday 21st at Benaroya Hall and Sunday, January 22nd at Town Hall. Would you rather say home, try a virtual option.

Seattle Baroque Orchestra

Don’t miss the Seattle Baroque Orchestra:Six Dresden Concertos, January 21 at Benaroya Hall and January 22 at Town Hall Seattle. Come celebrate Alexanders Weimann’s last directorial performance before leaving SBO to pursue other interests.


Music for the holidays 
Get in the spirit of the season with these selected pieces of Baroque, Medieval, and Renaissance music. Let the festivities begin!

Music for Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers, playing the game of dreidel, which is a betting game using spinning tops that is both interesting and fun, eating special holiday foods like latkes, and jelly-filled deep-fried donuts known as sufganiyot. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication,” and is named because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by the Selucids in 164 B.C.E., and is one of the happiest Jewish holidays of the year.


Infusion Baroque

Sallynee Amawat, Baroque violin; Rona Nadler, Harpsichord;
Alexa Raine-Wright, Baroque flute and recorder; Andrea Stewart, Baroque cello

Infusion Baroque draws new audiences to early music through a truly captivating concert experience, deftly combining seasoned musicianship with theatrical elements. Playing music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on historical instruments, the four women of Infusion Baroque enthrall audiences across North America with their creative and interactive programming. Continue reading…

Visit Infusion Baroque’s website

Music of Dresden

Dresden is a major European center for music, with a long tradition and one of the richest music landscapes in all of Germany. For centuries, the capital of Saxony drew well known musicians from around the world who played music for the royal court’s many events. Legendary composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Richard Strauss all visited or lived in Dresden. You can still feel their presence throughout the city—in famed concert venues like the Semperoper (Semper Opera House) and during the many music festivals staged each year.

Celebrating Alexander Weimann

Alexander Weimann, Music Director Seattle Baroque Orchestra

Alexander Weimann has been Music Director of Seattle Baroque Orchestra since 2015 and is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. This week’s playlist celebrates with a small sampling of this magnificent musician’s work. Don’t miss the last remaining opportunity to see Alexander Weimann direct the Seattle Baroque Orchestra before he leaves his role as Music Director after EMS’ 2022-23 season.  Read announcement.


Early Accordion

Accordions are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone type, referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist. Read more about the accordion below in Instrument of the Week.

Joseph Bologne – Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Five Facts About Joseph Bologne
Had a French and African heritage  Saint-Georges’ given name was Joseph Bologne, and he was born in the French colony of Guadeloupe to a wealthy planter and African slave. Once knighted, he took his father’s suffix “de Saint-Georges”, named after a plantation in Guadeloupe, to become known as “Chevalier de Saint-Georges”.

Was a virtuoso violinist and composer  It is assumed that violinist Antonio Lolli assisted with his violin technique and composer François-Joseph Gossec with composition. Bologne composed and published numerous operas, string quartets, concertos, and symphonies, from 1771-1779.

He commissioned and premiered Hadyn’s Paris Symphonies  Saint-Georges commissioned Joseph Haydn to write six symphonies for his orchestra—Le Concert Olympique. These compositions are best known as Haydn’s “Paris” symphonies and were premiered and conducted by Saint-Georges.

Was connected to Marie Antoinette – His name was put forward as a candidate for the director of the Paris Opera, but the Opera’s prima donnas went to Queen Marie Antoinette and rejected his candidacy (because they didn’t want to take orders from a “mulatto.”). But is said that Marie Antoinette may have performed with Bologne as his accompanist.

Was a renowned swordsman  Before he became known as a violin virtuoso, Saint-Georges was renowned as the greatest swordsman in Europe. He was once attacked by five anti-abolitionists and was able to fight all five and went on to perform in a concert with friends later that night.

Diabolus in Musica

Early Music Seattle: Diabolus in Musica

Ensemble Diabolus in Musica – Sanctus perpetuo
Teaser Chansons d’Al Andalus au Pays d’Oïl – Diabolus in Music

Sephardic Music

Sephardic music refers to the music of the Sephardic Jewish community. Sephardic Jews have a diverse repertoire of origins which center primarily around the Mediterranean basin. The music is best known for its beautiful love ballads with musical influences from Flamenco inflections to Arabic rhythms. Typical instruments include the lute or saz (Turkish lute) and frame drum or tambourine.

Early American Music

Early American music came from a diverse mix of peoples. European settlers and enslaved Africans brought musical traditions and sometimes instruments with them when they came to America. Music was used for many purposes, including for religion, in the military, and for dancing.

Diabolus in Musica

This week EMS introduces you to Diabolus in Musica. Early Music Seattle will be presenting this ensemble October 30 at Bastyr University Chapel.

Diabolus in Musica goes right to the heart of an exciting era of musical development when musicians were exploring the very essence of sound and the blending of sounds, rhythms and vocal timbres.
— Gramophone Magazine

View October 30 event on EMS website

Looking Back – EMS is Turning 45!
2017-18 Season

Jordi Savall, seven-string bass viol

Inspired by the world-renown artists on our 2017-18 Season including Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Rachel Barton Pine, Jordi Savall, and many more.

Looking Back

Alexander Weimann and Rachel Ellen Wong, 2021

As the 2021-22 season comes to a close and we prepare for the 2022-23 season, EMS is looking back, recognizing the incredible music that has been presented. In September, Early Music Seattle will be celebrating its 45th Season! We hope you enjoy and perhaps remember some of these performances from our archives. EMS thanks all of its loyal supporters for donating, attending concerts, and for engaging with early music. It certainly is something to celebrate!


European Folk Music

A loose playlist based on the indefinable category that is European folk music. Here you’ll find both familiar and unfamiliar sounds from across Europe, including every instrument and tradition mentioned in the accompanying article: Nordic drone zithers, Sami yoik chants, the fujara, and much more.


Celebrating Early Women Composers

As we prepare for EMS’ upcoming performance of For All Our Sisterswe continue to highlight women of early music. We hope you will join us at Town Hall this Sunday for an afternoon matinee. Buy tickets.

Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704)

At 16, Leonarda entered a convent where she stayed for the rest of her life. She was one of the most productive woman composers of her time, as well as a teacher for the other nuns. Her ‘Sonate da chiesa’ was historic in that it was an instrumental composition rather than vocal. She is one of only two Italian women known to have written instrumental music.

Comtessa de Dia or Beatriz de Dia (1140-1212)

Beatriz de Día or Countess of Day, was the most famous of the small group of troubadours who composed secular music in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Her manuscripts, poems and songs were well known in France and northern Italy, so it is assumed that she was a very famous and well-known troubadour in her time. Her song in Occitan A chantar m’er de so qu’eu no volria  is the only female troubadour piece whose music survives intact to date.

Anna Amalia of Prussia  (1723-1787)

Princess Anna’s older brother, Frederick the Great, is the one who’s remembered. The two shared a love of music despite the fact that their music-hating father forbade their musical studies. Amalia produced a small body of works. Her greatest contribution to music was actually her work as a collector and curator: she preserved more than 600 volumes of works by such greats as Bach, Handel and Telemann.


Selections for May 27, 2022

Late 4th century AD Mosaic of the Female Musicians from a Byzantine villa in Maryamin Syria

A playlist created by Peter Tracy that focuses on the earliest notated sources of keyboard music.


Selections for May 20, 2022

“Sometimes the most productive thing
you can do is relax”

~ Mark Black


Selections for May 13, 2022

Brandenburg Concertos
A playlist that stitches together all six Brandenburg Concertos from almost twenty different recordings. Enjoy!


Selections for April 29, 2022

Early Guitar
A playlist of guitar music from the origins of the instrument that compliments Peter Tracy’s article, The Early Guitar and the Art of Categories. Enjoy!

Selections for April 22, 2022

Mexican Baroque
Mexican Baroque refers to the baroque era during the Colonial Mexican period which lasted from 1521-1821 under ‘New Spain’. New Spain was the colonial territory of the Spanish Empire that comprised of Mexico, Central America, Southwestern and Central United States and Spanish Florida. While most of the music from this period has its European influence, a unique hybrid was created that incorporated Mexican percussive rhythms with sacred texts, often sung in Mexican.


A playlist centered around bells and their auditory landscape. Enjoy!

The Great Bell of the Great Lavra Bell Tower in Kiev, Ukraine. Click Image to listen.

Seattle Baroque Orchestra

Seattle Baroque Orchestra is a pocket orchestra comprised of leading-edge artists; it breathes new life into early music through innovative performances and uncommon collaborations. Enjoy!


Selections for April 1, 2022

Presenting Alexander Weimann
Music Director, harpsichord, and organ


Selections for March 25, 2022

A 1911 photograph showing a lirnyk and four bandurists

This week’s playlist is centered around all things kobzar, the traditional bards of Ukraine. Enjoy!


Selections for March 18, 2022

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!

This week, EMS takes a look at Celtic music in recognition of St. Patrick’s Day. Celtic music is defined as music that originates from the countries of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The people who live in these locations are known as Celts, which is how the music became known as Celtic music. This music is best described as a type of folk music with a distinctive music and lyrics. Enjoy!


Selections for March 11, 2022

Mechanical Instruments

A playlist created by Peter Tracy that compliments his above article, Mechanical Instruments and the Aesthetics of Human Performance. This week’s selection highlights music played on or written for self-playing, automatic, and mechanical instruments, from the carillon to the barrel organ and beyond. Enjoy!

Selections for March 4, 2022

This week we celebrate the music of Ukraine as the Ukrainian people fight for their freedom. Ukraine is rarely acknowledged as the musical heartland of the former Russian Empire, home to its first professional music academy, which opened in the mid-Eighteenth Century and produced numerous musicians and composers. It’s folk traditions are many and rich. Enjoy.

Selections for February 25, 2022

Each week during the month of February, Early Music Seattle celebrates the African American musical influences that comprise an essential part of our nation’s treasured cultural heritage. This week we hope your enjoy this varied sampling of black musicians.


Selections for February 18, 2022

Each week during the month of February, Early Music Seattle celebrates the African American musical influences that comprise an essential part of our nation’s treasured cultural heritage. This week we hope your enjoy this varied sampling of black musicians.

Selections for February 11, 2022

Each week during the month of February, Early Music Seattle celebrates the African American musical influences that comprise an essential part of our nation’s treasured cultural heritage. Enjoy!

Selections for February 4, 2022

February is Black History Month and EMS celebrates black musicians and composers who brought great music to the world and is still admired today. This week’s playlist highlights the music of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Enjoy!

Selections for January 28, 2022

This week’s selection highlights the sounds of the Baroque violin. Baroque violin playing has a gentler tone with hardly any vibrato. The complex nuances of bowing give it a sort of swelling-fading sound. Enjoy!

Early Music Seattle: Baroque Violin

Antonio Bertali: Ciaccona – Voices of Music; Alana Youssefian, baroque violin
Vivaldi: Concerto in D Major RV 212 “St. Antonio,” Alana Youssefian & Voices of Music
Ingrid Matthews: sonata duodecima by Isabella Leonarda

Selections for January 21, 2022

Alexander Weimann, Music Director Seattle Baroque Orchestra and Reginald Mobley, countertenorThis week’s selections include performances by the Seattle Baroque Orchestra. The Seattle Baroque Orchestra will be performing with countertenor, Reginald Mobley this Sunday, January 23 at Town Hall Seattle. Join us in person for our first live concert in a long time or purchase a virtual ticket to enjoy the music that keeps us connected.
Early Music Seattle: Seattle Baroque Orchestra
Seattle Baroque Orchestra and Whim W’him: Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater

Selections for January 14, 2022

This week’s selections include performances by Reginald Mobley. Noted for his “shimmering voice” (BachTrack), American countertenor Reginald Mobley is highly sought after for the baroque, classical and modern repertoire. Enjoy the music and consider attending his live performance next week at Town Hall. Virtual tickets are available as well.

Early Music Seattle: Reginald Mobley

A playlist to accompany Peter Tracy’s article which explores the contemporary resurgence of the countertenor voice type and the countertenor repertoire.
Early Music Seattle: The Countertenor

Selections for January 7, 2022

A 1789 painting of Sultan Selim III holding audience in front of the Gate of Felicity at Topkapi Palace

This week’s playlist compliments Peter Tracy’s article, Patronage, Professionalism, And Slavery: The Lives Of Musicians At The Ottoman Court which explores the music of the Ottoman court and its influences from around Asia and the Middle East.

Early Music Seattle: Ottoman Foundations

Selections for December 17, 2021

Baroque Cello
The Baroque cello is a featured instrument in Baroque music and is played by Andrea Stewart of Infusion Baroque which will premiere Entr’acte this Saturday at 7pm.

Early Baroque cellists mostly accompanied other Baroque instruments as a part of a continuo. As the Baroque era evolved, composers saw the cello’s potential as a featured instrument. Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli composed concertos and sonatas for the instrument, while J.S. Bach, Domenico Gabrielli, Francesco Geminiani, and Giovanni Bononcini created suites for solo cello. ENJOY!

Selections for December 10, 2021

Photo: Danylo Bobyk

Get a taste of the music performed by Infusion Baroque. EMS will present Entr’acte in the “The Virtual Concert Hall”, Saturday, December 18 at 7pm. Go to earlymusicseattle.org to view.

Selections for December 3, 2021

Early 20th century painting by Issachar Ber Ryback titled (Jewish) Wedding Ceremony

As a compliment to Peter Tracy’s article, enjoy this playlist covering klezmer music old and new, traditional and modern, European, American, and Israeli.

Early Music Seattle: Klezmer

Selections for November 19, 2021

Early American Music
This week, EMS shares music selections from Early American Music. During the earliest decades of the nation, virtually everyone heard, made, and moved to music. People sang privately to sooth their sorrows and in public to celebrate joyous events. Some worked to music, while others played. Some made a living playing music. Enjoy!

Early Music Seattle: Early American Music

Selections for November 12, 2021

Cecilia and Belgian Folk Music
by Dianne Siebold

This week we take a tour through the folk music of Belgium, in particular the work of Cecilia. The music of this Belgium-based trio isn’t easily categorized. You could say it’s music made for dancing with a traditional sound. Or perhaps folk dance music grounded by the drone of the hurdy-gurdy and bagpipes along with the pop of the accordion. No matter how you describe, their music gets your foot tapping.

They’re a contemporary group playing traditional instruments: Jan Leeflang on bagpipes and flute, Greet Wuyts on accordion, and Thomas Hoste on alto hurdy-gurdy.

These three musicians had known each other for years, often running into each other playing in folk clubs or dances. Then one summer evening they decided to join musical forces as Cecilia. And the rest is history, as they say.

If you like what you hear in the playlist, you can see them live in a virtual concert, Saturday, November 20 at 7pm. go to earlymusicseatle.org to view.

Selections for November 5, 2021

Many of us think of the accordion as part of the oompah band during Oktoberfest celebrations or as an instrument in lighthearted German polka music. But the accordion wears many hats, including that of Bach, Scarlatti, Byrd, and others. Explore the playlist and videos below to discover the sounds of the under-appreciated accordion.

Selections for October 29, 2021

Burmese music includes a variety of folk traditions, and the traditional folk ensemble typically used in nat pwe (Burmese theatre, art, and festivals) is called the hsaing waing. It is mainly made up of different gongs and drums, the well-known saungas well as other instruments, depending on the nature of performance. Enjoy!

Selections for October 22, 2021

Below you’ll find a playlist in celebration of Afghan music’s past, present, and future, from Pashtun traditional music to Hazaragi language pop and Afghanistan’s first rock band. We can only hope this wide range of music will continue to be heard, in Afghanistan and throughout the world.

In anticipation of our premiere of I’incoronazione di Poppea, we would like to share a selection of other vocal works by Claudio Monteverdi.  Enjoy these great performances!

Just for fun!

Selections for October 1, 2021

This week the playlist is loosely based on the indefinable category that is European folk music.
Here you’ll find both familiar and unfamiliar sounds from across Europe, including every instrument and tradition mentioned in the accompanying article: Nordic drone zithers, Sami yoik chants, the fujara, and much more.

Selections for September 10, 2021

Special Note: The Taliban have destroyed instruments of the National Music Institute — where the country’s first all-female orchestra ‘Zohra’ (named after the music goddess in Persian writings), once practiced.

Selections for September 3, 2021

This week’s playlist was created by Mauricio Roman to compliment the article, Early Music in Florence during the Pandemic: A Conversation with Fabio Lombardo, from L’Homme Armé. Enjoy!

Selections for August 27, 2021

Canons New and Old
This week’s playlist was created by Peter Tracy

Like the mainstream classical canon, the music that is celebrated as part of these more niche canons also carries with it sets of ideals, ideals which form the specific reasoning or cultural context behind a work’s inclusion in a university course, article, or concert program. At times, the differing ideals and histories which are expressed within different canons can result in misunderstanding or even contempt between adherents of different styles. Yet there is still a certain overlap between the worlds of specifically early and new music because of their position close to, yet outside the classical mainstream. Below, you’ll find a playlist examining the ways in which more recent composers have reinterpreted and reclaimed the musical legacy of early music as their own, whether it be technically, formally, reverently, or sarcastically.

Selections for August 13, 2021

This week, as a follow-up to Peter Tracy’s article, The Music of Islamic Iberia and Its Living Descendants we present to you The Music of Al-Andalus. Enjoy!

Selections for July 30, 2021

This week, EMS presents some of Seattle Baroque Orchestra’s extensive discography. We are looking forward to SBO’s upcoming 2022 season and hope that you take the time to learn more about Seattle Baroque Orchestra Reimagined. Enjoy the music!

Selections for July 16, 2021

An Early Music Seattle favorite, Jordi Savall is hailed as one of the greatest living forces performing early and world music around the globe. He has devoted his life to rediscovering, researching and sharing forgotten musical treasures. EMS is proud to present Jordi Savall in March of next year for a live concert (yes, live!) at Town Hall. For now, enjoy the recordings and videos below.

Selections for July 2, 2021

This week we are giving you just a taste of American music from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, touching on everything from marching songs, shape note music, political commentary, songs of the Civil War, to the parlor songs of Stephen Foster. We have omitted the music of the minstrel show for now, substituting it with the redemptive music of American songwriter Rhiannon Giddens.

Selections for June 25, 2021

In honor of violinist and former Tafelmusik director, Jeanne Lamon, we present a sampling of the fabulous music of Tafelmusik. Tafelmusik explores issues of historical performance practice, and have developed a sound and style appropriate to the repertoire they perform. Listen and celebrate a life well lived. Thank you Jeanne.

Tafelmusik website


Selections for June 18, 2021

Danielle Sampson and Aaron Grad

This week we bring you the music of Aaron Grad. Aaron is a composer and program note writer based in Seattle. He created the electric theorbo concerto Strange Seasons for the Seattle Baroque Orchestra in 2017, and his cantata that retells the Sirens myth from a feminist perspective, Honey-sweet we sing for you, will appear on the Early Music Seattle program For All Our Sisters in 2021-22. Aaron is also artistic director of Many Messiahs, a diverse reframing of Handel’s Messiah in service of racial justice.


Selections for June 11, 2021

This week’s playlist was created by Antonio Gómez, percussionist, educator, and presenter of the series Deep Roots, New Branches, designed to enrich your understanding of the cultural interconnectedness that forms the foundations of the world’s great music traditions.  When people moved – through forced or chosen migrations, along trade routes, or because of conquest and war – they brought their ideas, religions, and music. Let Antonio be your guide!


Selections for June 4, 2021

The Keyboard Music of J.S. Bach
As we explore the harpsichord in this issue of Clef Notes, we hope you will enjoy a selection of the world’s great Bach interpreters. Featured in this list are Wanda Landowska, Jory Vinikour, Mahan Esfahani, and Seattle Baroque Orchestra Music Director Alexander Weimann.


Selections for May 28, 2021

This week we would like to honor the contributions of Salamone Rossi (ca. 1570-1630), one of the most well known Jewish composers of the early Baroque period. His career as a violinist was centered in Mantua, which was ruled in those times by the Gonzaga family. Rossi is known for his innovation of applying monodic style to the Trio Sonata form, and for using the new Baroque conventions in his Hebrew service music. Rossi suffered persecution because of his faith. Jews were forced to live in the ghetto in Mantua, but Rossi was excused from wearing the yellow badge that identified him as a Jew, probably because of his high position at court.


Selections for May 21, 2021

Two weeks ago we published Musical Thought In Ancient Greece by Cristina Serra de Torres. We follow up today with a playlist of music from ancient Greece, some original, some inspired by the few surviving sources.  Enjoy!


Selections for May 14, 2021

This week, Antonio Gómez, presenter of EMS’s Deep Roots, New Branches series provides the playlist to correspond with his last talk, Indomitable Spirit: Music of the African Diaspora in the Americas. Antonio takes us on a musical journey where we will discover the African roots of the banjo, music from the Mississippi Delta to Salvador and beyond.


Selections for May 7, 2021

This playlist corresponds to the Deep Roots, New Branches programs, “Saffron & Honey,” and “Voices of Longing”. It examines the intersection of Muslim, Jewish and Christian cultures in medieval Spain and its impact on European troubadours.


Selections for April 23, 2021

Following up on Mauricio Roman’s article, here is a further exploration of music for the Trecento, a period of vigorous activity in 14th-century Italy in the arts, including painting, architecture, literature, and of course music. We hope you enjoy the wide range of expression of this early flowering of the Italian Renaissance, which ranges from passionate vocal music to virtuosic, complex instrumental arrangements.

As a compliment to Antonio Gomez’s Deep Roots, New Branches series we explore the sounds of Latin American music.


Selections for April 9, 2021

It is impossible to imagine early music without Italy and its tremendous innovations and influences. Throughout the Renaissance and Baroque period, Italy dominated the European cultural scene. The Renaissance movement began in Florence, and spread throughout Europe to influence entire generations of musicians, architects and painters. EMS continues to explore the music of Italy with this playlist and with our upcoming performance on April 17, of the Madrigal Comedy: L’Amfiparnaso, written by Orazio Vecchi in 1597.

La dolcezza della grande musica! (The sweetness of great music!)


Selections for April 2, 2021

We hope you enjoy these selections by Bach, Buxtehude, Mozart, and many others, selected for their associations with Eastertide or because they inspire hope and rebirth ushered in by spring.  Do you have favorites you would like us to share? Let us know!


Selections for March 26, 2021

This week we will explore the music of Francesca Caccini. (See blog post written by Mauricio Roman.)


Selections for March 19, 2021

This week we are sharing the music of the Italian Renaissance. The Italian Renaissance (another word for “rebirth”) happened between the 14th century and the 17th century, and ushered in a new way of thinking about the world and man’s place in it. One major reason the Renaissance began in Italy is linked to geography. The city-states of Italy, positioned on the Mediterranean Sea, were centers for trade and commerce, the first port of call for both goods and new ideas from the East. The Italian Renaissance has a reputation for its achievements in painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, philosophy, science, technology, and exploration.


Selections for March 12, 2021

This weekend we are premiering two new online projects, Monteverdi’s Ballo delle ingrate and Mother and Son, a commissioned concert of Irish early music and poetry. We offer these selections for further listening. Enjoy.


Selections for March 5, 2021

As the days get longer and the temperature’s warm, it is easy to feel the season is changing. EMS invites you to relax and enjoy the music of spring and nature.


Selections for February 26, 2021

To keep in step with our upcoming performance, Accademia del Piacere Presents: Rediscovering Spain tomorrow night, we encourage you to explore the sounds of early Spain. EMS hopes you enjoy these musical selections and add this music to your collections.


Selections for February 19, 2021

Continuing on the theme from the above article, Celebrating Venice at Carnival Time, we invite you to enjoy and reflect on the selections below.

Vivaldi’s concert in G minor for two violins
Marcello’s concert in D minor for oboe and orchestra

Early Music Seattle: Celebrating Venice at Carnival Time


Selections for February 12, 2021

In celebration of Valentine’s Day we present to you songs of love. The best love songs say something that we wish we could express or give us a taste of what we desire. It’s likely that these songs will make you feel something such as happiness, longing, and even sadness. These are the same feelings that sometimes surround loving someone. With an open heart, enjoy the music.

The Flowering of Love – Beautiful Arias and Sacred Songs of the Baroque

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Love Songs by Monteverdi and Barbara Strozzi – APOLLO’S FIRE, Erica Schuller, Brian Giebler
Say Love if Ever Thou Didst Find – La Nef with Michael Slattery
Sad Medieval Love Song for Flute and Lute


Selections for February 5, 2021

By Aly Gardener

We know that Facebook tends to give us a good dose of whatever topics we are ‘liking’ or whatever pages we follow (oh look, EMS is here), and that’s certainly true of this author who is experiencing a – surprisingly good – social media infusion of ancient history, early classical and traditional music, and (sometimes) the Celtic world! In case you’re missing out on this vibrant intersection, here are some especially enjoyable offerings that popped up recently. And keep your ears tuned – we will have much, much more of this wonderful goodness.

“The audio recording of “Brigid,” a groundbreaking program featuring the rare and wonderful plainchant for the matins office for the Feast of Saint Brigid on February 1. This music is unique to only two manuscripts from 15th-century Ireland, currently housed at Trinity College Dublin. Eya has crafted a “contemporary matins” program, mixing the medieval Irish chants with ancient and modern blessings, poems, stories, and songs in honor and praise of Brigid.”
Brigid (Encore Performance) | Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music
You can find Eya on FaceBook at Eya: Ensemble for Medieval Music

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon’s work just keeps on astonishing us, however we come back to this recording today because she now lives in Ireland and because the name “Rhiannon” is from Welsh mythology, and “Black is the Color” is a traditional ballad that originated in Scotland – and here has been given a pivot into Black History, and this is Black History month. We bow down to all points of the compass!
Rhiannon Giddens – Black Is the Color [Official Music Video]
You can follow Rhiannon Giddens on FaceBook at Rhiannon Giddens | Facebook

Violinist Miguel Berkemeier and the band Deltas, performing in honor of Imbolc – an ancient Gaelic festival marking the beginning of Spring – and St. Bridget’s Day. Gorgeous imagery of nature and growth – the ancients surely relaxed to these tunes!
Music for Imbolc – Brigid’s Day Songs (Celtic Festival)

If Irish myth and archaeology intrigue you, here is the FaceBook page for the people who recently discovered a whole new set of prehistoric burial structures in the Boyne Valley, Ireland: Mythical Ireland | Facebook

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Traditional and Folk Imbolc Music
Early Music Seattle: Baroque Relaxation

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Early Music Seattle: Gaelic Spring
Early Music Seattle: Celtic traditions


Selections for January 29, 2021

By Aly Gardner

Looking at the current storms along the west coast of the US, it’s hard to imagine why the Pacific Ocean got a name that means calm and tranquil. Sometimes the Pacific plays a Baroque berceuse, sometimes a comforting Concerto, but often it’s performing a full Orlando furioso. Is it a coincidence that a study has been conducted into how Baroque music could reduce the impact of weather variables on Montessori students and another found that Baroque music may improve work-lives for radiologists? We think Baroque music helps us to weather anything. (And if you are engaged in research studies of your own, please do share the results with us!)

Here is a selection with which to begin your experiments:

A. Vivaldi concerto for two mandolins G-dur I-II-III

Henry Purcell – Dioclesian, “Triumph Victorious Love” by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Nikšić Guitar Festival, Montenegro 2020 ©️ – Miroslav Tadić & Yvette Holzwarth – living room concert

Videos from Pacific Baroque Orchestra

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Pacific Baroque Orchestra

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Pacific Baroque Orchestra


Selections for January 22, 2021

By Aly Gardner

This week we are concluding our mini grand tour via YouTube. With so many visually and audially delicious treats to choose from, this is only a taster from the great banquet table! If it leaves you pining for a visit to Europe and beyond, you might like to take a look at Travel Videos: All “Rick Steves’ Europe” TV Episodes – or explore https://radio.garden/, where you can listen to live radio from different countries by rotating the globe image onscreen.

Tico Tico No Fuba

A marvelously playful performance by a group named Russian Renaissance, performing on balalaika, balalaika contrabasso, domra alto and button accordion.  All we can say is, “Браво!”
Tico Tico No Fuba- Zequinha de Abreu, Stefano Bollani, Niccolò Paganinii

A filmatic experience, performed by Massimiliano Martinelli and Fulvia Mancini at the Villa Bombrini & Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, Italy.
Tu Sei (by Ludovico Einaudi) for Two Cellos – Mr & Mrs Cello

The Academy of Ancient Music performing Bach’s St. John Passion at the 2019 Milton Abbey International Music Festival, in Dorset, England.
AAM & VOCES8 | JS Bach, St. John Passion | Barnaby Smith [LIVE, 4K]

Just try to keep your feet still while listening to Apollo’s Fire performing traditional Irish “Farewell to Ireland” and traditional Appalachian “Highlander’s Farewell!” They play a range of historical instruments including fiddle, Irish flute, Scottish small pipes, hammered dulcimer, baroque guitar, cello and harpsichord at the Aldeburgh Festival, in Suffolk, UK.
Farewell to Ireland (from “Sugarloaf Mountain”) – Apollo’s Fire LIVE at the Snape Proms, UK

The Scots Baroque quartet perform a selection of Scottish traditional and Baroque music on recorders, violin, cello, theorbo and guitar.
Scots Baroque – #Pianodrome Sessions – Support the Pianodrome

The Whistling Badger pub

Talented local musicians perform traditional airs at this Welsh Pub. Playing flute, fiddle, mandolin, clarinet, tin whistle, guitar, Jew’s Harp and bodhran. Well, that’s been a lot of work, time for some refreshment!
The WHISTLING BADGER pub (Mid Wales) | Traditional music session

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Early Music Seattle: Rachel Barton Pine Music

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Early Music Seattle: Rhiannon Giddens


Selections for January 15, 2021

By Aly Gardner

This week we are continuing our mini grand tour via YouTube. If you have requests for a country to explore, please let us know!

Documentary of the concert “Peace of Savoye” given by Les Pages and the Symphonists of the Chapel Royale. Performing in the Palace of Versailles, France.
Les voix des champs de Versailles, Olivier Schneebeli, Hélène Bruce, les Pages du CMBV

Led by Turkey’s leading Harpist, Şirin Pancaroğlu, who has been praised by the Washington Post as a “major talent of international caliber,” and who helped to rediscover the historical Turco-Ottoman harp called the “çeng.”
Şirin Pancaroğlu & Bora Uymaz Ensemble Turksh Music Concert

Performed by the Netherlands Bach Society, with violin and direction by Shunske Sato.
Vivaldi – Summer from The Four Seasons | Netherlands Bach Society

Views of Portuguese baroque architecture, gardens and artworks, accompanying Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, performed by the Orquesta Sinfónica Clásica de Baviera.
O barroco em Portugal

Sung by Countertenor Pieter De Praetere with the Kortrijks Baroque Orchestra, performing in Saint Martin’s church Kortrijk, Belgium.
Qui Sedes – aria from Missa in B – J.S. Bach (2017)

If you’re feeling chilly, cozy-up with a video of Africa’s own classical music!
African Classical Music Ensemble

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Rumbarroco – I’ve found a new baby: Baroque meets Afro-Latin Jazz

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Rumbarroco – I’ve found a new baby: Baroque meets Afro-Latin Jazz

La Donna Musicale / RUMBARROCO

Selections for January 8, 2021

By Aly Gardner

To welcome the adventures of the new year, we’re starting a mini grand tour of European Baroque, courtesy of YouTube. The following videos were chosen for their visual interest and the appropriateness of their setting, as well as for the beauty of their music. Out in the world, anything can happen, and frequently does, but here in the EMS playlist, only pleasant surprises await  explorers, and travel is always possible!

Vivaldi Gloria at La Pieta, Venice
A BBC Four recreation of Vivaldi’s Gloria, filmed at the Ospedale della Pieta in Venice, Italy.

Ausschnitt: Virtuose Kostbarkeiten des deutschen Barock
Excerpt from a livestream concert of German Baroque music, at Gallneukirchen, Austria.

Barockmusik zum Advent – Baroque Music for Christmas Time
A Swiss TV Production for Christmas Time, with documentary-feel footage as well as concert video.

Barokken i Danmark
A short film showing a selection of Baroque architecture and interiors in Denmark. The recordings come from Rosenborg, Clausholm and Møntmestergården in The Old Town in Aarhus.

Jordi Savall: Lachrimae Caravaggio (Hespèrion XXI)
Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI –  Lachrimae Caravaggio – Musical Europe in the Time of Caravaggio. From the Maguelone Festival in France, 2012.

FiBO – Finnish Baroque Orchestra: Henry Purcell
Concert of works by Henry Purcell, filmed live in Vanha kirkko (Helsinki Old Church), Finland.

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Venetian Women: Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat

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Pacific Baroque Orchestra

Selections for December 18, 2020

By Aly Gardner

As we are approaching December 21st, the winter solstice and (in the northern hemisphere) the day of shortest daylight hours, we are also looking past that to the lengthening of days that will follow. It seems natural for humans to generally be in a state of anticipating the next thing. For example, thinking about wonderful online concerts that are coming up, like a box of chocolatey musical treats, just waiting for us to start indulging!

Of note: Handel’s Messiah with EMS, SBO and Byrd Ensemble will premiere on Saturday 19th, and on Monday 21st, Ely Cathedral in England will premiere a recently found carol by a composer named Jane Savage, from 1785, which they will stream on Ely Cathedral – YouTube. You can see a page of the score here.

Here is a yummy selection of mixed bonbons – which will you go for first, the milk chocolate, or the hazelnut cluster?

Seattle Baroque Orchestra Gallo 2

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater from a performance at Shorecrest Performing Arts Center in February 2018. Alexander Weimann, Music Director, Seattle Baroque Orchestra – Olivier Wevers, Choreographer, Whim W’Him.

Join Us for Praetorius Christmas Vespers!

Introduction with excerpts from rehearsals – Music Director David Fallis and the musicians of Praetorius Christmas Vespers at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, with Early Music Seattle and Northwest Baroque Masterworks.

New York Baroque Incorporated: Baroque Holiday Music and Dance | The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org)

Grammy-winning early music specialist and string player Robert Mealy leads the young and vibrant historical performance ensemble New York Baroque Incorporated for a dance program featuring suites by Rameau, Lully, Purcell, and Handel. Two great Baroque dancers, Caroline Copeland and Carlos Fittante, take center stage.

Handel and Haydn Society: Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org)

Celebrate the season with Claudio Monteverdi’s transcendent Vespers for the Blessed Virgin, an evening prayer service for chorus, soloists, and instrumentalists. This tour-de-force sold-out performance by the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston’s renowned period-instrument ensemble, under the direction of the esteemed conductor Harry Christophers and led by captivating concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky, highlights the grace and mystery of this timeless work of praise.

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Alexander Weimann Radio

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Early Music Seattle: Complations with Alex Weimann


Selections for December 11, 2020

By Aly Gardner

It’s that time of year when people (in northern latitudes) are seeing the days darken earlier, and some of us are thinking of filling our store-cupboards and preparing for a cozy hibernation. On that theme, here are some selections to help us stock-up on reading and listening for the next little while. The curated playlists here are focused on music of peace and calm, while the websites span all sorts of information for us to unwrap, ponder over, and maybe re-gift!

BBC Radio 3 provides podcasts from The Early Music Show – fascinating discussion covering a broad range of topics related to, “early developments in musical performance and composition in Britain and abroad.” Their Early Music Now show covers festivals around Europe. The website is well worth exploring too!

The Smithsonian Institute offers not just a single rabbit-burrow to go down, but an entire rabbit warren of music podcasts, spanning genres and geographies. As their website mentions, “The Smithsonian’s combined musical resources constitute the world’s largest museum of music.”

The Library of Congress has a vast repository of online Audio Recordings, along with commentary, expert discussion, photos and more. Here for example, Alan Jabbour talks about Henry Reed’s fiddling and bowing technique and here are recordings of Coptic Divine liturgy of St. Basil with its hymns.

Baroque music for relaxation and sleeping (Musica para dormir y relajarse)
Palestrina, Missa Papae Marcelli. The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips
Vivaldi Gloria at La Pieta, Venice

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Early Music Seattle: Baroque Relaxation

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 Early Music Seattle: Baroque Relaxation


Selections for December 4, 2020

By Mike Leake

Gus Denhard, EMS’s Executive Director, asked me to develop a list of Sephardic music. That is a big challenge, considering the history of what are now called the Sephardic Jews. Briefly, they are the descendants of the Jews who lived in Spain and Portugal up to (and for some, a bit after) the time of Columbus. See below for more detail. In 1492, the long process of expelling Muslims from Spain was largely completed, and along with the Muslims, Jews were made to leave. They journeyed to Morocco, Greece, Turkey and the Mediterranean islands. Some were forced to convert to Christianity; and some chose to convert but took their previous religious practices underground. The initial expulsion was repeated in 1609 when those who had converted were expelled; because the crown considered them to be disloyal and a source of uprisings. Some of these people went to the New World to settle in Dutch territories in what is now Brazil.

I was introduced to this music when I heard Montserrat Figueras sing  La Rosa Enflorece (The Rose Flowers). The second link provides the lyrics. This music touches the soul, and led to my exploration of Sephardic music. There are many recording of this song, with various interpretations, to be found on the web.
Montserrat Figueras – La Rosa Enflorece
La Rosa Enflorece (English translation)

If one wants to jump to a purchase, Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XXI released a two-disc set, with lyrics, called Diaspora Sefardi. It also released Istanbul, Dimitrie Cantemir, which has several Sephardi pieces (no lyrics).

Here is a good source for an overview of Sephardi Jews, and in particular the Seattle contingent.
Sephardic Jews in Washington

Here is the Yamma trio. I picked it for the lyrics, printed in Ladino. One can get a sense of the sound and spelling of Ladino. There are many links on You Tube to the larger group, The Yamma Ensemble. They range from an ancient sound, to something thoroughly modern, in Ladino.
Jewish Sephardic – ladino – Sien Drahmas Al Dia | Yamma Trio performs Sefardic Jews repertoire

But what is Sephardic music? Does it have a historical date? Or is it any music sung in Ladino?  Here is a personal account from someone with Sephardic heritage who learned Ladino so that she could bring some life to the language.
The Revival Of Sephardic Jewish Language Ladino Nani i24news

The Origins of Sephardic Jewry –
Now, saved until after you have had some familiarization, and so you could avoid it if not in the mood for a lecture, here is an hour lecture about the origins of Sephardic Jewry.
Origins of Sephardic Jewry Dr. Henry Abramson

The influence of the Muslims –
And here is the same professor discussing the very important conquest of the Iberian peninsula by the Muslims; which helped develop the character of the music and songs.
Sephardic Jewry and the Islamic Conquest of 711 Dr. Henry Abramson

For those who would like to see how Ladino is spelled, this attachment comes from some letters between women in Rhodes and family members who had come to Seattle. Credit to the Stroum Center at the U.W. A translation is provided. If one has some background in Spanish, or other Latin-derived languages, you can pick out some of the cognates.
Between Rhodes and Seattle: Three generations of Sephardic women in family letters

I came to enjoy Sephardic music through listening to the Romanza, or Romance. The romance is usually performed as a woman solo song and is often used as a lullaby. Some romances are also for the year and the life cycles. The themes of the songs reflect the Hispanic heritage in the communities of the former Ottoman Empire and Northern Morocco. The musical style reflects the musical culture of the peoples among whom the Jews lived, including the Turkish makamlar, Berber and Balkan rhythms and European influences. This link has both a solo, and three woman singing socially.
Romanza – Romance

But then, as all music, interpretations can be used to make it more contemporary. Here are two Seattle men, one a rabbi, singing an old romanza about drinking, and not letting it control your life.
Romanza Rap

I have long loved this tune; and never knew it was a traditional Sephardic song. Here is a very sweet rendition in the setting of a wedding.
Isaac Azose performs Pasharo D’ermozura

Here is a trio playing on traditional instruments. And the next link provides the lyrics.
Ana Alcaide: LUNA SEFARDITA en Samarkanda  
Luna Sefardita (English translation)

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Selections for November 20, 2020

By Aly Gardener

You may know that our Pacific Northwest region is home to several excellent Baroque Orchestras. We bet Lewis and Clark didn’t foresee that, when they stumbled onto a desolate Pacific coast – 214 years ago during a November storm! We salute them from the comfort of our computer chairs, and click to begin our own explorations, starting with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO) of Vancouver, British Columbia. PBO has a symbiotic relationship with Early Music Vancouver, just as Seattle Baroque Orchestra has with Early Music Seattle, and is sustained by the appreciation and support of their fans – as we are, too!

Alex Weimann with members of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra

PBO’s Artistic Director is the multi-talented Alexander Weimann and their release of “Handel: Orlando” was nominated for a Juno, and received a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award. This year, PBO, Alex and soprano Karina Gauvin have released a new album, “Nuits blanches: Opera Arias at the Russian Court of the 18th Century.” Alex is also Artistic Director of Seattle Baroque Orchestra, under the auspices of Early Music Seattle, and he has therefore conducted and performed much of the best “joyful noise” performed along our coast.

SBO and Alexander Weimann
Alexander Weimann with SBO and others
Early Music Vancouver

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Seattle Baroque Orchestra
Nuits blanches: Opera Arias at the Russian Court of the 18th Century

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Seattle Baroque Orchestra
Nuits blanches: Opera Arias at the Russian Court of the 18th Century

Selections for November 13, 2020

To round the recent focus on Ireland with playlists and our Irish Baroque online events, here is some enticing content from the Irish Baroque Orchestra. IBO was founded as recently as 1996, which just goes to show: it’s never too late to be Early!

IBO’s album, ” Welcome home, Mr Dubourg” is a tribute to violinist and composer Matthew Dubourg (1703-67) who was “Chief Composer and Master of His Majesty’s Musick attending the State in Ireland” in 1728. The orchestra champions, “previously-unknown high-quality gems from 18th century Ireland” (some of it newly-discovered, for example, by researching uncatalogued materials at the National Library of Ireland) and this album includes the world premiere of ” Ode for Dublin Castle, 1739. Crowned with a more illustrious light,” as well as Dubourg’s Violin Concerto in D – of which only one manuscript copy survives, in a library in Dresden, Germany.

Dubourg was a friend of George Frideric Handel, and led the musicians at Handel’s performances in Dublin in 1741, also assisting with Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” which had its own world premiere in Dublin in that year. Dubourg is certainly worth the painstaking research and tributes from the Irish Baroque Orchestra.

Look for explorations of other Baroque Orchestras in upcoming playlists – including our own Seattle Baroque Orchestra!

IBO Recordings:
https://www.irishbaroqueorchestra.com/ibo-player and https://www.irishbaroqueorchestra.com/media

IBO on FaceBook:


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Irish Baroque Orchestra

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Irish Baroque Orchestra


Selections for November 6, 2020

“Just what is Arabic Music?” Is it music played on the Arabian Peninsula? Does Pre-Islamic music count? Or should we consider music developed during the Islamic period? Should we privilege music a couple hundred years old, or at least carried into current tribal or ethnic music. I settled on the latter, with the inclusion of music with elements that likely started on the Arabian Peninsula; but has traveled along with Islam to North Africa and southwest Asia.

With the latter principle, I decided to consider the rhythms and the instruments that to me characterize Arabic music, and/or Arabic influenced music.

The rhythms are distinctive and perhaps give Arabic Music its most recognizable attribute. An introduction to the rhythms can be found at :

There are of course melodies that are used in the music, and a discussion of melodies can be found at :
This is a valuable web site and cam be browsed for hours, or weeks, depending on one’s interests.

I was introduced to Arabic Music at the club where my girlfriend was a dancer. Their band consisted of the oud, the tabla and the qanun, so I came to consider that the standard; however as with all music, the instruments will reflect preference and available performers. This group was Egyptian, so that colored their music, as well as the dance styles the customers usually saw. There was one dancer who preferred the Turkish dance style, so at times the music shifted to include the Turkish style. See the above “makam” web site for detailed discussion of the instruments and any other matter related to Arabic music.

Belly dance music is most accessible due to its clear rhythms, accentuated by percussion. After one has some familiarity with this, I suggest one listed to other rhythmic music, like on the ‘riqq’, similar to our tambourine. That and music on the oud, similar to the lute, can serve to provide the best introduction to rhythm and melody.

The first selection is of Habib Yammine, a Lebanese percussionist. I think that it is an excellent example of the type of rhythms used. If one listens to this for the “pure” example of rhythm, and then listens to an example of belly dance music, you can see its application to music. Of course, if you understand French, you can get even more from this clip.  He uses the “riqq” (our tambourine), that along with the “tabla” are standard rhythm instruments.


Belly dance can serve as an introduction to Arabic music in that it is both auditory and visual.  As with the music, there are regional and national styles; and  it can range from simple in form, to artistic in its choreography, to rather salacious.

These links offer demonstrations of some simple movements.  After watching them, one can see some of the technique used in a full routine.


OUD (lute)
Richard Hagopian is well represented on the web. His specialty is Armenian music from central Turkey. It represents one adaptation from the influence of Arabic rhythms and music, or perhaps we should say, the influence of Arabic ideas on a musical tradition dating back 2500 years. This clip provides an introduction to the oud, along with commentary to help understand the music. It is about 90 minutes and is similar to a lecture before a performance at an Early Music evening.


NEY (flute)
Here is short clip with the ney. It is related to the Arab Instruments web site. And gives one both a short example of the sound of the ney, as well as some comments about the playing of the instrument.


OUM KALTHOUM (our Western spelling of her name varies)
The proverbial “daughter of a poor villager”, she sang locally and gradually became known as “the girl with the nice voice”.  A representative of Odeon recorded her and her fortune took off.  She sold over 80 million discs.  Bob Dylan and Bono praised her work’; and Marie Callas referred to her as “Incomparable Voice” .  As a child she sang a capella; and at the full florescence of her career, she was backed by a full orchestra.  Even then, the rhythms and melodies of Arabic music are clearly present in her work.

This clip is offered because it has subtitles of the lyrics.  It starts with first the oud, then the tabla (drum) is introduced, to our ears establishing the Arabic sound.  The rhythm is accompanied by the melody, then the full orchestra enters.  Her singing starts at about 11:43 if you get impatient.  On CDs her songs are about 5-10 minutes. In concert, as here, one song may be over an hour.



Selections for October 30, 2020

Is there something Irish in the air (perhaps an Irish air?) We’re taking a fresh breath – no jokes about Irish Breeze, please – and sharing some ways to find music from Ireland, or performed in Ireland, that’s available to viewers and listeners worldwide.

Through your computer or through Alexa or other “smart speakers,” you can listen to a variety of classical, early and traditional music on the RTÉ Lyric FM channel, broadcast from Limerick city in Ireland. To engage Alexa in your quest, just say, “Alexa, play R.T.E. Lyric FM.”

Here are YouTube videos and playlists from Lyric FM, with some selections below:

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra LIVE, October 2020

Chief Conductor, Jaime Martin conducts the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in a programme with a Spanish flair: Falla El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat) Suite No. 1; Granados Intermezzo from Goyescas; Falla El amor brujo (Love the Magician) (1925); Chapí Prelude from La Revoltosa.

With Rebecca Sanchez, singer; RTE National Symphony Orchestra; Jaime Martin (conductor); Paul Herriott (presenter)

“Carolan’s Farewell” : Linda Lampenius (violin), RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, July 2010

Linda Lampenius (violin) joins the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Ireland’s leading orchestra, for Michael McGlynn’s arrangement of “Carolan’s Farewell”. This was recorded at the National Concert Hall, Dublin in July 2010. Sheet Music is available from www.michaelmcglynn.com

View: Danny Boy performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra with Sir James Galway & Audience, June 2014

The audience in the University Concert Hall, in Limerick spontaneously joined Sir James Galway and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gavin Maloney, in a performance of Danny Boy on a midsummer’s night. The Bill Whelan Gala was a celebration of the Limerick-born composer and marked Limerick City as the city of Culture 2014. It also included the new RTE lyric fm commission “Linen & Lace” written by Bill Whelan for flute and orchestra. The concert was broadcast and webcast live on RTE lyric fm.


Selections for October 23, 2020

This week we are dipping into music from China and Japan, inspired by the work of Tomoko Sugawara. Tomoko plays the kugo harp, which as she explains on her Kugo Harp website, “disappeared from East Asia 1000 years ago and Islamic countries 300 years ago.” A graduate of Tokyo University with a degree in Fine Arts, Tomoko initially learned to play on the Irish harp at the age of twelve before starting to play the grand harp at the age of sixteen and then discovering the kugo in 1994. In 2007 The Asian Cultural Council awarded her a grant to research the instrument in New York. She worked with music archaeologist Bo Lawergren and historical harp maker Bill Campbell of Port Townsend, WA, to reconstruct a kugo based on ancient pictures and instruments that survived at the Emperor’s treasure house, Shosoin, in Japan.

What passion and dedication – to travel across the world to rebuild an instrument that hasn’t been heard for generations, and then become one of its finest exponents. Naturally, musicians from other traditions have been delighted to work with Tomoko: see our video section for collaborations – including compositions from Anglo-Iranian composer Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour, who, when he “realized that Ms. Sugawara’s harp (čang, in Iranian) had been the favorite instrument of the great Iranian poet Rudaki (858 – ca. 941), he decided to write the two pieces for her.”


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Tomoko Sugawara

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Tomoko Sugawara


Selections for October 16, 2020

Ireland has a vibrant cultural influence outside of the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in March, and this week we’re delving into some topical but less typical connections. We generated a few paragraphs as we did our explorations, so here are links to some music of peace and reflection that you might like to listen to, as you sail with us into the continuum of American-Irish connections.

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  • Filleadh: Sacred Songs by brothers Owen and Mícheál Pádraig (also known as Moley – an Irish musician who lived in Seattle) Ó Súilleabháin
  • Celtic Soul by their mother, Nóirín Ní Riain
  • Rhiannon Giddens (an American musician who lives in Ireland)

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  • Filleadh: Sacred Songs by brothers Owen and Mícheál Pádraig (also known as Moley – an Irish musician who lived in Seattle) Ó Súilleabháin
  • Celtic Soul by their mother, Nóirín Ní Riain
  • Rhiannon Giddens (an American musician who lives in Ireland)


Let’s start in the USA, with a description from Rochester University of recently rediscovered sheet music for a song honoring Frederick Douglass, who was a former slave, and a campaigner against slavery and for the rights of women. The “ Farewell Song of Frederick Douglass” was composed to mark Frederick’s 1845 escape to Ireland, where he traveled for nineteen months and was a huge hit and influential speaker. In September, the Irish Government established the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowships Ireland, to commemorate the 175th anniversary of Frederick Douglass in Ireland.

Ireland was at that time entering the terrible Great Potato Famine, which lasted until 1849. The Famine was one of the drivers behind Ireland’s strong presence in the USA today, as starvation and poverty forced millions of Irish to emigrate. Over 600,000 people (those who survived the journey) landed at the Port of New York between 1846 and 1851, and as emigration continued, an estimated 4.5 million Irish had arrived in America by 1930.

As a reminder of how communities can help one another throughout time, in 1847 the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma sent what money they could – $5,000 in modern money, despite having just survived their own deprivations – over to the starving Irish. In 2020, Irish people raised 1.8 million dollars for Navajo and Hopi people badly affected by COVID-19. The Choctaw Ireland Scholarship supports a student from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to attend University College Cork for a one year Master’s degree, in commemoration of the act of generosity and humanitarianism by the Choctaw Nation.

Selections for October 9, 2020

This week we take a listen to the music of Ravi Shankar. Not only was he a Grammy-winning sitar virtuoso, but he was one of the first to bring the magic of Indian music to western audiences. Shankar collaborated with musicians of all genres from the 1960s until his death in 2012. Many musicians cite him as a direct influence on their music.

Some of these notable artists include Yehudi Menuhin, George Harrison, John Coltrane and Philip Glass. Exploring Shankar’s music—and the music created from his influence—is fun because it’s a journey across all types of artists and genres.

Shankar not only played the sitar, but experienced music as something much deeper. He said,

“Music transcends all languages and barriers and is the most beautiful communicative skill one can have. Music makes us all experience different emotions or the Navarasa as we call it. Different types of music, whether it is vocal or instrumental, Eastern or Western, classical or pop or folk from any part of the world can all be spiritual if it has the power to stir the soul of a person and transcend time for the moment.”

Anoushka Shankar, his daughter, is a master sitar player in her own right. She continues the tradition of musical collaboration across cultures and musical genres. This year, Ravi Shankar would’ve been 100 years old. This article pays tribute to his mastery and influence. It features this video by his daughter, Anoushka.

These videos and playlists give you just a small sampling of his sitar artistry. You could easily spend hours following the thread of his music and music from artists that were captivated by his passion.

Ravi Shankar teaches George Harrison to play sitar
Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin
Anoushka Shankar plays Lasya
Anoushka Shankar and Patricia Kopatchinskja play Raga Piloo
Ravi Shankar Tenth Decade in Concert
Ravi Shankar centenary video

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Early Music Seattle: Ravi Shankar Music

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Early Music Seattle: Ravi Shankar Music

Selections for October 2, 2020

Research into lesser-known composers is being carried out by many hard-working people, including Early Music America and the Rachel Barton Pine Foundation – meaning that a growing number of these gorgeous works can be shared with the world (and more easily than ever before. When technology works, it is awesome!) Thanks to Early Music America for their listing of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) composers active before 1850 from which we include a sampling below, along with links to videos for your enjoyment!

Vicente Lusitano
Motets for 5-8 voices a capella, from 16th-century Portugal
Vicente Lusitano • Heu me Domine – by Cantum Mensurable

José Maurício Nunes Garcia
Mostly choral; also opera and symphonic works, from 18th-century Brazil
José Maurício Nunes Garcia – Missa de Santa Cecília – by Musica Brasilis

Domingos Caldas Barbosa
Brazilian modinha composer, from 18th-century Brazil
Morrendo Devagar – Domingos Caldas Barbosa (1738_1800) – by Átila Rafael

Charles Ignatius Sancho
Songs and keyboard pieces, from 18th-century England
Ignatius Sancho Minuets – by Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra

Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Operas, symphonies, violin concertos, string quartets, duos for two violins, sonatas for keyboard and violin, sonata for harp and flute, from 18th-century France
Buskaid – Symphonie Concertante in G major – Allegro – Chevalier de Saint-George – by Buskaid South Africa

Blas Tardío de Guzmán
Maestro de capilla at Sucre Cathedral (then called La Plata), from 18th-century Bolivia
Tota pulchra es Maria- BLAS TARDÍO DE GUZMÁN – by Enrique Guerrero

Pedro Ximénez Abril Tirado
Chapel master at the Cathedral in Sucre, Bolivia. Considered the post prolific composer of the classical and early romantic periods in South America, from 18th-century Bolivia
Luis Malca Contreras – Minueto 75 Pedro Ximenez Abril – by Luis Malca Contreras for Guitarras de Luthier


Selections for September 25, 2020

From September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month – Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana – in the United States, and this week we are continuing to enjoy some musical fruits of this heritage, paying tribute to three composers who were active in Mexico during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Disfruten!

  • Antonio de Salazar (1650-1715)
  • Manuel de Zumaya (1678-1755)
  • Ignacio de Jerusalem (1707-1769)

At this time in history, what is now Mexico was called New Spain, because the country didn’t gain independence until 1821. These composers have one large musical influence in common: they were all cathedral chapel masters (also called choir masters). So many (but not necessarily all) of their compositions were designed to be sung by a choir in church.

Antonio de Salazar – Born in Spain around 1650, he then traveled to Mexico. In 1679, he became the chapel master of Puebla Cathedral located in Puebla, about 83 miles from Mexico City. He then became the chapel master of the Mexico City Cathedral, his final position. His work includes magnificats, hymns, responsories, and other sacred choral music as well as villancicos.

Manuel de Zumaya – Born in Mexico around 1678, he was assistant to Antonio de Salazar who was then the chapel master at Mexico City Cathedral. In 1715, Zumaya became the chapel master of the cathedral when Salazar retired. He held that post for 24 years until he left for Oaxaca in 1738 where he held the same position at Oaxaca Cathedral. He composed several masses, a lamentation, and numerous motets as well as villancicos. He’s considered a master of the older Renaissance style as well as of the modern Baroque style.

Ignacio de Jerusalem – Born in Italy in 1707, he emigrated to Mexico City in 1742. He became chapel master of the Metropolitan Cathedral there in 1750, a position he held for the rest of his life. Jerusalem was a prolific composer, and his works include may liturgical pieces such as masses, matins, and magnificats as well as symphonies and other secular music.

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Early Music Seattle: Renaissance and Baroque Composers of Mexico

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Early Music Seattle: Renaissance and Baroque Composers of Mexico

Selections for September 11, 2020

In a previous Clef Notes we explored the works of Joseph Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, an Afro-French composer from the time of Mozart – and there are many great composers of African descent (just a few are listed here). When the world discovered Africa’s own magnificent traditions, Art and Culture started resonating with African influences: just looking at a few historical examples, Camille Saint-Saëns was influenced by folk melodies while visiting North Africa, and composed ” Suite algérienne,” Opus 89 ” Africa” and other works in response. In the nineteenth century, Antonín Dvořák incorporated Afro-American themes into his ” New World Symphony.

In the early twentieth century, Artist Pablo Picasso and his Modernist contemporaries were thrilled by African masks and sculpture that they saw at the Musée d’Ethnographie (now the Musée de l’Homme) in Paris, and created paintings and sculptures in hommage. Today we say that artists and musicians should reference their sources, as their due, however Picasso has been quoted as saying, “Good artists copy; great artist steal.” Whatever our modern perspective, it remains true that imitation has always been a form of flattery – and there is so much to admire in the vast history of music from Africa.

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Early Music Seattle: African classical traditions

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Early Music Seattle: African classical traditions

Selections for September 4, 2020

Handpan music defies classification, as evidenced by the many labels it has on streaming services: worldwide, new age, alternative, electronic, etc. Whether it’s played solo or with other instruments, this drum provides a somewhat ethereal quality to any music. It’s the perfect background music.

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Early Music Seattle: Handpan Music

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Early Music Seattle: Handpan Music

Selections for August 28, 2020

Regular readers of Clef Notes will know that we’re fans of multi-cultural music, and how a cross-over of influences between regions, eras and disciplines can help us to hear in new ways. We love how music is a living language what sends its “genes” down the years to future generations. This week we’re once again (as so often) listening deeply to Wu Man, soloist with the exquisite Pipa instrument, and the musical influences around her. We started by listening to Wu Man playing on a track named “In C” on her Spotify station, and noticed that it sounded a little like a Philip Glass composition and also that the piece had been written by Terry Riley (who did indeed influence Philip Glass) and is a cross-heritage composer who includes Classical and Jazz music in his repertoire. If proof were needed that we are all connected, here it is. We hope you enjoy going down “Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit burrow” while exploring music and its influences with us – and if you ever have questions or suggestions, do please drop us a line!

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Wu Man

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Wu Man

Selections for August 21, 2020

The fabulous Rachel Barton Pine is a prolific concert violinist. She’s known not only for playing the classical greats but also contemporary works. This week’s playlist reflects that range with selections from her two most recent albums:

  • Dvořák and Khachaturian Violin Concertos (2019)
  • Blues Dialogues: Music by Black Composers (2018)

Collaboration is the thread that weaves through all Rachel Barton Pine’s music. Whether she’s playing with symphonies, guest conductors, or other musicians, each song is a team effort. There’s so much that can be said about her music, but better than any description is to experience it!

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Early Music Seattle: Rachel Barton Pine Music

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Early Music Seattle: Rachel Barton Pine Music

Selections for August 14, 2020

This week we’re excited to share playlists devoted to the medieval Hurdy Gurdy instrument, also known as the Wheel fiddle or the Wheel vielle. The player, called a hurdy-gurdist, creates music by turning a crank that rotates a wheel against the strings, while pressing keys on the underside of the instrument to play the tune. Yes, that does sound complicated! The deep sound is similar to bagpipes, although – apologies to our bagpipers out there – much less likely to wake the neighbors. The instrument shows up in contemporary music (read about recordings featuring the Hurdy Gurdy here), and contributes a lot to video game sound tracks (read more here). Fair warning, you might get addicted to the sound.

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Early Music Seattle: Hurdy Gurdy music

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Early Music Seattle: Hurdy Gurdy music

Selections for August 7, 2020

When you think of early music, you might think about music played a few hundred years ago, maybe 400 years ago. But imagine music and instruments from at least 1,000 years ago! Such is the case with the yidaki and bilma, or didgeridoo and clap sticks. Playing contemporary songs with these ancient instruments, this week’s playlist features Bärra West Wind, an aboriginal band from northern Australia.

Like all the best bands to come out of Arnhem Land, Bärra West Wind are guided by and bound to their ancient musical traditions, their songlines, their law and their land. Bärra (bah-rra) is the name of a songline belonging to the Gälpu Clan, telling the story of the West Wind. It is from this songline that the band take their name, their inspiration, and their power.

Larry Larrtjaŋga Gurruwiwi and Andrew Gäyalaŋa Gurruwiwi, sons of world-renown custodian of the Yidakki (didgeridoo) Djalu Gurruwiwi and master musicians in their own right, lead this band of monster talents. In their element on stage, Bärra West Wind expertly intertwine the ancient and contemporary in a mesmerizing performance, championing the sounds of saltwater reggae combined with their deep gospel overtones.

The didgeridoo is a long, tubular instrument, typically made from Eucalyptus. It’s the world’s oldest wind instrument. When you play a didgeridoo, the sound is made from the lips and how you blow into it – it has no reeds or finger holes. Clap sticks are also made out of hard Eucalyptus wood. When you play them, you strike them against each other. Like many ancient instruments, the didgerdoo and clap sticks were (and continue to be) an integral part of ceremonial song and dance.

You’ll hear both the didgeridoo and clap sticks in many of the songs of Bärra West Wind. To learn more about them, check out this Facebook Q&A video. To learn more about Aboriginal Australians and the culture, take a look at this video and this page.

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Early Music Seattle: Bärra West Wind

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Early Music Seattle: Bärra West Wind

Selections for July 31, 2020

As we conclude the For All Our Sisters series, our playlist focuses on Nathan Whittaker. Nathan is a teacher and international violoncello performer on period instruments – he plays a cello of Mario Gadda from 1957, and a baroque cello of Johann Christian Ficker II from c. 1770. In 2012 Nathan gained a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Washington, and also holds degrees from Indiana University. Nathan is – among many other things – serving as Artistic Director of Gallery Concerts Seattle, a group founded with the admirable mission of “presenting Early Music for chamber ensemble in acoustically appropriate spaces on period instruments, performed by top musicians of Seattle playing together with guest artists.” All of which is to say that Nathan has great dedication and talent – but don’t take our word for it, please enjoy exploring more for yourself!

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Early Music Seattle: Nathan Whittaker

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Early Music Seattle: Nathan Whittaker

Selections for July 24, 2020

This week we are highlighting poet Jennifer Bullis. A Nevada native now living in Bellingham, Jennifer has been writing poetry for about twenty years, and taught composition and literature at Whatcom Community College for fourteen years. In 2013 she published Impossible Lessons, a book of poetry that “makes the mythic and the domestic sing,” and Jennifer is certainly immersed in mythology – especially myths of origin, which explain “how we came to be who we are in this place” (something we’d all like to understand right now!). You can go deeper into this with Jennifer in this interview for the Bellingham Review, and read more about Jennifer on her web site here.

Some of Jennifer’s poetry online

Audio: The Summer The Sun Hid

Video: Everett Poetry Nite Presents an Evening with Jennifer Bullis

Text: In That Time of Skiing I was Always Wrong

Jennifer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bullisjennifer

Selections for July 10 & 17, 2020

One of the joys of compiling the weekly playlist is learning more about the great talents of our performers, who we are delighted to support as well as to share with everyone! This week we are exploring the work of two artists who are contributing their great talent to our For All Our Sisters virtual series:

Aaron Grad is a composer, musician and keen performer on an extraordinary electric theorbo that he designed and built himself. You can read about Aaron’s performance with the instrument in a Seattle Times article here, describing Strange Seasons, an ode to Seattle weather that he performed in 2017 with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra – and enjoy various video and audio recordings on Aaron’s web site here.

Danielle Sampson is a Seattle-based soprano who performs baroque, classical and contemporary music, and has a fascinating catalog of performances spanning the eras. You can read more about Danielle on her website here, and find more of her video and audio recordings here. She is also a founding member of the duo Jarring Sounds with musician Adam Cockerham.

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Early Music Seattle: Aaron Grad and Danielle Sampson

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Early Music Seattle: Aaron Grad and Danielle Sampson

Selections for July 3, 2020

Janet See is a flutist of great talent, who is the star of our first videos in the “For all our Sisters” online series – we will have many separate online experiences, instead of one in-person concert. A benefit of the online format is being able to listen again and again, and whenever we wish (while writing these notes, for example!). Janet is a teacher as well as performer, and has soloed for over thirty years on baroque and multi-keyed classical flute, in the USA and UK. You can read more about Janet on her website here.

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Early Music Seattle: Janet See

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Early Music Seattle: Janet See

Selections for June 19, 2020

You may know that EMS is producing a series of videos to replace the For All Our Sisters concert, which would have taken place this month. One of the amazing performers making that transition from live to digital is Claudia Castro Luna – Washington State’s Poet Laureate and Seattle’s first Civic Poet from 2015-2017, and recipient of the Academy of American Poets Laureate fellowship in 2019.

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Claudia Castro Luna interviews

Selections for June 12, 2020

As we drive towards a brighter and more just future, it’s worth remembering some bright examples from the past. This week we are listening to the work of the “Black Mozart,” Joseph Bologne – an Afro-French violinist and composer from Mozart’s time, who Mozart envied! Also known as “Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges,” or just “Saint-Georges,” Bologne was the son of a French slave. Through hard work as well as genius, Bologne became renowned for classical composition, for mastery of the violin – and for fencing – and ultimately rose to the top of French society. US President John Adams referred to him as “the most accomplished man in Europe.”

Saint-Georges is sometimes described as the first classical composer of African ancestry – although it might be better to say he is the earliest one whose history and work have remained well-known to the present day, because we don’t know what has been lost over time. Perhaps additional classical work by black men and women will come to light as people do more research in this area.

Saint-Georges’ story reads like a novel, and indeed a film was made of his life, “Le Mozart Noir” – you can read about it and purchase the gorgeous soundtrack here, recorded by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, with Music Director Emerita Jeanne Lamon and violin soloists Linda Melsted and Geneviève Gilardeau. You can find a detailed history of Joseph Bologne on AfriClassical.com here and on Wikipedia here, and read about him along with other black composers at 9 black composers who changed the course of classical music history.

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NEW:Early Music Seattle: the ‘Black Mozart’ Joseph Bologne

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NEW: Early Music Seattle: the ‘Black Mozart’ Joseph Bologne

Selections for June 5, 2020

When we are challenged to know how to think about and respond to what’s happening in the world around us, it can be helpful to go to a source who knows, who is living the experience, and who can explain it in ways that we connect with. This is one of many reasons why Artists and Musicians will always be needed and relevant! This week, we are listening to American singer and musician Rhiannon Giddens. Together with her partner, the composer and musician Francesco Turrisi, they are “creating music that crosses borders and looks forward by looking back.” You can read more about their partnership and subscribe to their work here.

It’s interesting to note that however uncomfortable it can be to engage with the hard events of our times, society will often develop respect and gratitude for the Artists who have done so. Counterculture musician Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is a type of protest song based on a poem by Friedrich Schiller, and to which Beethoven himself added lines that all men are brothers, to make a point.
You can read more about protest songs throughout the world and spanning history, on this Wikipedia page. To quote from the grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, which Giddens co-founded in 2005: “Know thy history. Let it horrify you; let it inspire you. Let it show you how the future can look, for nothing in this world has not come around before.”

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NEW: Early Music Seattle: Rhiannon Giddens

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Selections for May 29, 2020

Although women composers from the early centuries may not be as well known as their male counterparts, they were certainly active, with some outstanding music that is still performed today. We are enjoying poignant vocal compositions from a selection of these composers – reminding us why it doesn’t take a full orchestra to give a person the goosebumps!

Caterina Assandra was an Italian composer who was born in 1590 and became a nun in 1609. Her musical talents were recognized from an early age and she composed pieces that were traditional as well as innovative for their time. Learn more about Caterina here.

Hildegard of Bingen, also known as Saint Hildegard or the Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary, and polymath who lived from 1098 until 1179. Learn more about Hildegard here and if you want to go deep into her story, you can find more here.

Kassia, also known as Saint Kassiani, was a Byzantine-Greek writer, poet and composer of hymns. Born around 800 A.D. in Constantinople, she is believed to be the earliest female composer whose works survive. Learn more about Kassia here and here (see that page for links to more women Classical composers).

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NEW: Early Music Seattle: Early women composers

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NEW: Kassia, Byzantine hymns of the first female composer of the Occident 

Selections for May 22, 2020

This week’s playlist features Indian classical music! It is an incredibly ancient form of music from the Indian Subcontinent. Featuring both Hindustani and Carnatic elements, it has very discrete rhythmic components as well as beautiful tonal flows. The playlist comprises of the brilliant artistry of Zakir Hussain on the Tabla, Dr. N. Rajam on the Violin, and Ravi Shankar on the Sitar. All three are world renowned musicians and are greatly influential in the Indian Classical music scene.

For violinists interested in the sliding scales featured in the playlists, here is a great article to read: The Art of the Violin Slide

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NEW: Indian Early Music

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NEW: Indian Early Music

Selections for May 15, 2020

We are exploring the intersection of Baroque with world and contemporary music, performed by the international ensemble Rumbarroco, led by Laury Gutiérrez of Venezuela. The sonic fusion makes for wonderful listening, and allows us to hear these sounds in exciting new ways. Rumbarroco’s goal is to unite diverse communities by highlighting the fusion and confluence of the cultures of Europe, Africa, and the Americas through musical performances and educational outreach. We are big fans of this mission! You can read more about Rumbarroco on their website here.

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NEW: Rumbarroco – I’ve found a new baby: Baroque meets Afro-Latin Jazz

NEW: La Donna Musicale / RUMBARROCO 

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NEW: Rumbarroco – I’ve found a new baby: Baroque meets Afro-Latin Jazz

Selections for May 8, 2020

Antonio M. Gomez is passionate about connecting learners of all ages with compelling cultural stories and inspiring arts experiences. As a former K-12 teacher, he continues to contribute to economically and culturally accessible education programs at Tacoma Arts Live. As a percussionist, Tony specializes in Afro-Latin, Mediterranean, and Arabic genres. He performs with Trío Guadalevín, the Eurasia Consort, and the national touring music-dance production Tango del Cielo. He has studied in Cuba, Argentina, Panamá, Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Artist Trust awarded Tony a 2018 J.W. Ray Venture Project for Ramas & Raíces – a transnational music project between Mexico and Washington state. He has been a frequent speaker for Humanities Washington on arts and culture and is a Jubilation Foundation Fellow in arts education. Tony holds an MA in education from the University of California, Berkeley and BA from the University of Puget Sound.

We are pleased to present three playlists curated by Tony Gomez himself! Primarily percussion focused, and featuring a wide range of cultural expression, the playlists highlight various artists through their music and commentary. As we’ve listened to them, we’ve found the rhythms accessible and simple, yet deep and soulful. The themes are wonderfully varied and unique, and the YouTube playlist is particularly enjoyable as you can see the artists masterfully play their instruments, dance, and deeply indulge in their musical expression!

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NEW: Percussion by Antonio M. Gomez

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NEW: Antonio M. Gomez, percussion

NEW: Antonio M. Gomez | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Selections for May 1, 2020

Continuing our theme of wonderful music from around the world, this week we are excited to share a cross-genre selection from Wu Man. Wu is a virtuoso composer and player of the Chinese pipa instrument, a beautiful pear-shaped lute with twenty-six frets and six ‘ridges’ that act as stops along its neck. Wu Man’s work spans a range of styles and genres – Eastern and Western and across the ages. She famously introduced the pipa across genres, playing with the Kronos Quartet and Philip Glass among others, and she is a founding member of The Silk Road Ensemble that commissions works across the musical spectrum. Their “Off the Map” CD was nominated in the Best Classical Crossover Album category at the Grammy Awards in 2011. Musical America named Wu their Instrumentalist of the Year in 2013 – the first time this award was made to a player of a non-Western instrument.

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NEW: Early Music Seattle: Wu Man pipa music

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NEW: Early Music Seattle: Wu Man pipa music

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NEW: Man Wu

Selections for April 24, 2020

Early spring is transitioning to mid spring and, in some part of the world, late spring! Colorful flowers are in bloom, trees are covered in fresh green, the air is warmer and nice to breathe in, and we are all ready to be outside! We are hopeful that we are past the halfway points of the shutdowns in many areas, and we are more than ready to experience the vernal passions of the season. While we wait, Early Music Seattle is delighted to share a playlist featuring the moving, passionate, energetic works of Alana Youssefian, Antonio M. Gomez, and Miyo Aoki. We are thrilled to work with these greatly talented artists and to share in their vision of what life and beauty can be.

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This Week’s Spotify Selection
NEW: Early Music Seattle: Alana Youssefian

NEW: Listen to percussionist Antonio M. Gomez specializing in Afro-Latin and Mediterranean music

NEW: Watch recorder musician Miyo Aoki as she performs with various artists

Selections for April 17, 2020

This week our playlist features Alexander Weimann, Musical Director of Seattle Baroque Orchestra and Pacific Baroque Orchestra among others. In addition to his Director roles, Alex is a keyboard virtuoso who can improvise within the classical genre – a skill that was expected of musicians in the 18th century, but unusual today. We have selected two of Alex’s Baroque albums, which we are enjoying this week for their sense of structure as well as joy and optimism. “Rebelles baroques” is comprised of Quantz and Telemann concerti for flute, strings and viola, with Alex conducting the Arion Baroque Orchestra. The “Meine Seele” album showcases countertenor Matthew White, with Alex on harpsichord and also directing the Tempo Rubato Ensemble, in a range of rich compositions from Bach, Bernhard, Erlebach, Muffat, Rosenmüller, Schütz and Tunder.

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 Early Music Seattle: Baroque with Alexander Weimann

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NEW:  Early Music Seattle: Baroque with Alexander Weimann

Selections for April 10, 2020

We are pleased to highlight the world-class talents of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra in this week’s playlist, focusing on their “Antonio Vivaldi” album. Vivaldi was known in his lifetime for violin pyrotechnics and clever composition, and these are superbly carried by Ingrid Matthews (violin), Byron Schenkman (harpsichord), Tekla Cunningham (violin), John Lenti (theorbo) and Nathan Whittaker (cello). Do we react differently to Vivaldi’s music today than listeners did in his own time? We may be uplifted, excited, soothed – but surely delighted to lose ourselves in Baroque splendor while cocooning at home!

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Early Music Seattle: Chamber works

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NEW:  Early Music Seattle: Chamber works 

Selections for April 3, 2020

This week’s playlist reflects the Celtic traditions of Europe. Cultures can become especially vibrant when different traditions influence one another, and this is true of the Celtic areas in Europe, which share common sea routes – the British regions of Wales, Scotland, Cornwall and the Isle of Man, Brittany in France, the island of Ireland, Portugal, and Spanish Galicia. Many a fascinating hour can be spent in learning about individual interpretations – for example, bagpipes are a famous part of Celtic traditional music, however they have varying sounds and mechanics (for example, Scottish bagpipes are breath-powered, while Irish Uilleann pipes are bellows-blown by squeezing under the arm). Celtic music is a living tradition and performed by communities in multiple ways, from spontaneous pub music sessions to tradition-inspired orchestral pieces in Concert Halls, however the underlying music is essentially the same. We hope you’re enjoy the differences as well as common threads in this week’s selection.

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Early Music Seattle: Celtic Traditions

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NEW: Early Music Seattle: Celtic traditions