Early Music Ensemble receives warm reception, praise at Berkeley festival

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BGSU’s Early Music Ensemble recently traveled to Berkeley, CA for a performance at the Early Music America Young Performer’s Festival. Their program: “Fringe Music: Music from the Peripheries of Seventeenth- and Eighteenth- Century Europe” was performed in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on June 9 to an enthusiastic audience. Audience members and festival organizers had many positive comments for the ensemble, including that the concert was clearly driven by student engagement and enthusiasm, the musicality was very inspiring, and that the ensemble was at the same level as the groups from schools that have early music performance programs.

BGSU’s performance included lesser-known pieces by Portuguese, Danish, German, Bohemian and Moravian composers. Click here to view a PDF of their full program. Students in the ensemble enjoyed many excellent concerts during the festival by other student ensembles and professionals, and made important connections in the music field.

Led by Associate Professor of Musicology Arne Spohr, the BGSU Early Music Ensemble has been a vital part of the diverse performance culture in the College of Musical Arts for more than 40 years. The ensemble usually consists of 15-20 students, with a group of six string players, a recorder consort, six singers and a harpsichord player. They perform once or twice per semester in venues in- and outside the BGSU campus. The ensemble has worked with internationally acclaimed early music specialists such as Bob Wiemken, David Douglass and the Ensemble REBEL. Director Arne Spohr holds a PhD in music history from the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Köln (Germany), where he also studied recorder with Wolfgang Dey.

The group performs repertory from the early sixteenth to the late eighteenth century. Concert programming has centered on topics that tell “music histories,” not necessarily found in textbooks or music history lectures. These include programs such as The Travels of John Dowland, A Musical Journey through Europe c. 1600 (2011), Improvisation and Variation in Renaissance and Baroque Music (2011) and Images of Orpheus (2012).