Boston Early Music Festival

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The Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. to promote historical music performance. It presents an annual concert series in Boston and New York City, produces opera recordings, and organizes a week-long Festival and Exhibition every two years in Boston. A centerpiece of these Festivals has been a fully staged Baroque opera production.

Young Cupid (Frederick Metzger) visits Psyché (Carolyn Sampson) in Boston Early Music Festival's 2007 production of the French Baroque opera Jean-Baptiste Lully's Psyché.

One of BEMF’s main goals is to unearth and present lesser-known Baroque operas performed by the world’s leading musicians armed with the latest information on period singing, orchestral performance, costuming, dance, and staging at each biennial Festival. BEMF operas are led by the BEMF Artistic Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs and BEMF Stage Director in Residence Gilbert Blin. In 2008, BEMF introduced its Chamber Opera Series as part of its annual concert season. The series presents semi-staged productions of chamber operas composed during the Baroque period. In 2011, BEMF took its chamber production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea on a four-city North-American tour. In 2004, BEMF initiated a project to record some of its work in the field of Baroque opera on the CPO recording label. The series has since earned three Grammy Award nominations.

At each Festival, concerts are presented every day from morning until late at night. Concerts are given by an array of established luminaries and rising stars in the field of early music worldwide. BEMF concerts also allow for unique, once-in-a-lifetime collaborations and programs by the spectacular array of talent assembled for the Festival week's events. In addition, there are many scheduled Fringe concerts and events, presented by both local and out-of-town groups at a number of local venues in Boston and Cambridge. The Exhibition at the Festival is the largest event of its kind in the United States, showcasing over one hundred early instrument makers, music publishers, service organizations, schools and universities, and associated colleagues.

In 1989, BEMF established an annual concert series to meet the increasing demand for year-round performances by a number of internationally recognized artists. BEMF then expanded its concert series in 2006, when it extended its performances to New York City at The Morgan Library & Museum.BEMF's annual season now sets the bar nationally for early music performance and has featured such musicians as the Tallis Scholars, Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI, and Les Arts Florissants, as well as the North American débuts of Stile Antico, Bach Collegium Japan, Netherlands Bach Society, and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

Operas staged by the Boston Early Music Festival[edit]

BEMF presented operas by Lully in 2001 and 2007


  • Burkat, Leonard, and Pamela Fox. "Boston, Section 7 (i)", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 8 August 2007), (subscription access).
  • Jaffee, Kay (January 1982). "Conference Report: Boston Early Music Festival and Exhibition, May 26-31, 1981". The Journal of Musicology 1 (1): 125–129. doi:10.1525/jm.1982.1.1.03a00150. 

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