Lectures & Demonstrations
At every Festival, BEMF gathers performers, scholars, and industry professionals from around the world to discuss issues pertinent to the field of Baroque opera and early music, encouraging lively debates on topics ranging from staging Baroque operas in modern times, to developing the early music audience in North America, and current trends in instrument building.
Included with your Festival Pass is access to an enlightening series of lectures, panels, and symposia bringing together performers, scholars, and industry professionals from around the world. Join in these lively debates on a range of topics from staging Baroque opera in modern day, developing early music audiences in North America, and current trends in instrument building. You can also check out the Exhibitor Demonstration Festival at the Exhibition.
Wednesday, June 15 at 9am | Exeter Room, Radisson Hotel
Part One: Silver Kettles, Donkey Skins, Snares, and Trumpet Bells: Timpani Construction through the 19th century
The focus of this first of two presentations by Ben Harms, BEMF Orchestra percussionist and well respected maker of historical percussion, will be on: the bowls (chiefly wood, copper, brass, and silver); their various shapes and how they are formed; the skins (chiefly calf, donkey, and goat); and the early use of snares. This session will also explore the Schalltrichter, a piece of formed metal often in the shape of a trumpet bell, which was soldered into the interior of the timpani bowl; materials and shapes of timpani mallets will also be discussed.
Thursday, June 16 at 9am | Exeter Room, Radisson Hotel
Part Two: The Secret Art of Embellishment and Improvisation
Of all the instrumentalists, only timpanists and trumpeters were granted the privilege of forming a Guild which allowed them to maintain various trade secrets which they then passed on orally to a limited number of apprentices. Using the few written examples surviving from the period, iconographical evidence, and some 19th-century sources, Ben Harms believes he has discovered the basics of the art of virtuoso Baroque timpani playing. This session will be illustrated by the performance of numerous examples, including improvised variations on the theme found in Altenburg’s book on timpani and trumpet playing (1770/1795), and a set of variations on“La Folia” for four timpani.
Friday, June 17 at 9am | Exeter Room, Radisson Hotel
Authenticity and period instrument making in the 21st century
Benjamin Hebbert, head of Stringed Musical Instrument Making at West Dean College, U.K., explores some of the problems that instrument making has inherited from the beginning of the early music movement, when pioneers such as Dolmetsch and Montague-Cleeve envisioned instruments of the past as being inadequate to the rigors of sustained use, and blaming their faults as the culprit behind the loss of great traditions of instrumental music from the past. With a special emphasis on the English viol making tradition, a reassessment of surviving instruments offers substantial insights into the way that a type of instrument works and responds musically.
Friday, June 17 at 9am | Stuart Street Playhouse, Radisson Hotel
Acis and Galatea: Handel's musical and poetic circle at Cannons
An international panel of experts has been assembled for this discussion of Handel’s most popular dramatic work, including distinguished scholars Ellen T. Harris (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and James Winn (Boston University), and members of the Acis and Galatea artistic team Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Musical Directors; Gilbert Blin, Stage Director; and Anna Watkins, Costume Designer.
Saturday, June 18 at 10am
Stuart Street Playhouse, Radisson Hotel
Producing and Performing Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe: Italian opera for a Francophile German court
For this engaging conversation about how and why the decision to mount the North American premiere of Steffani’s Niobe evolved, as well as some of the challenges faced and choices made, our international panel of experts includes distinguished scholars Ellen T. Harris (MIT) and Colin Timms (University of Birmingham, U.K.), and members of the Niobe artistic team Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Musical Directors; Gilbert Blin, Stage Director and Set Designer; Anna Watkins, Costume Designer; and Caroline Copeland and Carlos Fittante, Choreographers.