In the Bay we shun obsolete technologies: it's dead to us if it's post-IPO. It wouldn't cross anyone's mind to, say, write with ink and quill, unless they're under undue Harry Potter influence. Yet when it comes to early music, there is a thriving scene of scholars and musicians, who dig the past to unearth "new" old music, and retrieve the way instruments were played before the 17th century. The San Francisco Early Music Society, founded thirty five years ago, has been an incubator for a bunch of early music ensembles, and are responsible in part for this medieval, baroque and Renaissance renaissance. They are presenting this week-end a concert by the Voices of Music ensemble (seen here at a recent performance) of baroque concerti for violin, cello, recorders and strings by Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, and Francesco Geminiani.
In addition to such concert presentations, the Early Music Society also does education programs for both professionals and amateurs, and supports emerging artists with communication and outreach. Many well known groups, such as Chanticleer or the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra started as affiliates. We have been curious to figure out why it is relevant to investigate and promote baroque and earlier music here in San Francisco; after all, it would be silly to dig for Roman ruins in California, why worry about the archeology of western European music? If you want to find the contextual environment for Bach's cello suites, Köthen seems a more logical place than here. So we presented the question to SFEMS director Harvey Malloy. I don't think there is a need for justification, he offered.