Connecticut Early Music Festival

270 Mohegan Avenue
New London, CT 06320


About Us:

Founded in 1982, the New London-based Connecticut Early Music Society presents an annual festival of between six and nine concerts each June. The term "early music" refers to both a repertory (European music written before about 1800, including medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical music) and an approach to performance ("historically-informed performance," including the use of period instruments). Performers and scholars of early music seek to discover and present music from times past and to explore a repertory of music that is otherwise little known. From Gregorian chant to the music of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, the repertory spans a millennium, from roughly 800 to 1800. Early music specialists also aim to recreate the sound-worlds of earlier times through the use of period instruments and techniques. They base their interpretations on the accumulated evidence of original instruments, manuscripts, first editions, and the remarks of theoretical and instructional treatises rather than on "received tradition" passed on by previous generations of performers and teachers.

CEMF is a major annual festival for southeastern Connecticut and surrounding areas. Concerts are presented in Old Lyme, New London, Stonington, and occasionally in other regions in the state. The Festival is especially celebrated for the intimacy of its venues and for the remarkable rapport between its audience and musicians. The ensembles and individual musicians presented are nationally and internationally known in the field. The Festival is organized around a central theme, and the repertory includes both beloved and undiscovered masterworks. Innovative programming and pre-concert talks serve to broaden the audience's understanding. In addition, school concerts are regularly presented by Festival musicians, engaging students in the region in dialogue with practitioners in the field.

Recent Festivals have presented concerts by the medieval ensembles Dialogos (Paris) and Istanpitta (Texas); by Renaissance choirs Blue Heron (Boston) and Stile Antico (London); by the New York-based consorts Parthenia and My Lord Chamberlain's Consort; and by the period orchestras Sinfonia New York, Arcadia Players (Northampton, MA), and the Handel and Haydn Society (Boston). Recent concerts by the Connecticut Early Music Ensemble, the Festival's resident ensemble led by Artistic Director Eric Rice, have included a critically-acclaimed, fully-staged production of Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), Bach's cantata Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest, Rameau's stunning and rarely-performed grand motet In convertendo, and Francesco Gasparini's serenata L'oraculo del fato.

CEMF receives regular support from the Connecticut Office of Culture and Tourism, the New England Foundation for the Arts, and a host of foundations, corporations, and individual donors. The Connecticut Early Music Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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