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2007 BLEMF presents world-class performances and educational offerings

Monteverdiís Orfeo launches festival on May 18

BLEMF (2)
Musicians perform in the 2006 Bloomington Early Music Festival, above

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Now in its fourteenth year, the Bloomington Early Music Festival (BLEMF), an annual celebration of music from Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical times, will take place May 18-28 at a variety of venues in the Bloomington community, including two performance spaces on the Indiana University Bloomington campus.

The festival kicks off on May 18 with a performance of Monteverdi's Orfeo, one of the earliest works recognized as an opera. Fully staged, with orchestra, the BLEMF Opera production celebrates the work's 400th anniversary. Jonathan Michaelsen, chair of IU's Department of Theatre and Drama, is director, and Jacobs School alumnus Corey Jamason, renowned harpsichordist with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, is conductor.

The Wells-Metz Theatre, Michaelsen said, was an ideal venue for the production of the "simple and passionate" opera, as it will allow the audience to be very close to the performers. He said the production represents wonderful three-way collaboration between IU's Department of Theatre and Drama, the Jacobs School of Music and BLEMF.

"We have two faculty designers -- one scenic and one lighting -- and a graduate costume student involved in the production," he said. "For me, it has been just wonderful to work with students from the school of music."

On May 19, Jacobs Professor of Music Stanley Ritchie, BLEMF's artist director and one of the world's leading performers of Baroque and Classical violin, will perform with BLEMF's resident ensemble Bloomington Baroque, which celebrates instrumentalists and singers who have studied at the Jacobs School's Early Music Institute (EMI).

"Whereas the festival is produced independently of the university," said Ritchie, "there is a long-standing collaborative relationship between BLEMF and the EMI. BLEMF always seeks to involve EMI students, faculty and alumni as much as possible. Likewise, the Jacobs School of Music does what it can to help the festival by offering rehearsal and performance space and other in-kind support. For the early music faculty at Indiana University, BLEMF is very much an EMI outreach."

Ritchie also will direct the grand orchestral finale on May 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Auer Hall. The Festival Orchestra Concert will include concertos and symphonic renditions of a number of beloved works.

Luis Roncayolo, who holds a master's degree in the double bass from the Jacobs School and has been with BLEMF in various volunteer and administrative roles since its inception, was appointed as festival director this year. He says that education is at the heart of the "musical feast that is BLEMF."

"Education is one of BLEMF's prime goals -- our program presents many different styles of music, not just Baroque, and our performers this year are coming from as far away as Switzerland," says Roncayolo. "In addition to the perennial favorites, like the Bloomington Baroque Orchestra, this year we're thrilled to be presenting Orfeo with specialty instruments such as the cornetti (an early version of the trumpet), and Ensemble La Rota, a Medieval music quartet from Montreal that won the 2006 Early Music America Medieval/Renaissance music competition for North American artists."

Educational events for younger children will include musical activities at WonderLab and a music-focused story hour at the Monroe County Public Library on May 19. A musical drama about Vivaldi, appropriate for older elementary and middle school students, will be presented on May 26.

As the only festival of its kind in the Midwest, BLEMF serves the Bloomington community, the Midwest region and a growing number of music lovers from across the United States. The festival is produced by Early Music Associates, Inc.

For ticket information and a complete schedule of events, visit the festival Web site at http://www.blemf.org.