Indiana University School of Music Announces New Director of Early Music Institute
Indiana University School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of world-renowned bassoonist Michael McCraw as Director of the Early Music Institute. Following a restructuring of the department, Mr. McCraw will partner his leadership responsibilities with internationally respected viola da gamba virtuoso Wendy Gillespie, who will assume her role as academic Chair of the Department of Early Music.
Cited in the newest edition of Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians as one of the most important early bassoon players and pedagogues of our time, Mr. McCraw offers students an extraordinary opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of early music. Together with Ms. Gillespie and other leading figures in the world of Early Music, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University continues to offer one of the finest, most comprehensive programs in the study of performance practice worldwide.
Speaking on behalf of their partnership, Wendy Gillespie commented that "we are delighted to be a part of the renaissance of the Early Music Institute as it approaches its silver anniversary and look forward to many more years of helping talented enthusiastic students reach their goals as performers and teachers." She went on to point out that "Michael McCraw is a very good friend and much valued colleague with whom I look forward to many years of developing the EMI to it full potential."
On the study of performance practice, Mr. McCraw comments that "for me, the quest for 'authenticity' is not primarily an intellectual one, although it is very important that one be well versed in the aesthetics and practices of the period; nor is this search in anyway confining. I am not striving to create something that belongs in a museum. Playing in an historically informed manner is important because it is liberating and creates something very beautiful."
About the Early Music Institute
The Early Music Institute at Indiana University's School of Music, established in 1980 by early music pioneer Thomas Binkley, provides a comprehensive program in the study of historical performance on original instruments of music before ca.1800, supplementing performance with research and theoretical studies, leading to degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The faculty consists of internationally known performers who specialize in the performance of early repertory. The EMI is fortunate to enjoy university-wide academic support from disciplines as diverse as musicology, computer studies, literature, medieval studies, and fine arts.
The program includes private lessons in voice and on historical instruments along with extensive solo and ensemble performance opportunities. Academic courses are designed to provide an understanding of the many practical and theoretical areas essential to performance of medieval, renaissance, and baroque music (e.g. improvisation, ornamentation, articulation, basso continuo, solmization, historical notation, bibliography, organology, etc.). Research is encouraged, and opportunities for research are provided both in academic courses and in elective special projects. The faculty of the Early Music Institute makes every effort to accommodate a student's specialized interests without losing sight of a broader commitment to artistic excellence and scholarship.
The student body comprises about 50 graduate students and a smaller number of undergraduate students majoring in early instruments and voice from many countries of North and South America, Europe and Asia. In addition, all activities of the EMI are available to the approximately 1500 music students majoring in standard practice areas, providing a healthy interaction between the disciplines.
As several visiting European colleagues have pointed out, a high standard of early music instruction may be found in many places, especially in Europe, but the rare thing about IU is the student's access to extraordinary resources, the opportunity to study music in its broader cultural context and the ability to weave the academic and performance strands together into a meaningful whole. Another observation has been that many Conservatories have commuting faculty and sometimes commuting students as well, which makes it difficult to offer such a well-rounded educational experience and to have major ensembles of such calibre.
About the Musicians
Bassoonist Michael McCraw, cited in the newest edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians as one of the most important early bassoon players and pedagogues of our time, began his career in New York City as a member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and as one of the pioneers in the field of baroque performance with original instruments. From 1979 he lived in Cologne, Germany, playing with such ensembles as Musica Antiqua Koeln, Concentus musicus Wien, London Baroque, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, and Camerata Koeln. Mr. McCraw moved to Toronto in 1991 to take up the position of principal bassoonist with the Tafelmusik Orchestra, a position he held through 2002. Also a gifted teacher, he has taught at festivals and workshops all over the world. His recordings number more than 140 and include, among many other solo and chamber music recordings, a highly acclaimed CD of Vivaldi bassoon concerti with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra. The American Record Guide places this recording "top of the list for Vivaldi bassoon, without hesitation." Mr. McCraw continues to free-lance in North America and Europe and in the summers teaches at several of the world's most renowned workshops. He is also musical director of the baroque double reed workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Wendy Gillespie began her performing career with the New York Pro Musica Antiqua. Since then, she has played in concerts all over the world with eminent ensembles, including Les Filles de Sainte-Colombe, Ensemble for Early Music, Ensemble Sequentia, the Waverly Consort and the English Concert. She has participated in nearly 100 recordings for Virgin Classics, Avie, Nonesuch, hm usa, Simac, and Channel Classics, among others. Whilst her speciality lies in the viol consort music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Gillespie has participated in many performances of both medieval and contemporary music.
Most of her professional engagements in recent years have been with the award-winning viol consorts Fretwork and Phantasm. These ensembles have won awards, including two Gramophone Awards, an Edison Award and a French Grand Prix du Disque for various recordings they have made, as well as appearing in concert and on radio and television from Finland to Japan to New Zealand.
During nearly 20 years at the Early Music Institute, Wendy Gillespie has taught classes focusing on performance of medieval, renaissance and baroque music, conducted classes reading early notation, coached both large and small ensembles and taught viola da gamba and vielle. Vice-President of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, Gillespie is also a member the Executive Board of the Medieval Studies Institute at Indiana University and its Research and University Graduate School. Gillespie is in great demand throughout the US and Europe as a tutor at specialist courses for viola da gamba players and an experienced teacher of players of the viol on all levels.