About MEMF

The Festival and Workshop

The Madison Early Music Festival (MEMF), a program of the Mead Witter School of Music, was created in 2000. The founders sought to provide an opportunity for musicians, scholars, teachers, and early music enthusiasts. This group could gather and exchange information and ideas about medieval, Renaissance, and baroque music. Each year, acclaimed early music artists are brought to the Midwest to perform in Madison, Wisconsin.

There are opportunities for everyone, from those who simply enjoy listening to concerts and lectures to early music scholars. There are performance opportunities for amateurs and professionals alike. All listeners, singers, players, and dancers are welcome!

The Festival Concert Series consists of 6 concerts. This includes performances by ensembles-in-residence, a Participant Concert, and the All-Festival Concert. In the Participant Concert, consorts showcase the skills they achieved under the coaching of MEMF faculty. The All-Festival Concert, the culmination of the week, highlights faculty as well as participants. Each evening concert includes a pre-concert lecture. Lectures are given by a scholar or performer on a topic related to the Festival’s theme.

Workshop classes occupy five days of the Festival. Offerings range from beginner-level instruction to advanced master classes and small ensembles. Class topics include vocal and instrumental technique, historical performance and dance, and specific early music repertoire. A midday lecture series expands pre-concert lectures for workshop participants and includes additional lectures.

Special events are open to the public and take place throughout the week of the Festival. There are several mid-day lectures that are free and open to the public. A dance event featuring period dance instruction features live music performed by the MEMF faculty.

The Rest of the Year

MEMF collaborates with other early music groups to cultivate regional early music activity. Through partnerships with presenters, visiting ensembles are brought to the area throughout the year. In addition, we maintain a list of early music events in the area. Visit the Events page to view the calendar and submit event listings.

MEMF also sponsors entertaining, theme-related fundraising events in the Madison area each spring.

Where We Are

The annual Festival and Workshop take place on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, in the George L. Mosse Humanities Building. Situated near the shores of beautiful Lake Mendota and bustling State Street, you will experience a great college-town atmosphere.

Museums, bicycle and nature trails, sailing, culturally historical sites, and interesting architecture fill the area. Take advantage of a broad selection of restaurants, pubs, and ice cream and cheese shops. These are just a sampling of the options available to summertime visitors.