The Festival and Workshop
The Madison Early Music Festival (MEMF) was created in 2000 to provide an opportunity for musicians, scholars, teachers, and early music enthusiasts to gather and exchange information and ideas about medieval, Renaissance, and baroque music, and to bring acclaimed early music artists to the Midwest to perform in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin. There are opportunities for everyone, from those who simply enjoy listening to concerts and lectures to early music scholars, along with performance opportunities for amateurs and professionals. All listeners, singers, players, and dancers are welcome!
The Festival Concert Series consists of 6 concerts and includes performances by ensembles-in-residence, as well as a Participant Concert and All-Festival Concert. In the Participant Concert, free to the public, participant consorts showcase the skills they have achieved under the coaching of MEMF faculty during the week. The All-Festival Concert, the culmination of the week, highlights faculty as well as participants. Each evening concert includes a pre-concert lecture by a renowned scholar or performer on a topic related to the Festival theme.
Workshop classes occupy five days of the Festival, with offerings ranging from beginner-level instruction to advanced master classes and small ensembles. Class topics include vocal and instrumental technique, historical performance and dance practices, and specific early music repertoire. A midday lecture series expands evening 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 and a dance event featuring period dance instruction with live music performed by the MEMF faculty.
The Rest of the Year
MEMF collaborates with other early music performers and presenters in and near Madison in order to cultivate local early music activity. In addition to partnering with major presenters such as Early Music Now and the Wisconsin Union Theater to host visiting ensembles during the year, 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 taking place in the Madison area throughout the year.
Where We Are
The annual Festival and Workshop takes place on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, in the George L. Mosse Humanities Building near the shores of beautiful Lake Mendota and the college-town atmosphere of State Street.
Museums, bicycle and nature trails, sailing, interesting architecture, culturally historical sites, and a broad selection of restaurants, pubs, and ice cream and cheese shops (a local specialty in the Dairy State!) are just a sampling of the leisure options available to summertime visitors.