The formative music of the 17th century will get its place in the 21st-century spotlight later this month in Boulder. The Society for Seventeenth-Century Music hosts its annual conference here April 19-22.
College of Music Dean Robert Shay, who was among the musicologists who founded the society in the early 1990s, says the conference brings together music scholars from around the world. The 26th annual meeting is hosted by the College of Music and will be held at the Hotel Boulderado and includes paper presentations, panel discussions and performances of music written in the 1600s.
“As the society has grown, it has helped build a broader understanding of the 17th century as a unique period stylistically,” Shay explains. “The first operas, for example, are really products of this century, with Claudio Monteverdi’s 'L'Orfeo' and 'L’incoronazione di Poppea,' and Henry Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aenaes’ among the leading examples.
“Members of the society work on music from nearly every European country and the New World, too. Mexico will be the focus of two papers at this year's conference.”
Music of the early baroque period is having something of a renaissance, Shay says, and CU Boulder is part of that conversation—to the benefit of the students at the college.
“There are flourishing early music ensembles in many large cities that require specialized skills, and we want to provide insights and opportunities here that open students’ eyes to different repertoire and ways of making music.”
With the conference in town, College of Music students will get a unique chance to interact with the world’s best early music scholars. In addition to eye-opening presentations—Professor of Musicology Jeremy Smith and graduate student Jordan Hugh Sam present “My Sweet Child and Wife: Buckingham, James I and Homoeroticism in the English Anthem and Madrigal” on day one of the conference—on Friday night, April 20, attendees will fill Macky Auditorium for the finale of CU Presents’ 2017-18 Artist Series, a concert by Quicksilver Baroque Ensemble.
“We should always provide opportunities for our faculty and students to be a part of scholarly meetings like this. To be able to bring these experts here instead of traveling to them is a good enhancement,” Shay says. “It’s also great to be able to partner with the Artist Series.”
The early music exploration doesn’t end when Quicksilver and their ilk leave town on the 22nd. In the fall, renowned harpsichordist Robert Hill will join the faculty as professor of harpsichord and the first Eugene D. Eaton, Jr. Chair in Baroque Music Performance.
“Robert is one of the leading harpsichordists for the last few decades. He’s an example of a performer-scholar who has excelled at the highest levels in both areas, and he’s a sought-after collaborator. We’re thrilled to be welcoming him here,” Shay says.
The chair was created with a gift from the late Eugene Eaton, a CU Boulder alumnus who so enjoyed College of Music performances that he regularly watched via Livestream from his homes in Alaska and Arizona. Hill, who moves to Boulder this summer from the Musikhochschule in Freiburg, Germany, says Eaton was passionate about music, despite not being a musician himself.
“He was really tuned into what he got from music,” Hill says. “His gift is making it possible for me to specialize in baroque performance, but also work with the larger college community to communicate the importance of historically oriented music to Boulder audiences.”
He adds, “We need to think of the past as a different country from a musical perspective. And in order to appreciate music of a bygone era for what it was and truly study it, we need to acknowledge our remoteness from it.”
The Society for Seventeenth-Century Music conference is April 19-22 at the Hotel Boulderado. For more information, visit the society’s website. And for Quicksilver Baroque tickets, go to cupresents.org.