Early Music in Exile | Arts & Culture


Christopher Burroughs: Held annually since 2022, the Bloomington Early Music Festival’s mission is to explore underrepresented groups in music culture, and two years ago its theme was Celebrating women in early musicThen Arabia, Iberia and Latin America.This year’s festival is called exile music.

Dr. Carol Lambaff: Exile is very interesting because the performers are so creative in the way they think about exile. Sometimes, exile can be literal, for example, you are forcibly removed from your home country. So you might hear that musicians are fleeing some kind of persecution or, you know, fleeing revolution. For example, some, like French Baroque musicians who fled France after the revolution, and even some musicians who left Haiti, which is interesting. You think of Haiti as a revolutionary place, but of course, importantly, the Haitian Revolution was. You know, there’s a feeling of exile.

Christopher Burroughs: That’s Dr. Carolan Barfe. She teaches choral conducting at Indiana University and is a noted performer and researcher in medieval and Renaissance music.

Dr. Carol Lambaff: I am a board member of the Bloomington Early Music Festival, but I am also a long-time supporter. I performed at this festival many, many years ago and was on the festival’s program committee.

Christopher Burroughs: I spoke with Dr. Barfe about some of the bands that will be performing at this year’s festival, from Scotland to Afghanistan. The diversity of cultures represented is both surprising and exciting.

Dr. Carol Lambaff: I’m really excited to see that we’re going to have a show of like Scottish, Irish music, eventually in North America, like, Nova Scotia music, traditional music, to me it’s like a really interesting Thoughts like what does it mean to leave your home country and what do you bring with you? This also ties into some of the other elements we’ll see in the showcase show. So we’re going to be doing a show locally with little clips of different people from our community who are going to come and perform and we have a group of exiles from Afghanistan who are a family of musicians who are going to be performing in that show We were shown some Afghan music as part of the demo, which was really exciting, like it was an ongoing feature and we really brought our music from wherever we had, wherever we left and culture. On the closing night of the festival, we will have a Spanish band called Kantaria perform for the first time in the United States, and we are very much looking forward to their arrival. They are an extraordinary vocal ensemble performing music from 16th, 16th and 17th century Spain.

Christopher Burroughs: The festival will also feature educational workshops and events, including returning favorites: Sword battle on the high seas. These and a particularly enticing new demo.

Dr. Carol Lambaff: A history of chocolate that tells the story of its discovery in the so-called New World in the Western Hemisphere, and how it had its own history of change as it was transformed by European colonists and settlers. So we’re going to have a chance to taste some traditional chocolate, hot chocolate making and maybe some more modern versions, and it all feels like it’s cut from the same cloth, right? Historical music, but also kind of thinking about other ways in which we have history that has changed the culture around us, be it food, performance or swordplay. I guess we don’t sword fight, but you know.

Christopher Burroughs: [laughs]

Christopher Burroughs: Is there anything else you’d like to share about this year’s festival?

Dr. Carol Lambaff: Well, I have to say I’m really excited that we always have this for everyone and all of our events are free. So, with exceptions, I thought of pub hopping since the drinks were a little more expensive but everything else was free. So people should definitely take advantage of that, come to our concerts, come to our art shows, and these are some of the folks from Indianapolis who are recent immigrants from Afghanistan and Central Africa. The children created some amazing art. They will be on display. Come join the free sword fighting event offered by the Bloomington Early Music Festival.

Christopher Burroughs: Bloomington Early Music Festival Presents early music in exile Sunday, May 19-25. You can view the full performance schedule at: blemf.org. I’m Christopher Burrus from WFIU Arts.



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