L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres is not limited to citizens who respect French “civil law” and are over 30; the prestigious organization, established in 1957 and confirmed as part of the Ordre national du Merité by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963, occasionally presents awards to “foreign luminaries.” One of the principal distinctions of France, it is awarded to up to 200 persons a year.
Anne Azéma, the blond-tressed Artistic Director of Boston Camerata, was just designated one of those luminaries, a Chevalier (“Knight”), a “distinction qui rend hommage à vôtre parcours remarquable.”
Azéma, born in France, has lived in Boston for many years and became a citizen of the United States in 2004. Well known to Boston audiences for her many years as soloist with Boston Camerata (of which she became Artistic Director in 2008), she also is a distinguished scholar and researcher, leading her own musical teams on a series of original programs (concerts and recordings) of Medieval music. Among other rewards she is a co-recipient of the Grand Prix du Disque.
Boston Camerata, renowned for its performances of early music, was founded under the umbrella of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, but it was Joel Cohen who established its visibility on the Boston and international music scene after he took over as Music Director in 1968. Under the auspices of Radio France, Boston Camerata began touring Europe in 1974 and has carried on an international touring schedule ever since. Cohen is now Music Director Emeritus.
Azéma leaves this week for concerts in the south of France followed by recitals and concerts of Medieval German music in Germany. She returns in time for Boston Camerata’s first concert of the season on Sunday, October 31, at Harvard Memorial Church. The concert at 4 pm, entitled “Veni, Imeneo!”, calls on the Roman god of marriage to celebrate that institution as it was in Cinquecento Italia with songs by Monteverdi, Dufay, Josquin, and Marenzio. Perhaps BMInt readers will get a chance to see her new medal, an eight-point, silver green-enameled asterisk with the inscription “République Française.“