The Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Concerts (running this year from June 9th to June 15th) have been part of BEMF since the very first Festival in 1981. BEMF itself was modeled after the great Early Music festivals of our European counterparts—festivals where “fringe” events running alongside the main festival events were a popular and much anticipated aspect of the festival-going experience. BEMF’s Fringe Concerts, originally conceived and referred to as Concurrent Events highlight and lift up (primarily) local, up-and-coming Early Music artists and ensembles. The term “fringe concert” denotes concerts that are entirely artist-produced from beginning to end, running in parallel with the official festival events, as opposed to concerts that present works which exist on the fringe of the Early Music era.
The first Festival in 1981 included 5 official Concurrent (or Fringe) Events. For the upcoming 2013 Festival, we have a total of 96 Fringe Concerts taking place throughout a full week of official Festival Concerts and Events. Fringe performers set the price of admission to their events, and many of these concerts are indeed free, or offer reduced admission to members of colleague organizations.
All potential Fringe performers are required to submit a recording as part of their application form, and when registering their event, they are required to adhere to a strict set of scheduling guidelines which denote the specific times during which Fringe Concerts may be scheduled, so as not to conflict with the main Festival Concerts.
The Fringe Concert Series has grown enormously, particularly in the last decade—not just in size, but in overall quality and level of professionalism. While it still includes numerous performances by beloved local artists, many of whom have made an enormous contribution to the early music scene in Boston over the decades, it has come increasingly to include artists and ensembles who have been presented at one time or another as part of the Festival proper. To name but a few: the Sarasa Ensemble, first presented on the BEMF Concert Series in the 2008-2009 Season, and appearing again in 2013-2014, will present a Fringe Concert on Friday of Festival Week; the marvelous Baroque violinist Rachel Barton Pine, who appeared at the 2011 Festival with her ensemble Trio Settecento, will perform a Fringe Concert with harpsichordist Paul Cienniwa, also on Friday of the Festival; and the venerable Newberry Consort, which presented a tour de force Fringe Concert in 2011, will be appearing as one of the Festival Main Concerts, on Thursday, June 13th.
Another Fringe event of which we take special note is one produced by BMInt writer, Christopher Greenleaf. On Wednesday morning, June 2nd, at Church of the Covenant, Newbury at Berkeley, “Beethoven & the Piano” will present late chamber and solo scores played by pianists Yi-heng Yang, Randall Love, and Stephen Porter on Rod Regier’s fine conjectural Viennese fortepiano after Graf, conveying perhaps, what this music sounded like when the elderberry ink was still damp on the page.
The entire Fringe listing is here.