The return of the San Francisco Early Music Society‘s Berkeley Festival & Exhibition means an influx of fans and performers of Early Music – but the festival’s Artistic Director Robert Cole says this time around, there will be performances of repertoire that’s both earlier and later than usually included.

There are full listings at the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition website.

” Early music for so many years has been Bach and Before, Baroque and Before,” Cole says. “And only recently has been occasionally touching on Mozart, or something like that. This festival, we’ve stretched the boundaries of that considerably.” In 19 Main Stage concerts, there’s music from the 11th century, courtesy of the ensemble called Sequentia, all the way through Debussy, as played on a piano from 1913 by Alexei Lubimov in a special program called ‘Debussy as Early Music.’ Cole explains: “Early Music is not just about when the music was written. It’s more about how it is played. Is it performed in the way in which it was performed when it was written?” So there’s going to be a program by the musicians from the Valley of the Moon Music Festival of Schubert and Schumann, with guest singer Nicholas Phan. “We’re doing a Schumann Piano Quintet with a fortepiano, and strings with gut strings, and so on. It’s a very different sound, and of course it’s the sound that Schumann heard in his mind before he wrote the music.” There’s also a collaboration between Voices of Music and the San Francisco Girls Chorus, a concert version of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. “A girls chorus for which it was originally written, we think, as far as we know, because Purcell was teaching in a girl’s school at the time, so it being performed in this instance by San Francisco Girls Chorus – a wonderful group of singers, and really the perfect vehicle for this music.”