University of Wisconsin–Madison

About MEMF

The Festival and Workshop

The Madison Early Music Festival (MEMF) was created in 2000 to provide an opportunity for musicians, scholars, teachers, and early music enthusiasts to gather and exchange information and ideas about medieval, Renaissance, and baroque music, and to bring acclaimed early music artists to the Midwest to perform in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin. There are opportunities for everyone, from those who simply enjoy listening to concerts and lectures to early music scholars, along with performance opportunities for amateurs and professionals. All listeners, singers, players, and dancers are welcome!

The Festival Concert Series consists of 6 concerts and includes performances by ensembles-in-residence, as well as a Participant Concert and All-Festival Concert. In the Participant Concert, free to the public, participant consorts showcase the skills they have achieved under the coaching of MEMF faculty during the week. The All-Festival Concert, the culmination of the week, highlights faculty as well as participants. Each evening concert includes a pre-concert lecture by a renowned scholar or performer on a topic related to the Festival theme.

Workshop classes occupy five days of the Festival, with offerings ranging from beginner-level instruction to advanced master classes and consorts. Class topics include vocal and instrumental technique, historical performance and dnace practices, and specific early music repertoires. A midday lecture series expands evening pre-concert lectures for workshop participants and includes additional lectures.

Special events are open to the public and take place throughout the week of the Festival. There are several mid-day “bonus” lectures that are free and open to the public and a ball featuring period dance instruction and music provided by the MEMF faculty – costumes welcome.

MEMF is also a presenting partner for the Handel Aria Competition. The competition, sponsored by MEMF supporters Dean and Orange Schroeder, is the only such competition in the country. The final round will be on Friday, June 8, 2018 at 7:30 pm in Mills Concert Hall (455 N. Park Street), and is open to the public. In addition to the winners being determined by a panel of distinguished judges, the audience chooses an audience favorite. For more information, please visit: handelariacompetition.com.

The Rest of the Year

MEMF collaborates with other early music performers and presenters in and near Madison in order to cultivate local early music activity. In addition to partnering with major presenters such as Early Music Now and the Wisconsin Union Theater to host visiting ensembles during the year, we maintain a list of early music events in the area. Visit the Events page to view the calendar and submit event listings.

MEMF also sponsors entertaining, theme-related fundraising events taking place in the Madison area throughout the year.

Where We Are

The annual Festival and Workshop takes place on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, in the George L. Mosse Humanities Building near the shores of beautiful Lake Mendota and the college-town atmosphere of State Street.

Museums, bicycle and nature trails, sailing, interesting architecture, culturally historical sites, and a broad selection of restaurants, pubs, and ice cream and cheese shops (a local specialty in the Dairy State!) are just a sampling of the leisure options available to summertime visitors.