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Questions for Maria Coldwell, Exec. Director of Early Music America

Maria Coldwell introduces us to Early Music America, talks about some of its future projects, and describes her role as its Executive Director.

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Photo: Courtesy of Early Music America

Maria Coldwell is the Executive Director of Early Music America.

Maria Coldwell is the Executive Director of Early Music America, the most prominent organization of its kind in North America.

What is Early Music America?

Early Music America is the national arts service organization that serves and strengthens the early music community in North America and raises public awareness of early music. EMA was founded in 1985 and provides its 3,000 members with publications, advocacy, and technical support.

EMA publishes the quarterly magazine Early Music America.

We maintain a large web site with member profiles, an early music touring ensembles roster, a national calendar of concerts and workshops, and hundreds of music sound files to listen to or download at no cost.

Each year we give out awards to honor distinguished members of the field. (In June 2009, Indiana University faculty member Stanley Ritchie received our Howard Mayer Brown Award for lifetime achievement in the field of early music).

We also award several scholarships each year to full-time students studying early music at summer workshops. We present bi-annual national conferences about early music and frequent recording or performance competitions.

Members of EMA receive free access to Grove Music Online and the Naxos Music Library.

There is a Medieval/Renaissance competition coming up. Can you tell us about it?

EMA’s third Medieval/Renaissance Music Competition Finals will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 at 7:30pm in Corpus Christi Church (home of the distinguished early music series Music Before 1800) in New York City.

Three finalist ensembles will participate: Ensemble Alkemia (Montreal) performing Spanish Renaissance music; Musica Fantasia (Montreal) performing 14th-century Italian repertory; and Plaine & Easie (Seattle) performing English Renaissance music.

The winner of the competition receives a cash prize (the Unicorn Prize) and the opportunity to perform on 3 great early music concert series: Early Music Now (Milwaukee), Early Music Guild (Seattle), and Renaissance & Baroque (Pittsburgh).

The winner will also be featured on Harmonia and in Early Music America magazine.

You are EMA’s executive director. What are some of your responsibilities?

As executive director, I am charged with providing leadership and vision for the organization, and I work with a national 30-member Board of Directors in that effort. I’m in charge of financial management and fundraising for EMA.

I also supervise the staff of 3 in Seattle, and the editor of Early Music America magazine, Ben Dunham (who lives and works in Massachusetts), reports to me. I am the primary “project manager” for EMA—I plan the conferences and competitions and various projects like the Touring Ensembles Roster or the National Survey of the Field.

I also represent the organization (and the field of early music) as a spokesperson at various national and international conferences and meetings.

Are there any future plans for EMA that you can share with us?

Our next national conference will take place in Berkeley, CA in conjunction with the Berkeley Festival in June 2010; the details are still being worked out.

While our previous conferences have focused primarily on “professional development” for artists and organizations, we hope to focus this conference on the interaction between scholars and performers of early music, with some scholarly sessions and some participatory workshop sessions.

We’re starting a blog (isn’t everyone?), and we’re exploring the possibility of having an EMA web channel that programs and streams EMA members’ music online. We’re always looking for new ways to build public awareness of early music.

More Information…

For more information, contact Early Music America at 206-720-6270 or 888-SACKBUT, or visit the EMA web site.

Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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