Concert Series

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 15th year celebration. We are already looking forward to next year.

MEMF 2015 will run July 11 through July 18. Our theme is Slavic Discoveries: Early Music from Eastern Europe.

New information will become available in the spring of 2015. In the meantime we leave all 2014 information here for your reference.

The MEMF Concert Series includes 4 individual concerts featuring MEMF guest ensembles, a Handel Aria Competition Concert, a free Participant Concert showcasing consorts that have been coached throughout the week by MEMF faculty, and the All-Festival Concert presented by participants, faculty, and guest artists.

Just some of the performances for the 2014 festival

Toronto Consort: Saturday, July 12, 7:30pm

LIBER: Sunday, July 13, 7:30pm

Ex Umbris: Tuesday, July 15, 7:30pm

Handel Aria Competition: Thursday, July 17, 7:30pm

MEMF Participant Concert: Friday, July 18, 1:00pm

Trefoil: Friday, July 18, 7:30pm

All-Festival Concert: Saturday, July 19, 7:30pm

Click for concert ticket info»

Toronto Consort

Saturday, July 12, 7:30pm
Luther Memorial Church

The Da Vinci Codex

Leonardo da Vinci is recognized today as one of the greatest intellects and creative artist of all times, renowned as a painter, sculptor, engineer, writer, scientist, and designer. What is less well known is that in his own time, Leonardo was equally renowned as a performing musician. “The Da Vinci Codex” is a fascinating look at the musical world of this supreme genius.

This fully scripted show features dances, fantasias, and vocal works from the time of Leonardo, including music by composers he knew, songs he would have heard, and dances he might have danced to. Interwoven with the music are selections from Leonardo’s own writings, and from his contemporaries. The evening is built around Leonardo’s life, and includes sections inspired by the painting of the Last Supper, the Mona Lisa, his life in Florence and Milan, and his last days in France. Da Vinci Codex was conceived and scripted by Alison Mackay.

David Fallis, director
Alison Melville, recorder, early flute
Michelle DeBoer, soprano
John Pepper, bass
Paul Jenkins, tenor
Katherine Hill, soprano
Terry McKenna, lute and guitar,
Ben Grossman, hurdy gurdy, percussion

Learn more about Toronto Consort»

Pre-concert lecture by Gail Geiger, Professor of Art History, University of Wisconsin–Madison.


Sunday, July 13, 7:30pm
Luther Memorial Church

Rome, San Pietro, and the Papacy

The fourteenth-century Papacy found itself at the center of one of the most divisive political conflicts in history. The Schism of the Western Church led to the election of up to 3 popes, 1 in Rome, 1 in Avignon, and 1 in Pisa! The Schism created an enormous outlet for new compositions supporting 3 different papal seats. LIBER explores the music of this tumultuous time, bringing to life spectacular music performed in San Pietro, Rome, as well as the celebratory motets written for the Avignon, Roman, and Pisan popes. Composers include Antonius de Civitate, Matteo da Perugia, Humbertus de Salinis, and Guillaume Du Fay.

William Hudson, tenor
Andrew Rader, countertenor
Daniel Carberg, tenor
Matthew Leese, baritone

Learn more about LIBER»

Pre-concert lecture by John W. Barker, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Wisconsin–Madison.


Tuesday, July 15, 7:30pm
Music Hall

Epic Song: Tales of Love and Adventure in the Italian Renaissance

The musicians of Ex Umbris present musical renditions drawn from 3 epic accounts of knightly adventure: Matteo Maria Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato, Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, and Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata. The heroic and romantic exploits of Orlando, Ruggiero, Bradamante, and the knights and ladies of the First Crusade are expressed in historical musical settings, from the rustic singing of the 15th century cantastorie in the piazza, to the courtly madrigals and solo songs of the 16th and 17th centuries. The program also features selections from their CD, The Diamond of Ferrara.

Grant Herreid, voice, lute, theorbo
Paul Shipper, voice, lute, Renaissance and Baroque guitars, percussion
Tom Zajac, bagpipe, pipe and tabor, recorders, flutes, sackbut, percussion
Karen Hansen, viola da gamba, lira da braccio, Renaissance violin
Nell Snaidas, voice, Renaissance guitar
Christa Patton, Renaissance and Baroque harps

Pre-concert lecture by Jane Tylus, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature and Director of the Humanities Initiative at New York University.

Handel Aria Competition Concert

Thursday, July 17, 7:30pm
Music Hall

The only such competition in the U.S., this concert is the final round among 6 finalists chosen from over 50 contestants. The competition will be heard before a panel of 3 judges who will choose 3 winners. But the event will be open to the public, and the audience will choose a favorite from among the finalists. Tickets are $10 at the door; not included in the All-Festival pass.

Learn more about the Handel Aria Competition»

Pre-concert lecture by John W. Barker, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Wisconsin–Madison.

MEMF Participant Concert

Friday, July 18, 1:00pm
Morphy Recital Hall

Festival workshop participants perform in ensembles that have been coached by faculty artists throughout the week of the festival. There is no pre-concert lecture and no admission fee for this delightfully diverse concert.

No pre-concert lecture.


Friday, July 18, 7:30pm
Music Hall

Dio Mio! That’s Amore!

The unbridled love of God, country and women, the hunt, and even music itself burst forth in a flowering of song in the Italian courts and chapels of Italy in the fourteenth century. While French music explored a largely refined and delicate musical route, Italian composers turned towards a more florid and expressive style, one that would require great vocal and instrumental virtuosity to communicate strong passion and emotional depth. The trecento style, then, is the sudden appearance of dazzling technique and direct sexual experience, using melodic gestures with a common cultural bond between sacred and secular art.

This program is an exploration of the intimate connections between the sacred and secular musical works of the trecento, spanning from the music of the clergy, to the most erudite art music, to the music of the working-class members of the lay confraternities and the music played by the minstrels employed at court. The common thread in this diverse body of repertoire is the Italian fixation upon love.

Marcia Young, harp and voice
Drew Minter, harp and voice
Mark Rimple, countertenor and lute

Learn more about Trefoil»

Pre-concert lecture by Mark Rimple, Trefoil member and Professor of Music, University of West Chester.

All Festival Concert

Saturday, July 19, 7:30 pm
Luther Memorial Church

Trionfi: The Triumphs of Petrarch

Our culminating All Festival Concert will feature musical settings of Petrarch’s Trionfi, a long series of poems in which the poet searches for meaning in life while passing from one stage to the next, represented by Cupid, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time, and Eternity. Conducted by Grant Herreid.

Pre-concert lecture by Jelena Todorović, Assistant Professor of Italian Literature, University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Ticket information

Week-long Festival Concert Passes ($75) offer a savings of one-fourth over single ticket purchases. Both concert passes and single concert tickets ($20; $17 students) may be purchased via the following channels:

  • at the door before each concert (check or cash only*)
  • online here»
  • at the Vilas Hall Box Office (821 University Ave.) or the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office (Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St.)
  • by calling 608-265-ARTS (2787).

*Due to the inability to process credit cards in the 2014 concert venues, please be prepared to purchase tickets at the door with cash or check; advance tickets may be purchased with a credit card or check. On Saturday, July 12, the box office at the door (Luther Memorial Church) will open at 5:00 pm; all other concert nights, 6:00 pm.

Advance ticket sales begin May 1 at 11:30am