Welcome to the Madison Early Music Festival

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.

15th annual festival will feature a full week of concerts, expert lectures, special events, and a chance to perform with peers and faculty artists

The University of Wisconsin–Madison announces the 15th annual Madison Early Music Festival and Workshop (MEMF). In addition to a 6-event Festival Concert Series, lectures and workshops will provide opportunities to learn and practice instrumental and vocal skills, become familiar with historical performance practices and repertoire, learn about the featured music through the lenses of history and culture, and perform with other participants and faculty artists.

When: July 12-19, 2014

Concerts» 7-concert series open to the public

Lectures» Free pre-concert lectures by renowned musicologists, historians, artists, and linguists

Workshop faculty» Renowned performers and teachers in voice, strings, brass, musicology, and more

Special events» Costume ball and more

Handel Aria Competition» Encouraging emerging singers to explore the repertoire of Handel

Questions? Please see the contact page for detailed contact information»

Tickets for individual concerts are $20 (students $17). The All Festival Concert Pass is $75 and includes admission to all 5 evening concerts. Purchase tickets: online; at the Vilas Hall Box Office; at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office (Memorial Union); by calling 608-265-ARTS (2787); or at the door. Note: 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.

The 2014 Madison Early Music Festival will awaken your senses with the blossoming 14th century of sacred and secular Italian culture that flourished primarily in Florence, Milan, and Ferrara, with important connections to the exiled Papal court in Avignon. A distinct mix of musical, literary, and artistic elements created a rich bouquet of Latin composition from the first generation of Humanists, the cultivation of the Renaissance styles of art, and the fresh growth of Italian dance music. Ironically, patron tastes leaned toward the more fashionable French music and musicians, and the new Italian style withered by the end of the 14th century, paving the way for the dominance of the Franco-Flemish school of musical composition in the Italian peninsula.

Featured concert artists:
Toronto Consort»
Ex Umbris

Early in the 16th century, renewed interest in the great 14th century poet Petrarch attracted the attention of composers, who were musically inspired by the text painting found in his lyrical poetry. Petrarch’s Italia Mia (1344), a monumental letter in which, "heavy with grief," he yearns for a peaceful and unified Italy, sets off the historical timeline for the week. 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. The week will feature music from the great Italian composers of the era, including Francesco Landini, Johannes Ciconia, Cipriano de Rore, Orlando di Lassus, and Giaches de Wert, plus lectures and classes supplying nourishment and illumination for this garden of Italian delight.

The Madison Early Music Festival is a program of the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies, presented in partnership with the UW-Madison School of Music.

MEMF Directors

Directors of the Madison Early Music Festival are Cheryl Bensman-Rowe (Artistic Director), Paul Rowe (Artistic Director), and Chelcy Bowles (Program Director). Click for bios»

Help support the Madison Early Music Festival»

Questions? Contact MEMF Program Director Chelcy Bowles at cbowles@dcs.wisc.edu or

Sponsors and Presenting Partners of MEMF 2014

Dane Arts Madison Concourse Hotel