Early Music Program
The Five College Early Music Program offers a variety of opportunities to engage with the rich and varied repertoire of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music.
Founded in 1979, the Five College Early Music Program (EMP) is a collaboration among schools, programs, and teachers in the Five College Consortium to offer students and affiliates the opportunity to explore the rich and varied music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Participants may take private lessons, participate in chamber music courses or larger ensembles, or study historical dance, under the guidance of specialist instructors in the field of early music. The Early Music Program also hosts or co-hosts performances and residencies by professional early music performers and ensembles.
Faculty and Instructors
Michael Barrett, Five College Collegium, program director
Catherine Bell, voice, vocal ensembles (Voces Feminae). Medieval Ensemble
Dan Meyers, recorder, early winds, Recorder Ensemble, Renaissance wind ensemble
Nona Monahin, Renaissance/Baroque Dance
Meg Pash, lute, Lute Ensemble, Dance Band, Renaissance/Baroque Dance, 17th-century Song Seminar, mixed ensembles
Laurie Rabut, violin, viola de gamba, string ensembles, mixed ensembles
Alice Robbins, viola de gamba, Baroque cello, string ensembles, mixed ensembles
Emily Samuels, recorder, recorder ensembles
Courses and Ensembles
Fall 2023 Early Music Courses
|Subject||Course #||Sect #||Course Title||Instructor(s)||Institution||Meeting Times|
Five College Collegium
Hampshire HACC-0147 (early fall 2022)
Mount Holyoke College MUSIC-147A (late fall 2022)
UMass Amherst MUSIC 578-01
The Five College Collegium is the flagship ensemble of the Five College Early Music Program. The ensemble is made up of experienced singers and instrumentalists from the Five College Consortium, and prepares four large-scale projects in the course of the academic year for public performance. The Collegium rotates its rehearsal residency among the schools in the Five College system, and focuses on repertoire from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Whenever possible, the Collegium invites professional musicians as guests to work with the ensemble on material that is relevant to the current project.
If Collegium is meeting at your home institution in a given half semester, you may register (with instructor approval, after audition) through your college’s registration system. Otherwise, please use the Five College cross-registration system.
Early Music Chamber Ensembles
Mount Holyoke College MUSIC-143H
This course offers opportunities to play and sing chamber music from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras, collaborating with musicians from the Five Colleges and with the support of a specialist coach. Ensemble members will draw on historical context and performance practice as they refine performance technique and ensemble skills. Singers and instrumentalists will be sorted into ensembles based on level— from beginner to advanced— and areas of interest. Chamber ensembles also offer an opportunity to develop skills for more advanced projects such as those of the Five College Collegium. (See MUSIC-147A.) The Early Music Program has a large collection of historical instruments to loan.
Early Music Chamber Ensembles
Below are descriptions of some of the many ensembles that can be formed under the heading of MHC Music 143H, Early Music Chamber Ensemble. For more details, contact the instructor linked below or program director Michael Barrett.
All levels, beginner to advanced, grouped by experience. Opportunity to study and play Renaissance Viol consort repertoire for 3-6 viols (treble, tenor, bass). Beginning classes will learn basic Viola da Gamba technique and will be able to play simple consort pieces by semester end. Instruments are available for enrolled students. Led by Laurie Rabut and Alice Robbins.
For experienced modern violin family string players. Violin, viola, cello and bass students will study late Renaissance and Baroque style bowing and playing techniques and appropriate performance practice through the study and playing of ensemble pieces from the time period 1550-1750. A limited number of gut strung instruments and early bows are available for enrolled students. Led by Laurie Rabut and Alice Robbins.
These ensembles will focus on interpreting the music of the Renaissance and Baroque eras on the four commonly-played sizes of recorders (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass). Participants will learn recorder technique, ensemble skills, and performance practices applicable to Renaissance and Baroque music. Some instruments are available to borrow. Led by Dan Meyers and Emily Samuels.
This ensemble will focus on Renaissance music for historical reed and brass instruments, the forerunners of the modern oboe, bassoon, trombone, and trumpet. Participants will learn technique, ensemble skills, and the repertoire of Renaissance civic wind bands, in an ensemble of three to six players. Led by Dan Meyers.
Music as it was played for dancers in the 16th to 18th centuries, and adapted for concert music by composers from Monteverdi to Bach, from pavan and galliard to minuet, sarabande, and gigue. Open to intermediate and advanced players of recorder, flute, violin, viola, cello, viola da gamba, lute, and guitar. Led by Meg Pash.
Open to beginning through advanced players of lute and guitar (any style). There are a limited number of lutes available, and guitarists will find it easy and fun to make the transition to lute while playing renaissance songs, dance music, and improvising renaissance-style over familiar chord progressions. Led by Meg Pash.
For advanced singers, and players of continuo instruments including lute, guitar, harpsichord, viola da gamba, and cello. 17th-century solos, duos, and trios, including English lute songs, French airs de cour, and Italian arias. Led by Meg Pash.
Depending upon interest, Medieval ensemble may focus on topics including Gregorian chant, 13th-century monophonic and polyphonic song, instrumental dances, 14th-century chanson, etc. Led by Catherine Bell.
Voces Feminae performs music from a wide variety of eras and cultures, centering on music written before 1750. This ensemble focuses primarily on literature that can be performed by treble voices. Led by Catherine Bell.
Early music chamber ensembles are administered through Mount Holyoke College. If you are not a Mount Holyoke student, please use the Five College cross-registration system.
Sixteenth- through eighteenth-century European social dance, contemporary with the eras of Elizabeth I and Shakespeare in England, the Medicis in Italy, Louis XIV in France, and colonial America. The focus will be on learning the dances, supplemented by historical and social background, discussion of the original dance sources, and reconstruction techniques.
Crosslisted as: DANCE-127
Continuation of Renaissance and Baroque Dance I. Sixteenth- through eighteenth-century European social dance, contemporary with the eras of Elizabeth I and Shakespeare in England, the Medicis in Italy, Louis XIV in France, and colonial America. The focus will be on learning the dances, supplemented by historical and social background, discussion of the original dance sources, and reconstruction techniques.
Crosslisted as: DANCE-128
Renaissance/Baroque Dance I and II are Mount Holyoke College classes. If you are not a Mount Holyoke student, please use the Five College cross-registration system.
Individual Performance Study (private lessons)
Individual performance study (private lessons) is administered through Mount Holyoke College. If you are not a Mount Holyoke student, please use the Five College cross-registration system.
Some examples of instruments that may be studied privately include:
- Baroque flute
- Other early winds (e.g. sackbut)
- Baroque strings
Interest Form and Auditions
If you’re interested in participating in the Early Music Program, please fill out the following survey form, which will also link you to a form for scheduling an audition. If you have any questions, please contact program director Michael Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!