Cincinnati Early Music Festival returns this winter

Greater Cincinnati will once again become a showcase of Western classical music thanks to the relaunch of a longstanding, weeks-long concert series.

The Cincinnati Early Music Festival returns in late January and runs through early March. Concerts featuring beloved works from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods will occur at churches and venues across the region.

The first official event is Feb. 2 at Northern Kentucky University’s Greaves Concert Hall. It’s a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” with Michael Delfín on harpsichord.

There’s a list of the current 14-show schedule below. Additional events will be made available on the festival’s website over the next few weeks.

A recent Heri et Hodie performance

“Relaunching this festival is meaningful to me personally because of my twin passions for early music but also for community connections,” said Krista Cornish Scott, one of the two people behind the relaunch.

“Welcoming people into a space that traditionally has been the realm of academics and professionals is a labor of love,” she continued. “I’m thrilled to see both the return of familiar faces and opportunities for new enthusiasts.”

A classical ‘reboot’

The Cincinnati Early Music Festival began as an annual event in 2014. Catacoustic Consort – an early music chamber ensemble based in the region – formed the event, led by then-board chair (and early music practitioner) Tina Gutierrez and artistic director Annalisa Pappano. However, after Pappano relocated to Germany, Christopher Wilke stepped in for 2018, renaming it the Cincinnati Early Music Celebration. He led operations for two years before the COVID-19 pandemic put large gatherings on pause.

Now, after a four-year absence, Cornish Scott and Erin Sigmund decided to spearhead the relaunch of the festival.

Cornish Scott is a professional musician and the director of Heri et Hodie, an intimate treble voice ensemble that revels in both medieval and modern music with an emphasis on the work of women composers. Sigmund, who works in marketing for a local nonprofit by day, refers to herself as an “enthusiastic amateur” when it comes to music.

The duo shares a love for Hildegard von Bingen and a “desire to build an inclusive, supportive, and welcoming community around early music in Cincinnati,” according to a release.

Sigmund and Cornish Scott noted a desire to create events accessible to the entire community. They described the festival as a welcoming space for anyone – whether it’s a College-Conservatory of Music graduate or a high school student who just discovered a composition by Guillaume de Machaut.

“In a city with the size, standing, and arts scene that Cincinnati has, early music presents a growth opportunity,” the pair said in a joint statement.

“This is particularly true for young people,” they continued. “What we’re exposed to, what we can access, is what we have the opportunity to enjoy and pursue. So it makes sense to provide as many opportunities to learn to love early music as possible.”

Festival schedule

  • Sunday, Jan. 28, 10:45 a.m. Knox Presbyterian Church, Hyde Park. The Knox Choir traditional worship service features music from Heinrich Schütz’s “Symphoniae Sacrae III” 
  • Friday, Feb. 2, 7 p.m. – Greaves Concert Hall, Northern Kentucky University. J.S. Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” performed by Michael Delfín, harpsichord
  • Saturday, Feb. 3, 4 p.m. – Church of Our Savior, Mt. Auburn. “The Last Master:” Music of Bernhard Hagen performed by Christopher Wilke on the Baroque lute
  • Sunday, Feb. 4, 3 p.m. – Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Kenwood. “Four Seasons with Seven Hills”
  • Sunday, Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m.  – The Loon, Northside. “Classical Revolution,” the early music edition
  • Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m. – St. Catharine of Siena Catholic Church, Westwood. Queen City 6: A night of Renaissance madrigals and motets
  • Thursday, Feb. 15, 11 a.m. – St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Montgomery. Cincinnati New Horizons band ensembles
  • Saturday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. – Church of the Redeemer, Hyde Park. Early music sing-a-long.
  • Sunday, Feb. 18, 3 p.m. – The Civic Garden Center, Avondale. “Hortus Deliciarum: Early Music in the Garden”
  • Sunday, Feb. 18, 5 p.m. – St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Terrace Park. Vespers for Lent with the Bach Ensemble
  • Tuesday, Feb. 20, 12:10 p.m. – Christ Church Cathedral, downtown. Music Live at Lunch featuring the Bach Ensemble at St. Thomas
  • Friday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m. – Northwood Cider Company, Norwood. Nerd Night & Saucy Sing-A-Long
  • Saturday, Feb. 24, 3 p.m. – Church of the Redeemer, Hyde Park. Early Music Festival Tapestry Concert
  • Sunday, Feb. 25, 3 p.m. – St. Martin of Tours, Cheviot. Heri et Hodie
  • Sunday, March 3, 3 p.m. – St. Peter in Chains Basilica, downtown. Gallicantus

Cincinnati Early Music Festival 

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