The San Diego Early Music Society is a non-profit organization founded to showcase the musical treasures of the medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, as performed on period instruments and in accordance with historical practice. The Society was established in 1981 and has presented concerts in churches, small halls, museums, and homes—settings for which the music was composed.
Artists internationally renowned for their performances and recordings are presented in concert each season. World-class vocal and instrumental soloists, ensembles, and chamber orchestras perform an exciting repertoire from various periods and countries.
Since its founding, the Society has maintained a special place in the musical life of San Diego. We are a community of people bound together by the love of music from about 1200 on until roughly 1800, either sung or played on instruments.
We are best known for presenting concerts by renowned visiting artists. The Society embarked on this role in 1981 and, through us, San Diego has become known as a place to see some of the best performers of early music. And what a rich roster! Starting with Emma Kirkby and Anthony Rooley, we have presented such notables as Jordi Savall, Kuijken Quartet, Trevor Pinnock, Paul O’Dette, The Tallis Scholars, Baltimore Consort, Piffaro, Concerto Köln, the Academy of Ancient Music, Orlando Consort, Ensemble Caprice, Jean Rondeau, Le Poème Harmonique, and Europa Galante among many, many others.
SDEMS also has a long tradition of grassroots music making among members. For many years, we assembled for a weekend workshop every May on Mount Palomar that involved master classes, impromptu sessions, conversations, and a lot of fun. Among beautiful surroundings, though in prosaic buildings, the music bubbled out all day Saturday and most of Sunday. People brought along and played amazing instruments they had made.
We not only love early music, but also share it. Both members and performers have visited schools or attended group gatherings around San Diego. They played and sang, explained, demonstrated their instruments, and answered questions. At one school, our visiting performers asked the kids, “How many of you play the recorder?” and were amazed when the entire group raised their hands. At another such event, a performer explained the concept of falsetto singing, using examples from Michael Jackson and Justin Bieber, surprising and delighting the kids. SDEMS has also presented outreach on the university level, and to women’s clubs.