A 2016 MEMF workshop. MEMF is moving its administrative home to the Mead Witter School of Music as of February 2021.

The Madison Early Music Festival (MEMF) is moving from its administrative home in the UW-Madison Division of the Arts to a new administrative home in the Mead Witter School of Music as of February 2021. The festival will be known as the Madison Early Music Festival, a program of the Mead Witter School of Music. 

The partnership gives MEMF and the School of Music the opportunity to integrate and connect with existing curriculum, faculty, and students. The move also allows for increased access to acclaimed early music artists and increased resources available to program early music performances. 

MEMF Co-Artistic Directors Cheryl Bensman-Rowe and Paul Rowe will remain on staff with the festival through the spring 2022 semester.  

“MEMF is looking forward to having a more integral role at the Mead Witter School of Music, with opportunities during the academic year for students to study with guest musicians who specialize in historically informed performance,” Bensman-Rowe said. “Historical Performance is a growing field and we hope to entice students into exploring another career path in music.” 

MEMF was created in 2000 to provide an opportunity for musicians, scholars, teachers, students, and music enthusiasts to study Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music in its social, cultural, and political contexts, and to present concerts by acclaimed artists who specialize in historically informed performance of early music. 

“We refer to our MEMF community as family and would like to thank them for all of their enthusiasm,” Bensman-Rowe said. “MEMF has flourished because of them, and Madison became a recognized center for studying early music in the summer. We are extremely grateful for all of the support over the past 21 years.”

In spring 2022, a special finale event will mark the end of the MEMF as an annual summer festival to celebrate the beginning of its status as a fund to support early music initiatives. The event will also recognize the retirement of Bensman-Rowe and Rowe from MEMF, and is expected to consist of a concert featuring School of Music students and faculty, a guest ensemble, and participants from the MEMF community.

The original goal of the festival was to bring an intense experience of early music to increase sustained understanding, appreciation, and performing skills to the university and the community. Festivals lasted a week and featured a concert series, five days of workshop classes, lectures, student performances, and special events such as community dances. The 21st season of MEMF was offered as a free virtual performance series due to COVID-19.

Visit memf.wisc.edu for the latest updates.