Alkemie “Mirroring the Other”
Alkemie looks at the Jewish experience in medieval Germany through newly-composed musical settings of Jewish texts and pieces.
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MIRRORING THE OTHER: REFLECTING JEWISH EXPERIENCE IN MEDIEVAL GERMANY
Alkemie looks at the Jewish experience in medieval Germany through newly-composed musical settings of Jewish texts and transcriptions of extant chant, monophonic (one voice) & polyphonic (multiple-voice) works. Stories are drawn from Yiddish epic tales and the Codex Manesse, as well as secular songs, religious poems, liturgical texts, and contemporary chronicles. Delight in the antics of an early Purimshpil and the onomatopoeic sounds of medieval life as well as the sheer beauty of the earliest Jewish chants that survive in Western notation.
Tracy Cowart (voice, harp, percussion)
David McCormick (vielle, percussion)
Elena Mullins (voice, percussion)
Sian Ricketts (voice, douçaines, recorders)
Niccolo Seligmann (vielles, gittern, scheitholt)
Alkemie exists to explore and share the life-affirming and alternative perspectives to be experienced in the sounds of centuries past. Comprised of singer-performers playing over a dozen instruments (including vieles, harps, psaltery, recorders, douçaines, and percussion), the ensemble has a particular interest in the porous boundaries between the court and folk music of the medieval period. Grounded in historical performance practice and fed by a love of experimentation, Alkemie’s performance on the Indianapolis Early Music Festival in June 2018 was lauded as “enchanting” and “indicating [the] future health” of the field of early music.”
Founded in 2013 and incorporated as non-profit since 2018, Alkemie is based in Brooklyn and also performs nationally. In 2018-2019, Alkemie inaugurated an ongoing partnership with the Medieval Studies program at Fordham University, and made their debut on the Music Before 1800 concert series in New York. Alkemie has also appeared at the Amherst Early Music Festival (New London, CT), Amherst Glebe Arts Response (AGAR – Amherst, VA), Beacon Hill Concert Series (Stroudsburg, PA), the Capitol Early Music Series (Washington, DC), Gotham Early Music Scene (GEMS – New York City), and the War Memorial Arts Initiative (Baltimore). In 2019-2020, Alkemie and Elliot Cole premiered a new setting of the fourteenth-century Morte Arthur on the Five Boroughs Music Series (New York). was also featured on the Cambridge Society for Early Music series (MA). Alkemie presented “Sweet Friendship” (a new program of late 15th-century French and Italian songs, dances, and poetry, including period dancing) at Fordham University in January 2020. In 2020-2021 Alkemie looks forward to premiering new programs featuring medieval German Jewish repertoire and the music of Hildegard von Bingen, as well as to the launch of the NYC-based initiative “Alkemie & Friends.”
Alkemie’s members are also committed to the lively teaching of medieval and Renaissance performance practice and history. Alkemie was in residence at Fairmont State University in 2016-2017, and has presented workshops and educational outreach programs at the Capitol Early Music Series (VA), Ramaz High School (NY), and at Fordham University (NY). Alkemie members teach collegiate and amateur students at Case Western Reserve University (OH), Fordham University (NY), the Strathmore Arts Center (MD), Amherst Early Music Festival (CT), the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin (OH) and through the Early Music Access Project (VA).
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