Five College Early Music Ensembles

Early Music Ensemble
Early Music ensembles provide a wide variety of opportunities for singers and players to study and perform on many levels.

Note about Fall 2020

Due to the pandemic and limitations on faculty and students being physically present on more than one campus, most Early Music ensembles will not meet in person during fall semester 2020.  There will be an on-line Renaissance Dance class, a virtual Renaissance dance ensemble (with lots of emphasis on Renaissance improvisation), and a weekly virtual meeting of the Five College Collegium, in which we will consider Renaissance repertoire with scores provided, listen to recordings and discuss. Other options may be possible.  Remote private lessons in recorder, lute, viola da gamba and various Renaissance winds will also be available at the usual Five College rates for private lessons.  Please refer to the Early Music Program website and the Mount Holyoke and University of Massachusetts course catalogs for descriptions of our usual ensembles- we hope we can return to normal sooner than later!   

If you think you might be interested in participating in any of these offerings, plan to sign up for an individual Zoom audition/information session.  We will hold these auditions on August 25–27. 

An audition or simply a quick chat should only take a few minutes of your time.  Please sign up for exact time during the first week of classes and be sure to leave your email address so you can be sent the Zoom meeting id and password.  

Feel free to write with any questions: or visit the Five College Early Music website.

The Five College Early Music Program, directed by Robert Eisenstein, sponsors a number of performing ensembles, open by audition or permission of the instructor. Ensemble credit is available for UMass, MHC and HC students. Normally, auditions are conducted at the audition/information sessions held at the beginning of each semester at each of the Five Colleges. Watch this page for information about schedules and possible online audition procedures for Fall 2020.

The Five College Early Music Collegium

For singers interested in large-scale Renaissance choral works, one-on-a-part ensembles and/or occasional solos; historical instrumentalists of all sorts. Directed by Robert Eisenstein.

Euridice Ensembles

Our umbrella organization for faculty/student chamber groups specializing in 17th and 18th-century music. Modern and early string, wind and keyboard players from all five campuses are invited to participate in these historical performance-oriented bands. The primary ensemble is a small baroque chamber orchestra. Be coached and play or sing alongside recognized professionals! Led by Robert Eisenstein and Laurie Rabut.

Voces Feminae

Our women's vocal ensemble, a small ensemble of women's voices concerned primarily but not entirely with Medieval repertory. Directed by Catherine Bell.

The following ensembles are scheduled according to participants' availability.

17th-Century Song Seminar

For singers, keyboard players, lutenists, gambists, guitarists and cellists. Masterclass format. Focus on repertoire, performance style, techniques, ornamentation and sources. 

Medieval Ensembles

Depending upon interest, medieval ensemble might consider various topics including Gregorian chant, 13th century monophonic and polyphonic song, instrumental dances, 14th century chanson, etc.

Renaissance & Baroque Dance

Group class in 16th-18th century social dances from Arbeau to Feuillet: branle, almain, pavane, gallaird, English country dance, minuet and more. Includes opportunities to dance with live music.

Renaissance & Baroque Dance Band

For players of recorder, flute, violin, viola, 'cello, viola de gamba, lute and guitar. Includes opportunities to play for the Renaissance and Baroque Dance Class.

Other Ensembles include:

  • Renaissance Wind Band
  • Lute Ensemble
  • Viol Consort
  • Recorder Consorts

Individual and Group Lessons in Early Music Instruments

For modern instrumentalists, singers and beginners who wish to learn an early instrument—no prior experience required. The Early Music Program owns a wide variety of historical instruments available for student use. Lessons are available for:

  • Recorder
  • Viola da gamba and baroque ‘cello
  • Lute
  • Renaissance Winds