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Paul O'Dette's ¡JACARAS! Inaugurates New GEMAS Concert Series at Americas Society Tonight, 11/9

Gotham Early Music Scene (GEMS), as part of its milestone Fifth Anniversary celebration, announces "GEMAS," a new series of early music concerts in collaboration with the Americas Society featuring the early music of the Americas. The series will be co-directed by Americas Society Music Director Sebastian Zubieta and the celebrated soprano Nell Snaidas. The opening concert, by lutenist Paul O'Dette, will be performed tonight, November 9, 7:00 p.m., at Americas Society, 680 Park Avenue (between 68th and 69th Streets). This concert is part of Carnegie Hall's "Voices from Latin America" series this fall, which partners with outside organizations for performances in venues throughout the city.

Mr. O'Dette's program, entitled "¡Jácaras!", features 18th-century guitar music of Latin America composed by Santiago de Murcia, Manuel Alvarez, and anonymous Afro-Brazilian composers, including pieces from the Códice Saldívar No. 4, Cifras Selectas de Guitarra and Cifras de viola por varios autores (Coimbra).

Tickets are $20, or free to Americas Society members. A video sample and more information are available at

Gene Murrow, Executive Director of GEMS, noted: "The gorgeous baroque repertoire of Latin and South America, and the traditional music of French and Scottish settlers in Canada are attracting increasing interest from ensembles and audiences. The mission of the GEMAS series is to bring the best performances of early music of the Americas to New York audiences under the guidance of two of the acknowledged experts in the genre-Mr. Zubieta and Ms. Snaidas. Having the internationally revered lutenist Paul O'Dette inaugurate our series is a tremendous thrill."

Spring events in the GEMAS series include a concert by the vocal ensemble Meridianalis with instrumentalists from the Clarion Society, and a performance of repertoire, including music and dance, from an unusual manuscript originating in Trujillo, which is now Northern Peru. It was compiled around the year 1785 by the bishop of the area, Baltasar Jaime Martínez Compañón.

As one of the most influential figures in the early music field, Paul O'Dette helped define the technical and stylistic standards to which 21st-century performers of early music aspire, infusing the performance practice movement with a careful combination of historical awareness, idiomatic accuracy, and self-expression. Known best for his recitals and recordings of virtuoso solo lute music, O'Dette maintains an active international career as an ensemble musician as well, performing with many of the leading early music soloists and ensembles such as the acclaimed continuo ensemble, Tragicomedia. In addition to his activities as a performer, O'Dette is an avid researcher, having worked extensively on the performance and sources of 17th-century Italian and English solo song, continuo practices, and lute technique. He is at work on a forthcoming book on lute technique co-authored by Patrick O'Brien. He has published numerous articles on issues of historical performance practice and co-authored the Dowland entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. O'Dette is a professor of lute and director of early music at the Eastman School of Music, and serves as artistic director of the Boston Early Music Festival.

Gotham Early Music Scene, Inc. (GEMS) is a not-for-profit corporation that enhances the quality and financial stability of participating artists and organizations by:

¨ providing administrative, marketing, financial, and other support services to professional and amateur performing groups, institutions, presenters, and other organizations interested in early music;
¨ securing paid touring engagements throughout North America for New York-based early music artists;
¨ increasing audience size and diversity by enhanced publicity and access to early music events; and
¨ educating the public and the media about early music.

Founded in 2007 by a small group of leading figures in New York musical circles to serve and promote New York's early music community, GEMS has, in this short time:

¨ presented 91 New York City ensembles in concert, including an annual fall series showcasing established and emerging artists;
¨ provided adminstrative, marketing, and logistical services to more than 144 NYC cultural organizations and artists;
¨ exhibited at 14 national arts conferences and booked 101 paid nationwide engagements for NYC musical ensembles via its GEMS Live! Agency;
¨ provided well-paid engagements under Local 802 union contracts to dozens of professional musicians;
¨ served tens of thousands of audience members (more than 1,800 of whom received free tickets);
¨ taught more than 320 children the basics of music through its S'Cool Sounds semester-long elementary school teaching programs; and
¨ helped launch several new early music initiatives, including OperaOmnia, 4x4 Baroque Concerts, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, and Sinfonia New York.

The result of these and other efforts is the recognition by musicians, audiences, and patrons that New York has reasserted its postion as a major center of early music activity in the world.

With a budget of over $350,000, a Board of nine distinguished professionals, and a staff of six, GEMS is supported by The New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, several foundations, and a large roster of individual donors. For more information, visit

Americas Society is the premier forum dedicated to education, debate, and dialogue in the Americas. Its mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social, and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship. For more, go to

Photo Credit: Hanja Chlala

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