The San Francisco Early Music Society Announces Cancellation of the 16th Biennial Berkeley Festival & Exhibition

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The San Francisco Early Music Society Announces Cancellation of the 16th Biennial Berkeley Festival & Exhibition

The San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) and its Board of Directors today announced that it will cancel the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition which was scheduled to take place in June because of concerns over the coronavirus. Since its inauguration in 1990, the Festival has been recognized as one of the foremost events of its kind, bringing together early music performers and enthusiasts for a week of concerts, lectures, master classes, film screenings and more in Berkeley, California. In association with Early Music America, this year's Festival was to be the first to expand to San Francisco.

"Because the health of our artists, production team, patrons and wider community comes first, we will be cancelling the 16th biennial Berkeley Festival & Exhibition," said Derek Tam, executive director of SFEMS and artistic director of the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition. "We did not come to this decision lightly. Each Festival represents the culmination of two years of planning and preparation, of anticipation transformed into joy. But even as we dismantle the sprawling structure of the Festival, our attention must turn to the immense task of stewarding SFEMS through this unprecedented crisis, while fulfilling our mission to promote the early music which sustains our souls."

Patrons who have already purchased tickets for the Festival may ask for a full refund, or they may choose to give their tickets back to the Festival as a tax-deductible donation. All donations help to cover the significant costs SFEMS has already incurred, and may potentially also help to provide honoraria for the Festival's participating artists.

The Berkeley Festival & Exhibition is produced by the San Francisco Early Music Society, and was conceived of and founded by Robert Cole, then director of Cal Performances, and the late Joseph Spencer, then SFEMS president. Over the years, the Festival has presented many memorable events: Mark Morris Dance Group's interpretation of Rameau's Platée; Le Carousel du Roi, featuring dressage horses and riders executing elaborate ballets from 17th-century France accompanied by shawms and sackbuts; and the North American premiere of a long-lost Mass by Alessandro Striggio for 40 and 60 voices.

For future updates regarding additional programs of SFEMS, including their summer workshops, please visit


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