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 vielles, harps, psaltery, gittern, 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, Alkemie is based in Brooklyn and also performs nationally; since 2018 they have maintained a partnership with the Medieval Studies program at Fordham University. In addition to growing a series in NYC, Alkemie has appeared at the Amherst Early Music Festival (New London, CT), Amherst Glebe Arts Response (AGAR – Amherst, VA), Beacon Hill Concert Series (Stroudsburg, PA), the Cambridge Society for Early Music (Cambridge, MA), the Capitol Early Music Series (Washington, DC), Five Boroughs Music Series (NYC) Gotham Early Music Scene (NYC), Music Before 1800 series (NYC), and the War Memorial Arts Initiative (Baltimore).
In 2020-2021 (despite circumstances and with much help), Alkemie debuted a recorded program of Medieval Ashkenazi and German music (“Mirroring the Other”), early American and English ballads and Renaissance consort repertoire (“Blood, Booze, and Betrayal”), and “Florilegium,” all of which featured new works from ensemble members and collaborators. With the support of the Arizona Early Music Society, Capitol Early Music, and the Amherst Early Music Festival, Alkemie also produced two recorded programs (“Sweet Friendship” and “Love to My Liking”); and a livestreamed concert of the music of Hildegard von Bingen in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Program in Arts, Humanities & Health and Fordham University.
This season, Alkemie looks forward to performing concerts featuring new arrangements of works by Hildegard von Bingen for electro/acoustic instruments; 15th-century French works exploring the feminine and non-binary perspective; a collaboration with Grammy-nominated duo Chapter House featuring music inspired by the fables of Marie de France; and a reprise of their “Verdant Medicine: Hildegard’s Resonant Apothecary” program with pre-eminent vielle player and composer Shira Kammen.
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).