Blue Heron

Blue Heron ensemble members posing in a park

Blue Heron has been acclaimed by The Boston Globe as “one of the Boston music community’s indispensables” and hailed by Alex Ross in The New Yorker for its “expressive intensity.” The ensemble ranges over a wide repertoire from plainchant to new music, with particular specialities in 15th-century Franco-Flemish polyphony and early 16th-century English sacred music, and is committed to vivid live performance informed by the study of original source materials and historical performance practices.

Founded in 1999, Blue Heron presents a concert series in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has appeared at the Boston Early Music Festival; in New York City at Music Before 1800, The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and the 92nd Street Y; at the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.; at the Berkeley Early Music Festival; at Yale University; in Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Providence, St. Louis, San Luis Obispo, Seattle, and Vancouver; and in Cambridge and London, England. In 2021-22 the ensemble visited the University of California, Davis, and made its continental European debuts in Germany and Belgium. Blue Heron has been in residence at the Center for Early Music Studies at Boston University and at Boston College, and has enjoyed collaborations with A Far Cry, Dark Horse Consort, Les Délices, Parthenia, Piffaro, and Ensemble Plus Ultra.

Blue Heron’s first CD, featuring music by Guillaume Du Fay, was released in 2007. Between 2010 and 2017 the ensemble issued a 5-CD series of Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, including many world premiere recordings of works copied c. 1540 for Canterbury Cathedral and restored by Nick Sandon. The fifth CD was awarded the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music and the five discs are now available as a set entitled The Lost Music of Canterbury. Jessie Ann Owens and Blue Heron won the 2015 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society to support the world premiere recording of Cipriano de Rore’s I madrigali a cinque voci, which was released in 2019 and recognized as “easily one of the most important additions to the early music discography in the last quarter-century” (Early Music, August 2021). In 2015 Blue Heron inaugurated Ockeghem@600, a multi-season project to commemorate the circa-600th birthday of Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497) by performing his complete works. A parallel project to record all of Ockeghem’s songs and motets bore its first fruits in 2019 with the release of Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Volume 1, which was named to the Bestenliste of the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik; volume 2 will be released in 2023. Blue Heron’s recordings also include a disc of plainchant and polyphony to accompany Thomas Forrest Kelly’s book Capturing Music: The Story of Notation, the live recording Christmas in Medieval England, a compilation of medieval songs entitled A 14th-Century Salmagundi, and a forthcoming live recording of Guillaume de Machaut’s Remede de Fortune.

Scott Metcalfe is widely recognized as one of North America’s leading specialists in music from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries and beyond. Musical and artistic director of Blue Heron since its founding in 1999, he was music director of New York City’s Green Mountain Project from 2010-19 and has been guest director of TENET (New York), the Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), Emmanuel Music (Boston), the Toronto Consort, The Tudor Choir and Seattle Baroque, Pacific Baroque Orchestra (Vancouver, BC), Quire Cleveland, and the Dryden Ensemble (Princeton, NJ), in music ranging from Machaut to Bach and Handel. Metcalfe also enjoys a career as a baroque violinist, playing with Les Délices (dir. Debra Nagy), L’Harmonie des Saisons (dir. Eric Milnes), and other ensembles. His scholarly activities include research on the performance practice of vocal music from the 14th through 17th centuries; an article on clefs, transposition, and pitch in music before 1600 has recently been published in the Journal of the Alamire Foundation and two essays on music at Peterhouse (Cambridge) may finally see the light this year in a long-forthcoming book. He has edited a motet by Francisco de Peñalosa for Antico Edition (UK) and songs from the recently rediscovered Leuven Chansonnier for the Alamire Foundation (Belgium); a longterm project is a new edition of the songs of Gilles Binchois (c. 1400-1460). Metcalfe has taught at Boston University, Harvard University, the New England Conservatory, and Oberlin Conservatory. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University (1985), where he majored in biology, and a master’s degree in historical performance practice from Harvard (2005).