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.” Committed to vivid live performance informed by the study of original source materials and historical performance practices, 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.
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; and in Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Providence, St. Louis, San Luis Obispo, and Seattle. The ensemble has performed in Cambridge and London, England, and in 2018-19 will make Canadian debuts in Montreal (September) and Vancouver (March). 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. In 2015 the ensemble embarked on Ockeghem@600, a multi-season project to perform the complete works of Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497) and record all of his songs and motets. Volume I of the songs will be released in the spring of 2019. The project will wind up around 2021, in time to commemorate the composer’s circa-600th birthday.
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. The fifth CD was awarded the 2018 Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music and the five discs are now available as a boxed set entitled The Lost Music of Canterbury. Blue Heron’s recordings also include a CD of plainchant and polyphony to accompany Thomas Forrest Kelly’s book Capturing Music: The Story of Notation and the live recording Christmas in Medieval England. Jessie Ann Owens (UC Davis) and Blue Heron won the 2015 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society to support a world premiere recording of Cipriano de Rore’s I madrigali a cinque voci (1542), to be released in fall 2019.