Blue Heron is engaged in the exploration of vocal music of the Renaissance and Medieval periods. Putting the study of original sources in the service of persuasive, vivid and exciting concert presentations, the ensemble is now established as the finest of its type in North America. Based in the Boston area, and led by Scott Metcalfe, Blue Heron offers a home subscription series in Harvard Square, and a catalog of seven exceptional recordings is available on the Blue Heron label.
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, Blue Heron ranges over a wide repertoire from plainchant to new music, with particular specialities in 15th-century Franco-Flemish and early 16th-century English polyphony. Blue Heron’s first CD, featuring music by Guillaume Du Fay, was released in 2007. In 2010 the ensemble inaugurated 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 disc was released in March 2017 and was just selected as a Critic’s Choice of 2017 by Gramophone. 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 first book of madrigals (1542), which it will complete over the next two seasons.
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 San Luis Obispo, Seattle, St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Providence. Highlights from 2017 included an October tour to England, with performances at Peterhouse and Trinity College in Cambridge and at Lambeth Palace Library, at the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
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 a multi-season project to perform the complete works of Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497). Entitled Ockeghem@600, it will wind up around 2021, in time to commemorate the composer’s circa-600th birthday.