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Indianapolis Early Music (IEM) is America's oldest continuous presenter of Early Music. Originally known by its corporate name of Festival Music Society, it was established in 1966 as a not-for-profit organization to enrich, educate, and entertain audiences with the music of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and early classic eras.
IEM is chiefly known for its annual summer Early Music Festival, a series of six concerts over four weeks. It presented its first festival in 1967. The Festival presents national and international performers, performing on instruments of the period. In addition, IEM presents a concert in the spring often featuring well-known groups on tour or those who are developing a following.
Educational outreach is also a component of Indianapolis Early Music. Programs are regularly developed and presented to area middle and high schools.
Performances over the years have included vocal and instrumental music as well as dance, court, folk and ballet. A number of student-performers have received specialized training through IEM’s summer performances and periodic workshops.
Indianapolis Early Music has been the setting for North American premieres of important music works. Famed harpsichordist Igor Kipnis performed the cycle of seven Bach Partitas in Indianapolis before making his Grammy-nominated recordings of them for Angel Record. The recordings carry a credit to IEM’s parent, the Festival Music Society. In addition, IEM has introduced a series of exceptionally gifted young artists who have gone on to successful professional careers. It has a long association with National Public Radio and broadcasts selections from IEM concerts on its program Performance Today as well as Harmonia.
Indianapolis Early Music's artistic director is Mark Cudek. He was appointed in 2007. Cudek is the director of the Early Music Department at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Well-known as a concert performer in his own right, he performs on guitar, recorder, crumhorn, bass viol, and percussion. He is involved with several groups, notably HESPERUS, APOLLO’S FIRE, CATACOUSTIC CONSORT, and the BALTIMORE CONSORT. He is actively involved in the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble, has been creator and Director of the High School Early Music Program at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, and continues to be involved with that institution. He has also created a Masters program at Peabody, instituted a new Baroque Orchestra, and developed an Early Music program at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Cudek has performed in the Indianapolis Early Music Festival both as a member of HESPERUS and more recently with THE BALTIMORE CONSORT. He holds a B.F.A. from the University of New York and an M.M. from the Peabody Institute. Cudek has received the Early Music America Thomas Binkley Award (2001), Early Music America's Outstanding Contribution to Early Music Education (2005), and Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Global Achievement Award (2014).
From 1973-2007, the Society’s music director was Frank Cooper. A former member of the faculty of Butler University, Cooper was an accomplished harpsichordist and an interpreter of Early Music. He is now Research Professor of Music in the Department of Musicology at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida and Associate Curator of Fine Arts at the Vizcaya Museum in Miami.
Gail McDermott-Bowler is the Managing Director for Indianapolis Early Music. A former Board Member of IEM, she worked several years for the Indiana Repertory Theater helping to promote and publicize their productions. She remains active in many other civic and arts organizations in the Indianapolis area.