The University of Melbourne has been a leader in early music since the 1970s, producing musicians of national and international distinction on instruments such as the recorder, baroque flute, harpsichord, baroque oboe, baroque violin, viola da gamba and lute. The Early Music Studio was founded in 1996 by Professor John Griffiths to consolidate this long-standing commitment to excellence in early music. The EMS is located in a restored terrace house at 27 Royal Parade, close to the main Parkville campus of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and provides instrumental and vocal training, research facilities and a base for community involvement. The dedicated early music facilities of the Early Music Studio provide an ideal environment for performance and study at both undergraduate and graduate levels. The EMS includes teaching and rehearsal facilities and can also be used for seminars and small recitals.
The Louise Hanson-Dyer Music Library possesses a rich collection of early music resources including a large collection of original sources from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, facsimile editions of many of the most important early manuscripts, printed music and theoretical sources, as well as scholarly and performing editions and research materials.
A large collection of early keyboards, strings, wind and brass instruments instruments are available for student use. The Klop chamber organ, donated by the Harold Mitchell Foundation, is available for public hire.
The EMS also hosts the annual Spring Early Music Festival, the leading festival of its kind in Melbourne.
The Early Music Studio is also the home of the Lyrebird Press, was established at the University of Melbourne in 2006 to continue the work of Éditions de l’Oiseau-Lyre (The Lyrebird Press), established in Paris in 1932 by Melbourne-born benefactress and patron of the arts Louise Hanson-Dyer (1884–1962).
The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music is also the home to several research projects investigating early music, including:
- Baroque Music Performance Research Project
- Catalogue of the music collection of the Dresden Catholic Court Church 1765
- Changing artistic priorities and practices of German court music 1715–1760
- Engaging with Place: An interdisciplinary Framework for Place-Based Research and Practice
- Jan Dismas Zelenka
- Music Printing in sixteenth-century Spain
- The Tudor Church Music Revival
- Urban Soundscapes in Renaissance Spain
Notable recent guests
The EMS has welcomed a number of distingished international guests, including Lorenzo Colitto (baroque violin, Bologna), Kenneth Gilbert (harpsichord, France), Xavier Julien Laferrière (baroque violin, France) and Les Charactères, Andrew Lawrence-King (harp, The Harp Consort), Eva Legene (recorder, University of Indiana), Simon Martyn-Ellis (lute, Cologne), Amy Power (baroque oboe, Satyr’s Band, Basel), Stanley Ritchie (baroque violin, University of Indiana), Jordi Savall (viola da gamba, Hesperion XXI), Hopkinson Smith (lute, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis), Aarón Zapico (harpsichord, Spain).
EMS alumni who have achieved considerable national and international distinction on instruments such as recorder, baroque flute, harpsichord, baroque oboe, baroque violin, viola da gamba and lute include Elizabeth Anderson (harpsichord), Natasha Anderson (recorder), Calvin Bowman (organ), Alison Catanach (baroque flute), Zana Clarke (recorder), Samantha Cohen (lute), Kara Ciezki (recorder), Diedre Dowling (viola), Caroline Downer (viola da gamba), Gary Ekkel (baroque flute & recorder), Fiona Furphy (cello), Thomas Grubb (organ), Peter Hagen (harpsichord), Geoffrey Hall (lute), Robin Hillier (baroque flute), Rosemary Hodgson (vihuela), Louise Horgen (voice), Paul Jones (cello), Linda Kent (harpsichord), Genevieve Lacey (recorder), Dolly McKinnon (recorder), Adam Masters (oboe), Ann Murphy (harpsichord), Jacqueline Ogeil (harpsichord), Amy Power (recorder), Anastasia Russell-Head (harpsichord), Rachel Snedden (recorder), Malcom Tattersall (recorder), Laura Vaughan (viola da gamba), Rodney Waterman (recorder), Victoria Watts (viola da gamba), Alexandra Williams (recorder).