Finding Her Voice: Current Trends in Early Vocal Music Performance


  • Katherine Wallace University of Alberta


The search for authenticity has long held sway over early music practices, dictating the direction of both scholarship and performance. Throughout the development of the early music movement, an emphasis on historical accuracy and production of an Urtext has increased dramatically, until the search for authenticity has taken on the air of a religious quest. However, critics and performers have recently begun to question authenticity's hold over text and performance. Once lauded authentic performances are now sometimes criticized for excluding creativity, accessibility and communication. Even Richard Taruskin, the acknowledged leader of performance practice criticism, comments that "a movement that might, in the name of history, have shown the way back to a truly creative performance practice has only furthered the stifling of creativity in the name of normative controls" (in Butt 1996, 325). The cult of authenticity is now beginning to be perceived as a "symptom of 20th century modernism" (Taruskin, in Butt 1996, p.325), and postrnodem thinking, which has for some time influenced the academic sphere of musicology, is finally beginning to break through the stronghold of early music performance.