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New Orleans Musica da Camera

New Orleans Musica da Camera is the oldest early music ensemble in the Americas, and one of the oldest classical music organizations in the South.

New Orleans Musica da Camera

Courtesy of New Orleans Musica da Camera

New Orleans Musica da Camera Ensemble. Unidentified

Founded in 1966 by Milton G. Scheuermann Jr., New Orleans Musica da Camera is the oldest continuing early music ensemble in the Americas, and one of the oldest classical music performing organizations in the South. The group researches and performs music from the medieval and early Baroque periods using historically informed performance techniques on reproductions of period instruments. Thaïs St. Julien has co-directed with Scheuermann since 1991, and Stuart LeBlanc has been associate director since 2000. Vox Feminae, their women’s vocal ensemble, was formed in 1994 by St. Julien. Since 1989, Musica da Camera has been a Visiting Artist in Residence ensemble at Our Lady of Prompt Succor National Shrine in New Orleans.

Continuum, hosted by Scheuermann and St. Julien, has aired on WWNO-89.9 FM since 1976, and may be the longest running early music radio program in the world. More than 1,600 programs have been broadcast and Web-streamed to date. It has won the Early Music America/Millennium of Music National Radio Competition and the KXMS Fine Arts International Award for Classical Radio Programming with Educational Content. Eleven live concerts have been broadcast on National Public Radio, American Public Radio, and Public Radio International.

Between 1994 and 2001 the ensemble made five recordings for Centaur, and in 2009 established its own recording label, Belle Alliance. Its recordings have been distributed and broadcast internationally.

Since December 2004 the organization has been housed at the Musica da Camera Center, Laurel House, which includes an office, rehearsal space, instrument room, library, and reading room. More than 100 instruments have been acquired since the organization’s inception (some built by Scheuermann), together with an outstanding library of performing and research materials. The library contains more than 10,000 print items, 4,000 CDs, 2,000 LPs, a special collection of early Spanish music of more than 300 books and scores covering several centuries of music, and 500 recordings representing fifty years of recorded history of early music.