Brigitte Lesne, voice, rote (psaltery-harp), codirection
Vivabiancaluna Biffi, voice, fiddle
Florence Jacquemart, recorders, bagpipes
Emmanuel Vistorky, voice
Since it was founded in the early 1990s, Alla francesca has explored all types of music from the Middle Ages – solo songs in the various Romance languages, pieces meant specifically for instruments, polyphonies, and folk music whose roots go back to that early era – up to the repertoires of the early Renaissance.
From the beginning of the millennium, the ensemble has been under the joint direction of Brigitte Lesne and Pierre Hamon, depending on the program or project. Recognised as one of the world’s finest interpretors of medieval music, the ensemble can be heard in the most important early music festivals on every continent.
Alla francesca has released 17 recordings: the latest ones are troubadours’songs ‘Trobar & Joglar’ and Jewish songs from the North of France ‘Jews and trouveres’.
In 2016, Alla francesca collaborated with contemporary dance and choreographer Alban Richard in a show untitled ‘Nombrer les étoiles’.
In 2017, Alla francesca created a new programme: ‘Love variations’.
Alla francesca is produced by the Centre de musique médiévale de Paris. With the support of the French Ministry of Culture.
CAMERATA KILKENNY and DAVID POWER
David Power – Uilleann Pipes, Maya Homburger, Claire Duff – violin, Marja Gaynor – viola, Sarah McMahon – cello, Malcolm Proud – harpsichord, Barry Guy – bass
CAMERATA KILKENNY is an internationally renowned Irish based period instrument group founded by Malcolm Proud and Swiss violinist Maya Homburger. In this programme they are joined by uilleann piper David Power.
DAVID POWER makes music on the Irish Uilleann Pipes, travelling the world as a solo musician, in duos with fiddlers, Martin Hayes & Willie Kelly and in collaborations with many other artists, including Edges of Light, Masters of Traditions, Pipers Union, the baroque ensemble and pipe-organist Malcolm Proud. He has recorded three CDs, the first two released by Claddagh Records, the third, self-published. Apples in Winter is his most recent recording, a duet of fiddle and pipes with Willie Kelly of New York. He has had the extraordinary pleasure of performing on some of the most beautiful stages in the world including the Sydney Opera house and the legendary Broadway Studio 54.
The Irish harpsichordist and organist, MALCOLM PROUD, graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with a B.Mus. A Danish Government scholarship enabled him to study at the Conservatory in Copenhagen. After a further year of study with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam the Sweelinck Conservatoire awarded him his Performer’s Diploma. In 1982, he won 1stprize at the Edinburgh International Harpsichord Competition having been a finalist in the 1980 Bruges International Harpsichord Competition.
Malcolm Proud has performed throughout Europe, the USA and Japan. In Ireland, he has played at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Sligo and Galway Early Music Festivals, the Festival in Great Irish Houses and the Dublin International Organ and Choral Festival. He has participated regularly in the annual Back series at St. Ann’s Church in Dublin, most notably in 2000 when he performed all the English and French suites. As an organist, he has played in Dublin at the National Concert Hall, St. Michael’s Dun Laoghaire and Christ Church Cathedral, at Pembroke College in Cambridge, Antwerp Cathedral, Limburg-an-Lahn, Basel, Maria Enzersdorf and Perchtoldsdorf in Vienna, Aveiro in Portugal, and on the historic organs of Valère-Sion in Switzerland, Ottobeuren in Germany and Udine in Italy.
Malcolm Proud is a full-time lecturer on the BA Degree Course in Music at the Waterford Institute of Technology, and organist and choirmaster at St. Canice’s Cathedral in Kilkenny where he lives with his wife, Susan and their three children.
Born and educated in Zurich, Switzerland, MAYA HOMBURGER moved to England in 1986 to join John Eliot Gardiner’s English Baroque Soloists, Trevor Pinnock’s The English Concert and other period instrument groups. Concerts and Recordings as leader of the Chandos Baroque Players and founding her own Trio Virtuoso led her to specialise more and more in chamber music and solo performance. In 1993 she recorded the twelve fantasies for solo violin by G.Ph. Telemann and in 1995 the six sonatas for violin and harpsichord by J.S. Bach together with Malcolm Proud.
Ever since meeting the composer and solo bassist Barry Guy – on the occasion of an extended concert tour with Christopher Hogwood’s Academy of Ancient Music in 1988 – she has devoted her time developing her own personal style on the baroque violin as well as managing the Barry Guy New Orchestra, the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and running her own CD label MAYA recordings.
CLAIRE DUFF is an eminent baroque violinist whose ‘stylish solo violin playing’ (Vickers, Gramophone) has been described as having ‘all the excitement of a high-wire act’, (M Dervan, The Irish Times). Claire has recently been elected Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, London (ARAM), which is awarded to former students who have made a notable contribution to the music profession.
Claire is leader of the Irish Baroque Orchestra with which she regularly performs as soloist to critical acclaim. She has led Florilegium, I Fagiolini, English Touring Opera, The Kings Consort, and Camerata Kilkenny. She has co-led the Academy of Ancient Music and played principal second with The English Concert. Claire has an extensive discography, including a highly acclaimed CD of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto with Monica Huggett and IBO and more recently, a recording of Telemann’s concerto for two violins and bassoon. Claire is passionate about music education and is teacher of baroque violin at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
MARJA GAYNOR, violist, was born in Finland but has been based in Cork since 2005. She was awarded a 1st class honours MA at Cork School of Music, and continued her Baroque violin studies at The Royal Conservatoire of The Hague with Pavlo Beznosiuk.
Marja is a member of the Irish Baroque Orchestra and Camerata Kilkenny. Both ensembles have released much-acclaimed recordings and toured nationally and internationally. Marja is also a founder member of Giordani Quartet, Ireland’s only chamber group specialising in early Classical repertoire using period instruments. Outside Ireland Marja works with the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and other leading European period orchestras, and is increasingly in demand as a leader, soloist and workshop facilitator. She was the Artistic Director of East Cork Early Music Festival 2013-2015, and has also been invited to act as guest curator for the Kaleidoscope Night concert series. With her various areas of interest and expertise (Baroque, traditional music, and improvisation)
Marja is much sought after as an arranger, studio musician and collaborator in all genres. Her proudest project to date was her critically acclaimed arrangement of Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’ (Cork Opera House), and she also arranged and played the strings of ‘Falling Slowly’ for the movie ‘Once’, Oscar winner for best song in 2008.
Sarah McMahon, cello
SARAH MC MAHON ,cello, began her cello studies with Nora Gilleece at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin in 1987. In 1995, she moved to London, where she studied at the Royal Academy of Music with David Strange, Jenny Ward-Clarke and Colin Carr, graduating in 2001 with a first class B Mus degree and a Dip RAM distinction.
Sarah is a passionate chamber musician and a founder member of the Callino String Quartet. They have a busy performing schedule, touring widely throughout Europe, performing at numerous festivals and collaborating with diverse artists such as Barry Douglas, Belcea Quartet, Edgar Meyer, rock band Arcade Fire and John Abercrombie. In addition to her work with the Quartet, Sarah is deeply committed to historical performance and is the principal cellist with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music and Camerata Kilkenny. She is also regularly invited to play as guest principal cellist with Arcangelo, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Aurora orchestra.
BARRY GUY is an innovative bass player and composer whose creative diversity in the fields of jazz improvisation, chamber and orchestral performance and solo recitals is the outcome both of an unusually varied training and a zest for experimentation, underpinned by a dedication to the double bass and the ideal of musical communication.
He is founder and Artistic Director of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and the BGNO (Barry Guy New Orchestra) for which he has written several extended works. His concert works for chamber orchestras, chamber groups and soloists have been widely performed and his skilful and inventive writing has resulted in an exceptional series of compositions.
Barry Guy continues to give solo recitals throughout Europe as well as continuing associations with colleagues involved in improvised, baroque and contemporary music. His current regular ensembles are the Homburger/Guy duo, the Parker/Guy duo, piano trios with Marilyn Crispell and Paul Lytton, Jaques Demierre and Lucas Niggli and a recently formed trio with Agusti Fernandez and Ramon Lopez. He continues the longstanding trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lytton as well as projects with Mats Gustafsson.
SIMONE SORINI SYRENARUM
Simone Sorini – voice & lute, Claudia Viviani – voice & percussion
Simone Sorini, internationally acclaimed interpreter of medieval and renaissance music, is a Cantore al Liuto (singer to the lute)- a musical protagonist from the past whose important figure, long forgotten by musical historiography, is today brought back to life through Simone’s studies and music. Tenor and multi-instrumentalist, over the years he has gathered and honed a deep knowledge of medieval and renaissance stringed instruments such as lutes, citoles, guinterne, citterns, chitarrini and oud, that he uses as accompaniment to his singing.
With Claudia Viviani, singer and instrumentalist, he founded “Simone Sorini SYRENARUM”, a duo/ensemble performing mainly early music repertoires, but also crossover between ancient and modern music, with original arrangements of his own.
THE GREGORY WALKERS
Laoise O’Brien (recorders), Malachy Robinson (viols), Eamon Sweeney (baroque guitar, lute)
A ‘Gregory’ was the name of a wig worn in the 16th century, said to have been invented by a barber named Gregory. A lute, viol, or fiddle was part of the furniture of a barber’s shop in the era and his customers, while waiting for a hair cut or a minor operation, would amuse themselves on the instruments provided.
The Gregory Walkers comprises some of Ireland’s most respected musicians. They are experienced in delivering performances suitable for the whole family and have done so for Ardee Baroque Festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Music Generation, The ARK Children’s Cultural Centre, National Museum of Ireland and others.
Malachy Robinson, bass viol
Malachy Robinson (violone) had his early music education from his dad Andrew Robinson, Ireland’s viola da gamba crusader. He is a prize-winning graduate of London’s Guildhall School of Music and holds a Masters degree in Historical Musicology from the University of London. He has appeared with period-performance groups the Irish Baroque Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, the OAE, the Sixteen and the English Concert; he has also founded some of his own, Trio Quattro and Armoniosa. He is principal double-bassist with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and is a founder member of Dublin’s Crash Ensemble and Louth’s EQ Ensemble. His Robinson Panoramic Quartet is a new take on the string quartet medium and the quintet Lunfardia gives a contemporary virtuosic twist to South-American folk musics. His violone playing has been described by the Irish Times as demonstrating a “remarkable lyrical dexterity”. He likes to write songs and to sing them.
Laoise O’Brien, recorders
Laoise O’Brien (recorders) has a growing reputation as a virtuosic performer and imaginative concert programmer and has been commended in the Irish Times for her ‘mesmerising skill’. Laoise studied recorder at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and holds a Masters in Performance & Musicology from NUI Maynooth.
In repertoire from the 12th to the 18th centuries she has appeared with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Camerata Kilkenny and the Irish Consort, as well as international ensembles such as the Royal Wind Music, Amsterdam. She has released two albums conceived in collaboration with artist Lorna Donlon, How Happy for the Little Birds and Sonnets for the Cradle (assisted by the Arts Council of Ireland) which have had global radio exposure. Sonnets for the Cradle was the subject of a radio feature on RTE Lyric FM which won an award at the 2013 New York Festivals International Radio Awards. Laoise is particularly passionate about education and raising the profile of the recorder in Ireland. She lectures at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama where she teaches students from the age of seven up to post-graduate level.
Eamon Sweeney, early guitars
Eamon Sweeney (guitar) was awarded the first musicology PhD to be accredited by DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. His doctoral thesis, The Guitar and its role as an accompanying instrument in seventeenth – and early eighteenth-century France, investigated the five-course guitar’s role as a continuo instrument in the court of Louis XIV, a hitherto unexplored area of French baroque music and early guitar performance practice. Eamon has lectured and given seminars on Baroque guitar performance at Dublin, Dundee and Bath International Guitar Festivals as well as for DIT and UCD. Eamon received his BMus (1st Class) in Guitar Performance from Trinity College, Dublin and DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and has since performed on stage, radio and television, both as a solo artist and with various ensembles including the National Symphony Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra and Opera Theatre Company. Eamon teaches music with Co Wicklow VEC and is part of the duo Tonos (with Roisin O’Grady) who perform music of the 17th century.
AISLING KENNY & ZIV BRAHA
Aisling Kenny is a soloist and ensemble singer from Galway, specialising in early music and art song. She studied music at Maynooth University, and later singing at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Switzerland, with Evelyn Tubb. Aisling has participated in master classes with Paul Farrington, Emma Kirkby, Christine Schäfer and Andreas Scholl. She sings regularly as a soloist in baroque oratorio and recently sang Handel’s Messiah with Resurgam and the Irish Baroque Orchestra. Active as a recitalist of Lieder and lute song, she has recently presented recitals in Basel, Oxford and around Ireland including a Sundays@Noon concert at the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin with lutenist, Ziv Braha. An experienced choral and ensemble singer, Aisling is a member of Resurgam Choir directed by Mark Duley and has also sung with Chamber Choir Ireland, Ensemble Marsyas, Crux Vocal Ensemble and Atalante. She has performed as a soloist at several festivals including the Galway Early Music Festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival.
Ziv Braha was born and raised in Israel. He began his musical education with the electric guitar at the age of 14. He later changed to the lute, aged 17, and studied with Isidoro Roitman at the Music Academy in Jerusalem where he completed his Bachelor studies in 2001. Ziv then moved to Basel to study with Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and completed his studies there in 2007. He is active both as lutenist and continuo player in various renaissance and baroque ensembles. He has recorded a CD of John Danyel’s song-book of 1606 with his ensemble, A Garden of Eloquence, which was released in 2011 by the label Et’Cetera. Ziv has performed as soloist in major European festivals such as the Festival van Vlaanderen and the Utrecht Oude Muziek Festival. Since 2010 he teaches the lute at the music school of the Schola Cantorum in Basel.