One of Europe’s best-known harpists playing pre-1800 repertory on reconstructions of medieval to baroque instruments, Siobhán Armstrong performs and records early church-, chamber-music and opera with some of the most respected early-music directors, ensembles, orchestras and opera companies in Europe, and collaborates with significant traditional musicians in Ireland. In Irish music, she places herself where ‘historical’ meets ‘traditional’: for more than 25 years, she has been exploring the neglected repertory, playing techniques and idiom of the early Irish harp. This is also the subject of her PhD (Middlesex University London, 2021, forthcoming). In 2015, Siobhán located a ‘lost’ historic Irish harp, and in 2016 she commissioned the first ever 3D-laser scan of a musical instrument at The National Museum of Ireland. Sharing her discoveries is now at the heart of her artistic and educational work. She is the author of Singing to harp accompaniment in medieval to early modern Ireland in The Oxford Handbook of Irish Song (Oxford University Press, 2022). With her ensemble, The Irish Consort, she has begun a unique recording series to document music in Ireland 1500—1800. In 2021 Siobhán became an Occasional Lecturer at the School of Music, University College Dublin.
Originally from Dublin, but now living in Connemara, Ronan is one of Ireland’s leading traditional musicians. He comes from a musical background: his grandmother was the famous early-twentieth century singer, Delia Murphy, and pivotal Irish traditional musicians such as Séamus Ennis, Willie Clancy and Denis Murphy were regular visitors to Ronan’s family home. He began playing the pipes at the age of seven and was quickly taken under the various wings of the old masters.
Ronan has been involved in over 100 recordings and has collaborated with many prestigious artists playing traditional Irish music, classical, pop and jazz, including Elvis Costello, Paul Brady, Sinéad O’Connor, Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest. His work ranges includes solo projects; his celebrated duet with veteran musician Peter O’Loughlin and his acclaimed collaboration with poet Louis de Paor; his trio CRAN and his trio with singer Róisín Elsafty and harpist Siobhán Armstrong; and his performances as the original piper with both the Afro-Celt Sound System and Riverdance. Ronan appears regularly on television and radio. He has toured extensively in Europe and in the USA, as well as further afield.
Ronan is also keenly interested in exploring other musical genres particularly in film, theatre and television, collaborating on the composition of soundtracks for documentaries and films such as the dramatization of Maeve Binchy’s novel, Circle of Friends. Ronan has also contributed music to many film soundtracks including of Robin of Loxely, Rob Roy, Fierce Creatures, Streets of Gold and Gangs of New York. On Angelica Huston’s Mrs. Browne, Ronan was Traditional Irish Music Director.
A gifted communicator, Ronan is a sought-after lecturer, masterclass coach and teacher, tutoring pipes, flute and whistle worldwide for the last twenty-five years. He has recently developed a unique music-listening class, which trains students in the art of forensic listening to – enabling deep comprehension of style and technique – from archive recordings of the late nineteenth century into the twentieth.
Mark Duley is one of Ireland’s most well-known choral specialists, and has led workshops and masterclasses for choirs and conductors in Ireland, the UK, and continental Europe.
He founded Resurgam in 2003, with the aim of establishing it as Ireland’s premier project-based professional choir. He has directed the choir in numerous concerts and tours and over a wide range of repertoire.
Mark was born and raised in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and came to Ireland in 1992. He has held several major posts in the country, including organist and director of music at Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, chorus master to the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir, artistic director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra, and artistic director of the organ festival Pipeworks.
As conductor or organist, he has appeared with most of the major Irish ensembles, including RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Chamber Choir Ireland, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Opera Theatre Company, and the Orchestra of St Cecilia. He has performed at many of Ireland’s premier festivals, including the Wexford Opera Festival, the Cork International Choral Festival, the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Galway Early Music Festival and the East Cork Early Music.
Róisín Elsafty comes from Conamara, in the west of Ireland, and grew up in a musical family. Singing came naturally, even before she learnt to speak. Her mother is the well-known singer, Treasa Ní Cheannabháin. Róisín sings in the oldest, a cappella singing style, in the Irish language, and in English. Her songs are from an ancient, oral tradition and have been handed down through the generations and from district to district. Róisín also enjoys eclectic musical collaborations: from early Irish music to jazz and works with some of the very best known mainstream Irish traditional, and historical, musicians.
Róisín has travelled widely with her art, performing, demonstrating and teaching her singing style. Memorable international concerts have included performances at Cité de la Musique in Paris; at the Palais de Beaux Arts, Brussels; and with The China/Ireland Cultural Exchange Programme performing in Beijing and Shanghai. She has also hosted TV and radio shows in English and Irish, both in Ireland and further afield.
Róisín’s first solo recording, Má Bhíonn Tú Liom Bí Liom, was released in 2007 on Vertical Records and was widely praised. Described by The Irish Times as ‘a thing of beauty from beginning to end’, it is a collection of traditional and newly composed songs, both accompanied and a cappella.
Róisín is a two-time winner of the Irish Music Awards award for Best Sean-Nós Singer 2010 and 2014. In 2019 she won the prestigious Corn na mBan trophy at the Oireachtas and was also the second prize winner there in Ireland’s most important competition for unaccompanied singing in Irish: Corn Uí Ríada. Róisín also holds a PhD in biochemistry.
Peppe Frana was born in Salerno in 1986, and graduated cum laude in Philosophy at the University Institute “L’Orientale” (Naples). Since a very young age he has had a deep interest in extra-European modal forms of music, especially through the influence of Ross Daly’s music, thereby undertaking the study of Turkish oud and other plucked string instruments in the course of frequent trips to Greece and Turkey, where he has studied with some of the most renowned masters: Yurdal Tokcan, Omer Erdogdular, Murat Aydemir, Daud Khan Sadozai, and Ross Daly himself.
His encounter with members of the Micrologus Ensemble sparked his interest in European Medieval music and plucked lute, and he soon became one of the most appreciated soloists and teachers for this instrument, with a specialization in music from the Italian Trecento.
Between 2013 and 2015 he studied Medieval lute at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis under the guidance of Crawford Young.
Peppe collaborates with numerous performers and musical projects in the domains of early, oriental and folk music, and he performs and teaches widely at international level. He is the artistic director of ‘Labyrinth Italia.’
Sarah Groser first played the viol as a nine year old when her father lent her one to keep her happy while she was waiting to start on the cello. She didn’t play a viol again until her late teens when she heard a viol consort and fell in love with the sound of viols playing together. At Manchester University she was able to study both baroque cello and viol with Charles Medlam, then went on to Rotterdam Conservatorium to study baroque cello with Jaap ter Linden.
Since her studies Sarah has concentrated on the viol and more recently the violone. She has been a member of the Rose Consort of Viols for twenty years, Sonnerie for eight years and has worked with many other ensembles including Fretwork, Charivari Agreable, London Baroque, Dowland Consort and The Irish Consort.
Galway based soprano Helen Hancock (soprano) is a native of Dublin. Her musical passions centre on Baroque opera and sacred music, art song and Mozart opera. A regular recitalist, Helen has performed at St Mary’s Cathedral Limerick, The Hunt Museum Limerick, Yeats Tower Thoor Ballylee in Galway as part of Heritage week 2019 and at Rathfarnham Castle evening recital series in March 2020. Most recently she performed in Galway Early Music’s Midwinter Festival and European Early Music Day celebrations.
Helen studied singing at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and at TU Dublin while pursuing an engineering degree in University College Dublin. Since resuming vocal studies with Professor Owen Gilhooly at the Midwest Vocal Academy in Limerick in 2015, Helen has completed her ARSM and DipABRSM diplomas and undertaken training abroad including Training in Classical Voice with Janice Chapman and Dr Ron Morris in 2017, The Abingdon Summer School for Solo Singers in the UK in 2018 and 2019 and The Singer as Artist in France in September, 2019. Helen won the Todd Cup for Oratorio at the Feile Luimnigh in March 2020 and was runner-up in the Duggan Cup for lieder.
Helen continues to study with Owen Gilhooly and with UK based Christine Cairns. She has worked with collaborative pianists including Uk-based Nigel Foster, Seho Lee and Irina Dernova and Mark Keane with whom she has performed regularly. Helen has a passion for chamber music which stems from her background as a recorder ensemble player. Helen also teaches recorder and singing at Coole Music and Arts, Galway and is choral conductor of SATB choir The Marine Singers.
Galway soprano, Aisling Kenny, is a soloist and ensemble singer specialising in early music and art song. Favourite repertoire includes anything by Bach, French baroque, lute songs and Lieder. She has sung as a soloist with Irish Baroque Orchestra, Camerata Kilkenny, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Marlborough Baroque, Luminosa String Orchestra, The Orchestra of St Cecilia, Linden Baroque and the Staatskapelle. Aisling features regularly in the National Concert Hall’s Chamber Music Series, most recently with IBO for their La Donna Barocca project directed by Claire Duff. Other memorable concert experiences include Couperin’s Leçons de ténèbres with Camerata Kilkenny and Sharon Carty, Venetian Splendour, a concert tour of Monteverdi with Resurgam and the English Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble and performances at many of Ireland’s festivals including Galway Early Music Festival, Sligo Baroque Festival, Ardee Baroque Festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and New Music Dublin. An experienced ensemble singer, Aisling a member of Resurgam, Sestina and Crux, and also sings with Chamber Choir Ireland and Collegium Vocale Gent.
Aisling is a devoted song recitalist and loves singing with harp, lute, fortepiano and guitar. Recent recitals include Dowland’s lute songs with Thomas Dunford in Paris and Kilkenny and a concert of Clara Schumann’s Lieder with Cecily Lock at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Aisling is delighted to perform again at Galway Early Music Festival with Siobhan Armstrong for this special mid-winter edition.
Yonit Kosovske performs as a soloist and collaborative artist on harpsichord, modern piano, fortepiano and chamber organ. At home with repertoire from the Renaissance through New Music, Yonit curates, directs and co-produces projects and festivals that integrate music, text, movement, and painting, as well as her original photography and short film. Chrome Attic, Yonit’s ongoing research-recording-performance project, explores connections between musical chromaticism and chiaroscuro in Baroque painting and contemporary photography.
She recently received a 2020 Arts Council Music Commissions Award for Watershed—a song-cycle for voice and piano to be composed by Ailís Ní Ríain on poetry by Jessica Brown, to be premiered in 2021 in collaboration with contralto Julie Comparini.
Together with Vlad Smishkewych, Yonit co-founded H.I.P.S.T.E.R., an acronym for Historically Informed Performance Series, Teaching, Education and Research, as well as WAVE~LINKS, a new series of explorations in music and artisanry. Yonit is a Lecturer in Music at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.
She has given masterclasses throughout Ireland, the United States, Israel, China, and Colombia. She is the author of “Historical Harpsichord Technique: Developing La douceur du toucher,” (Indiana University Press, 2011), and she holds a Doctor of Music degree from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she studied with harpsichordist Elisabeth Wright.
SIMON & MARIA O’DWYER – ANCIENT MUSIC IRELAND
Born in 1955, Simon O’Dwyer has dedicated his life’s work to the study and the reconstruction of prehistoric musical instruments. He is in the vanguard of the pioneering research which is taking place into the music of prehistory worldwide. Simon has composed and registered many pieces for Bronze Age horns and trumpets, Iron Age trumpets, Early Medieval horns and bodhrán. Simon plays with the band ‘Reconciliation’ and has recorded several albums. He is a poet and songwriter.
Maria O’Dwyer is dedicated to the promotion, research and documentation of the ancient musical instruments of Ireland. She has correlated a large library of archive material, including public performance at festivals, museums, universities, conferences worldwide and rare footage of the measuring and discussion of original instruments. Maria also plays with the band ‘Reconciliation’ and has composed and recorded on several albums.
Soprano Róisín O’Grady has performed in recital and oratorio throughout Ireland and specialises in the performance of early music. Róisín studied Music and Italian at University College, Cork and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in concert singing at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow. She received a First Class Hons. M.A. in Performance at the Cork School of Music in 2008. She was a member of and a soloist with the National Chamber Choir of Ireland for over two years. She performed with the choir throughout Ireland and toured Holland and The Lebanon. In 2011 they performed for US President Barack Obama in the White House on St. Patrick’s Day.
Róisín has performed with early music ensembles, orchestras and choral societies throughout Ireland and the UK including the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Irish Baroque Orchestra and the Orchestra of St. Cecilia. She is a member of the early music duo tonos who performed in the John Field Room, National Concert Hall, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Sligo Festival of Baroque Music, and was broadcast in concert by Lyric FM. The duo has released two CDs, Songs of Identity and Belonging and Wintersong. She regularly performs with harpsichordist Malcolm Proud. Recitals include the Hugh Lane Gallery Concert Series, Dun Laoghaire Organ Concert Series, Dublin International Organ Festival and Galway Cathedral Recital Series. Festival performances include Galway Early Music Festival, East Cork Early Music Festival, Ardee Baroque Festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival and Gŵyl Gregynog Festival.
RESURGAM CHAMBER CHOIR, Dir. Mark Duley
Resurgam is Ireland’s leading project- based professional choir. Founded in 2003 by Mark Duley, it has earned for itself a respected place amongst the country’s premiere ensembles. Resurgam has worked with an international array of conductors including Monica Huggett, Christophe Rousset, Erin Headley and John Butt, and has performed in the UK and continental Europe, including an acclaimed appearance at the Bach Festival of Lausanne. Within Ireland, it has appeared at most of the major international festivals, including Galway Early Music Festival, Galway International Arts Festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ardee Baroque Festival, Cork International Choral Festival, Galway Early Music Festival, and the Pipeworks Festival. It has given many groundbreaking performances of music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Resurgam’s unique work in the field of early vocal music in Ireland, especially through the acclaimed single-composer retrospectives the choir has undertaken (including Giovanni Gabrieli, Heinrich Schütz and Orlandus Lassus) has been enhanced through recent collaborations with the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble. In addition, Resurgam has also brought to Irish audiences the great choral works of the Russian Orthodox tradition, touring the country with Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil and Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, and giving the first complete Irish performance of Schnittke’s monumental Concerto for Choir.
Malachy Robinsonis a dedicated chamber musician, as passionate about Early Music as he is about New Music. He is a founder of the Gregory Walkers, a group performing Early Music from Ireland and beyond (in which he plays the viola da gamba) and is director of the Robinson Panoramic Quartet, a revelatory alternative to the standard string quartet. With the Far Flung Trio he explores extended roles for the double-bass in multiple genres, and they have recently released an eclectic, vivid album, Live at the Large Room. Principal double-bass with the Irish Chamber Orchestra since 1995, he is also a founder member of the cutting-edge Crash Ensemble as well as appearing with period-instrument orchestras such as The Sixteen, the English Concert, the OAE and the Academy of Ancient Music. He is involved in music education, coaching string players for the Dublin Youth Orchestras, the National Youth Orchestra, the IAYO orchestra, ICO’s sing out programme, ConCorda chamber music school, Ceol na Mara summer school and others. He has also been involved in many workshops for schools with numerous organisations, including the National Concert Hall, Music Network, Music Generation and Galway Early Music. www.malachyrobinson.com
Born in Urbino in 1975, Enea Sorini first approached the world of early music at the age of eight, when he was chosen to enter the choir of the Pueri Cantores of Pesaro. After completing Art studies in his own city of Urbino (diploma in Animation Cinema at the School of Art and 1st-level degree in Sculpture at the Fine Art Academy), he moved to Pesaro where he graduated first in Singing (1st level) and then in Baroque Singing (2nd level) at the G. Rossini conservatory, also attending singing master classes with Gloria Banditelli and Claudio Cavina. Enea, who specialises in Medieval and Renaissance music, has perfomed in the most important festivals of early music, both in Europe and overseas. He now collaborates mainly with the Micrologus ensemble (Assisi), Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien (Paris), La Morra (Basel), Pera Ensemble (Munich/Istanbul); he has also worked with the Belgian choreographer/dancer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Eastman, Antwerp). He is the founder of the Bella Gerit ensemble (Urbino), researching and performing Renaissance music. As for Baroque music, he has taken part in several productions and performances under the direction of Diego Fasolis, Gianluca Capuano, Marco Mencoboni, and Carlo Ipata. He has recorded numerous albums for Alpha, Sony, Hyperion, Tactus (including two ‘Golden Diapasons’); his music has been broadcast by, and he has worked for, Radio3, Radio France, RSI Switzerland, Polskie Radio, WDR3.
Eamon Sweeney 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
Edward Tapceanu (bass viol) was born in Romania but left soon after, with his parents, for a new home in Canada. Ed is a versatile player of many bass instruments within diverse styles of music, with a penchant for early music. He plays double bass in the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland but also plays electric bass & baritone guitar in anything from old blues & jazz to soul and alternative rock & pop. In this programme he plays his bass viol.
THE IRISH CONSORT
Directed by historical harpist, Siobhán Armstrong, The Irish Consort is a unique ensemble that brings together the expertise and passion of some of Europe’s finest early music performers with that of prize-winning, traditional Irish musicians and singers, revealing gems at the intersection of Irish and European early music.
Anita Vedres (violin) was born into a musical Dublin family. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then at the Utrecht Conservatorium. She was a member of the Irish Chamber Orchestra for several years which she left in 2000 for family reasons. It was around this time she discovered a new passion for period performance and became a founding member of the Irish Baroque orchestra. She went on to do a masters in period performance and studied baroque violin with acclaimed Swiss violinist Maya Homburger completing her master with first class honours. Anita enjoys a busy and varied career as a freelance violinist working with every orchestra in the country. She has travelled to China with the RTE concert orchestra, Germany with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Edinburgh and London with the Irish Baroque Orchestra and to Bucharest with the National Symphony Orchestra. She also enjoys chamber music and has performed as baroque violinist in Trio Quattro, Armoniosa and the Eidola trio.