A recital of ravishing yet rarely-performed solo vocal music by seventeenth-century Italian composers Barbara Strozzi, Caterina Assandra, Lucrezia Vizzana, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani and Rosa Giacinta Badalla, with a hint of Hildegard, performed by outstanding early music specialists Deborah Roberts (soprano) and Siobhán Armstrong (harp), with Ian Sexton (organ).
The concert is open to the public. Tickets cost 10 euro (5 euro concessions) and are available from the Department of Music, University College Cork.
Deborah Roberts graduated from Nottingham University with an MA in the editing and interpretation of Renaissance and Baroque music and then began combining editorial work with singing in various professional early music ensembles and choirs. In 1981 she was a prize winner in the early music competition in Bruges, enabling her to study with Andrea von Ramm in Basel.
Over the years much of her career has been dedicated to singing with the Tallis Scholars, with whom she gave over 1200 concerts throughout the world of Renaissance polyphony. She has made solo appearances with several other noted ensembles including the Consort of Musicke, London Baroque and the English Concert, and she has also made several solo recordings.
Having always maintaned a great interest in the Italian Renaissance and early Baroque, she founded the ensemble Musica Secreta to perform much of this rare music, and the group has now toured throughout Europe, visited the USA with an education based schedule, and released five very individual and cutting-edge CDs to high critical acclaim. Since sharing the direction of the group with Dr Laurie Stras of Southampton University, she has been involved in several exciting projects. An AHRB research grant that awarded her a Senior Research Fellowship allowed them to explore the repertoire of female vocal ensembles in 16th-century Italy. The resulting CD, Dangerous Graces, was awarded a Diapason Découvert. Their latest project Fallen - a multi media performance involving film, live music and drama - was premiered in 2006 and will open the South Bank early music weekend in September 2007. A new recording of motets by Alessando Grandi as well as music from Fallen will be released in time for this performance.
As a conducter she has directed the specialist a cappella choir Brighton Consort since 1998, and has premiered many rare Renaissance works in the Sussex region. she also regularly gives lectures and workshops at various universities, colleges and summer schools as well as interviews and talks on the radio.
In 2002 she co founded the Brighton Early Music Festival primarily with the view to promoting scholarly but original and innovating performances and workshops aimed at a broad spectrum of the population. It has now grown to be the second largest early music festival in the U.K. with several concerts broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Siobhán Armstrong is one of a small number of harpists worldwide who play harps from earlier centuries and who research historical playing techniques appropriate to these instruments. She has an extensive collection of copies of instruments from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque eras, including chromatic multi-row harps: an Italian arpa doppia and a Spanish arpa de dos ordenes. Siobhán was born in Dublin, lives in Ireland and works as a freelance performer and teacher, mainly in Europe.
Siobhán is particularly interested in encouraging the revival of the early Irish harp: the wire-strung cláirseach. To this end, she founded and chairs the Historical Harp Society of Ireland and is the director of the Society’s annual Scoil na gCláirseach—Summer School of Early Irish Harp—which takes place annually in Kilkenny. She plays a copy of the medieval Trinity College harp—the national emblem of Ireland—strung in brass and 18-carat gold. Her solo recording on this instrument—Cláirseach na hÉireann: The Harp of Ireland—was released in 2004 on Maya Recordings.
Alongside her solo work, Siobhán Armstrong performs with the main early music soloists, ensembles, and directors in Europe, including William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, Jeffrey Skidmore and Ex Cathedra, Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques, Paul McCreesh and The Gabrieli Consort and Players. With these ensembles, she records with Deutsche Grammophon, Sony, Teldec, Virgin Classics, Erato and Dorian. Playing her arpa doppia, she is also a soloist on the soundtrack of MGM’s recent film, The Merchant of Venice, on Decca.
One of Siobhán’s main musical interests is the art of ‘continuo’—the style of improvised accompaniment found in early Baroque music—particularly as it relates to vocal music of the period. She regularly participates in period instrument productions of 17th century operas by Monteverdi, Rossi and Cavalli, among others, in the main opera houses in Europe and the U.S.A.
Siobhán Armstrong has performed and broadcast throughout Europe, North America and Japan and has appeared as a soloist or ensemble player at venues including the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Opéra Comique in Paris, the Zankel Hall at Carnegie, NY, and Izumi Hall in Osaka. She has also been a participant at the main early music festivals including Boston, Utrecht, Chaise-Dieu and Vienna and at traditional music festivals such as the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany.
Her web site, with sound-clips and discography, can be visited at www.siobhanarmstrong.com.
Organist, choirmaster and continuo player Ian Sexton (b. 1974) has spent most of his life as a musician in Anglican cathedrals and churches. He is currently Master of the Clerks Choral at the 12th century Collegiate Church in Youghal, a choral foundation that dates back to 1464 and recently revived after a long period of disuse following the re-designation of the Collegiate Church as a Séadcomharthaí Náisiúnta (National Monument). Since reinstatement, the Clerks Choral have broadcast live on RTE Radio and have given a number of public recitals. A schedule of recording is planned for the future. Ian is also a vocal ensemble coach in the Department of Music, University College Cork and an Examiner for the Royal Irish Academy of Music and also for the International Baccalaureate Organisation.
Ian studied the organ at Chester Cathedral and when he left school in 1992 he became organ scholar of Rochester Cathedral with its fine tradition of daily Evensong throughout the year. From Rochester, he went to study at the Trinity College of Music, where he won the coveted Cardnell Organ Recital Prize at his final recital in 1996. He studied the organ with Jack Hindmarsh and Christopher Stokes and he studied harpsichord and continuo playing with John Henry.
After graduation, Ian become the Postgraduate Guinness Organ Scholar of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin before moving to Cork in 1997 to become Assistant Organist of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral where he remained until 2006 when he was appointed to the Collegiate Church in Youghal.
Ian is regularly in demand as a recitalist, coach and accompanist and has given hundreds of public recitals, office renderings and broadcasts, both here and in Europe and America. He is a member of the Council of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, London.
Ian also enjoys field sports, Springer Spaniels, Eastern Europe, restaurants and Church of Ireland speculations and gossip.
For further information, please contact Melanie Marshall (email@example.com).
Last updated 22 April 2007. Page maintained by Melanie L. Marshall with help from Han-earl Park. The views expressed here are my own, and not those of University College Cork.