Photo: Courtesy of Wayward Sisters
Early Music America is a non-profit service organization for the field of historical performance in North America. One of their many activities is the sponsorship of competitions for up-and-coming performers. In 2011 the EMA partnered with the recording label Naxos and held a competition designed to promote the careers of emerging early music artists. This week, we’re bringing you samples of all five finalists’ performances, including the winning ensemble Wayward Sisters.
The ensemble Recordare is made up of students and alumni of McGill University in Quebec, Canada. The quality of their performance is astounding, especially considering they only began performing together in the fall of 2010. We’ll hear from their performance of the organ concertó in A by Giuseppe Sammartini.
The Sebastian Chamber Players
By contrast, The Sebastian Chamber Players have been performing together since 2001 and were recently named the artists-in-residence at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Manchester, CT. Most of the members have teaching positions at universities on the east coast, although one violinist commutes long-distance from a position at Brigham Young University in Utah. We’ll hear them perform an excerpt from “Sonata a tre violini” by Johann Schmelzer.
Another finalist in the 2011 EMA Naxos recording competition is the ensemble Agave Baroque. This group, specializing in string repertoire of the 17th century, has kept very busy since their founding in 2007. They have performed to sold-out crowds across the country and have received a commission from the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles to collaborate on an art film based on the music of Henry Purcell. We’ll hear them perform part four of Heinrich Biber’s Mensa Sonora.
The fourth of five finalists in the EMA Naxos recording competition is Armonia Celeste. The group focuses on rarely heard Italian Renaissance and early Baroque composers, and it consists of three sopranos, a lutenist, and harpist.
We’ll hear them perform the “fan battaglia” by baroque composer Luigi Rossi.
And the winner is…Wayward Sisters
The winner of the 2011 EMA Naxos Recording Competition is the ensemble Wayward Sisters, consisting of violinist Beth Wenstrom, cellist Anna Steinhoff, and recorder player Anne Timberlake, with lutenist and theorbist John Lenti.
Said one competition judge, “Wayward Sisters is captivating from beginning to end. I immediately know that I am listening to a living, breathing ensemble.” We’ll hear them perform Matthew Locke’s Suite in G major.
Feature recording: Music from 17th-century Germany
The ensemble His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts has been around for almost thirty years and has collaborated with some of the most prestigious ensembles including the Monteverdi Choir, the BBC Singers, and the choir of King’s College, Cambridge to name just a few. In 2010 they released a compilation of music by 17th-century German composers.