Last night after attending a vocal masterclass with tenor Aaron Sheehan, Dana Marsh and I joined him and six other Indiana University faculty at a dinner marked by convivial conversation and much laughter. As Dana introduced each one of them to me, I realized that I was in the company of greatness, each a pioneer in early music.
You see, the reason Aaron is here at IU is because of the Five Friends, a series of lectures, master classes and residencies by world class musicians which was established in 2012 when five IU music students tragically perished in a plane crash. A $1 million gift by the Georgina Joshi Foundation set up in their memory focuses on the areas in which the five were interested: voice performance, choral conducting, early music, music theory, composition, and opera. Aaron was a logical choice for this residency in that he is also an IU graduate.
Sitting directly to my left was Wendy Gillespie, and only after a few moments of conversation I realized I had heard her speak on NPR just last weekend when I listened to Harmonia, and she was the guest host. A 1972 graduate of Wellesley College, Wendy Gillespie is an award-winning viola da gamba player, and is regarded as one of the greatest players in the world today. She is a former member of Fretwork, a viol consort which has made many recordings and concertized extensively throughout the world. Wendy told me she had been to Hawaii only once, at the Pan Pacific Gamba Gathering. Yes! I was there too and performed with the Rose Consort! We have a friend in common, Esha Neogy, a viol da gamba player who spends her life between London and Honolulu.
Sitting next to Wendy was Paul Elliott, English tenor who became a well-known singer in London’s busy early music scene and has transferred his career to the United States. I have him on many recordings where he has been a member of the Early Music Consort of London, the London Early Music Group, the Deller Consort, and the Academy of Ancient Music. In 1974, he became a founding member of the Hilliard Ensemble and became more associated with early music performance. He sang the tenor solos in Christopher Hogwood’s recording of Messiah, which you can see below:
Elisabeth Wright is Professor of Harpsichord and Fortepiano at Indiana University and has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and continuo improviser at numerous festivals and concert series around the world, including the Boston and Berkeley Early Music festivals, Tage alter Musik, Tanglewood, Mostly Mozart Festival, Aston Magna, Lufthansa of London, Santa Fe, Sydney, and Early Music Vancouver. Among her students are Avi Stein (who came to Honolulu with Quicksilver) Byron Schenkman, and Ignacio Prego. She is a member of Duo Geminiani with Stanley Ritchie, who was sitting beside her.
Stanley Ritchie has directed and appeared as violin soloist with many period instrument ensembles, including The Academy of Ancient Music, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Tafelmusik, and the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra. He is in demand for master classes and workshops throughout the world. At age 81 he is not definitely NOT retired and remains on the faculty with a full-time schedule.
Nigel North was the lutenist I heard yesterday in recital with Aaron Sheehan. His recording life began in the mid-1970s; while studying at music college, he played viol, cittern, rebec and violin as well as his more usual instruments, lute, theorbo, mandolin and baroque guitar on recordings with some of the English pioneers of early music of that time, such as David Munrow with The Early Music Consort and Alfred Deller with The Deller Consort.
Myron Lutzke is well known to audiences as a cellist on both modern and period instruments. His numerous recordings include the complete Mozart and Schubert piano trios with the Mozartean Players and the album Working Classical with the Loma Mar quartet for Paul McCartney. He has recorded for the Sony, DG, Dorian, Atma, Arabesque, EMI, and Oiseau-Lyre labels. He teaches regularly at the Indiana University Early Music Institute and is currently on the faculty of the Mannes School of Music where he teaches period cello and Baroque performance practice. He has also served as director of the Amherst Early Music Baroque Academy.
I know I wrote about him in a previous post but here is more information about Aaron Sheehan: his singing has taken him to many festivals and venues including; Tanglewood, Concertgebouw, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington National Cathedral, the early music festivals of Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver, Houston, Tucson, Washington DC, and Madison, as well as the Regensburg Tage Alter Musik.
Finally my host and long-time friend Dana Marsh is Associate Professor of Early Music and Director of the Historical Performance Institute at Indiana University. He has developed a broad-ranging career in the field of Historical Performance as an ensemble director, countertenor, organist and academic. His early training came as a boy chorister at St. Thomas Choir School in New York and at Salisbury Cathedral in England. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, with subsequent Masters and Doctoral degrees in Historical Musicology coming from the University of Oxford. Marsh has taught early-music history at both Oxford and Cambridge universities and has published articles through the scholarly presses of both institutions. Dana has also performed as a countertenor and conductor in Hawaii and most recently conducted Early Music Hawaii’s concert of Spanish music from both old and new worlds.
A veritable Who’s Who in the world of early music sitting at dinner together —what an honor!