Most of my singing these days happens with Red Byrd, the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and the Dowland Project. I also have a voices & piano group called The Last Century Ensemble with York colleagues Nicky Losseff and Anna Maria Friman. Current programmes include Shostakovich (Jewish Folksongs), Schumann duets and Brahms Liebeslieder.
In 2005 Red Byrd released an album of Scottish medieval music on Hyperion, the third in our exploration of music of the 12th and 13th centuries. We have recently been joined by German baritone Thomas Bauer and can now offer programmes which include the great 4 voice conducti of Perotin alongside their highly-acclaimed music from the Magnus Liber of Leonin. Red Byrd has also commissioned new works for this line-up by Ivan Moody, John Surman and Jonathan Owen Clark. The group also has a '17th century' continuo arm with soprano Anna Maria Friman and lute. This ensemble specialises in English and Italian music and recently commissioned Gavin Bryars' 3rd Book of Madrigals for performance at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.
The Dowland Project
The Dowland Project began as an artistic collaboration between John Potter and ECM’s Manfred Eicher, and was an attempt to re-discover the essence of renaissance song from the point of view of a modern performer. John Potter suggested Dowland and Manfred Eicher proposed augmenting the obligatory early music players with jazz musicians. The first recording for ECM brought together John Surman, Barry Guy, Maya Homberger and Stephen Stubbs and was a Sunday Times Record of the Year. The group made its live debut at the Bremen Musikfest, and has since performed on both sides of the Atlantic including St Patrick’s cathedral New York, the Munich Opera House and the Festival de Musica Visual, Lanzarote. The band has since released ‘Care-Charming Sleep’ – a similar treatment of English and Italian songs from the post-Dowland generation.
The Dowland Project opened the South Bank’s Early Music Weekend earlier this season with a return to Dowland. The group’s third album for ECM will be released in Europe in June and in the USA in October. The new line-up expects to tour later in the 2007/8 season (both in Europe and the USA) with its current line-up of John Potter (tenor), John Surman (sax, bass clarinet, recorder), Milos Valent (violin & viola) and Stephen Stubbs (lute). The music includes trouvere songs and Minnelieder, Portuguese folksongs and an experiment with some fifteenth century Franco-Flemish mass movements. A fourth album, consisting of medieval texts and some completely improvised pieces, has been edited and is awaiting a release date. There has been considerable recent interest in the group’s original Dowland album, which was one of those listened to by Sting when researching his own Dowland recording.
John Dowland: In Darkness let me Dwell ECM New Series 1697
Gavin Bryars Ensemble
I’ve worked with Gavin Bryars since the Hilliard Ensemble commissioned Glorious Hill in 1980. More recently I joined the GB Ensemble for programmes of Madrigals and Laude. A first CD of Laude is now available and further recordings will appear in the future.