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:: Red Byrd

John Potter
Richard Wistreich


Red Byrd - John Potter, Richard Wistreich



Red Byrd believes that the point of singing the music of the past is to illuminate the present. Its constant members are John Potter and Richard Wistreich, who are joined by other singers and instrumentalists with a strong grounding in early music to explore song old and new.


Its first concert, in the Musikfest Bremen in 1989, ranged from Monteverdi to Frank Martin and John Paul Jones, and in 1990-91 it toured Britain with both early and contemporary programmes. Since then it has visited the USA, Canada, Ireland, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy and Finland.


In 1993 it gave the first performance of Ivan Moody’s Passsion And Resurrection with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at the Tampere International Choir Festival, Finland. It later recorded the work with Cappella Amsterdam for Hyperion, adding to recordings of music by Monteverdi, Blow and Purcell with the Parley of Instruments on that label; the group has also made several recordings on Virgin Classics and Naxos. In 1998, Red Byrd’s first Léonin recording, Magister Leoninus, was made a disc of the year by the French magazine Diapason and BBC Music Magazine. A second CD of music by Léonin came out in 2001, and the group’s latest release (described as ‘absolutely stunning’ by BBC Music Magazine) is A Scottish Lady Mass – Sacred Music from Medieval St Andrews. Broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 have ranged from music by Landini, Palestrina and Purcell to John Cage, Thea Musgrave, Nigel Osborne and John Surman. All Red Byrd CDs except the hard-to-find Songs of Love and Death are available from the Amazon Red Byrd Store.





Pierrot Lunaire

Roger Marsh: Albert Giraud’s Pierrot Lunaire (NMC D127)

Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Thea Musgrave: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (NMC D167)

scottish lady mass

A Scottish Lady Mass: Sacred Music from Medieval St Andrews Hyperion CDA67299

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"The listener is left marvelling at the ingenuity and imagination that produced such an intriguing wealth of rhythmic, harmonic and textural effects from the interplay of just two voices. Red Byrd's performances convincingly recreate this distant sound-world, as well as conveying the excitement with which musicians must have explored the thrilling possibilities opened up by the idea of having two notes sounding simultaneously." Elizabeth Roche, Daily Telegraph

"The music is stark and plainly cast, and these very experienced early-music singers effectively capture its direct, unadorned style, delivered with their typically warm, accurately pitched, carefully inflected, prodigiously engaging voices." David Vernier, Classics Today

magister leoninus

Magister Leoninus: Sacred Music from 12th century Paris Helios CDH55328

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'Sung with beguiling beauty. These readings renew our sense of wonder at western music's most fundamental innovation - the sound of two voices simultaneously singing different lines that not only fit with, but also enhance, each other' (The Sunday Times)

'A fine contribution to the repertoire on disc of twelfth-century polyphony. A composite sound of great beauty' (Gramophone)

'Marvellously atmospheric. A rare and highly rewarding disc. Brilliant performances of neglected treasures' (Classic CD)

'Avec un splendide choeur pour le plain-chant, Red Byrd proposent une rencontre vivante et vibrante avec Léonin' (Répertoire, France)

'Absolutely stunning. Lost music re-born' (BBC Music Magazine)

magister leoninus 2

Magister Leoninus II Helios CDH55338

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'John Potter and Richard Wistreich wring the utmost tenderness and beauty from these pieces - especially in the verse of 'Sedit angelus' where the word 'crucifixum' is made to evoke a mysterious medieval religious agony. And the odd, searing harmonies in 'Iudea et Iherusalem' take us into a long-lost, almost psychological world of musical expression.' Anthony Pryor, BBC Music Magazine March 2002

magister leoninus 2

Monteverdi: Balli & dramatic madrigals Hyperion CDA 66475 (1991)

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'One of the most perfect CDs ever made' Classical Express (USA)


Tomkins: Consort Music Naxos 8.550602 (1995)

Gibbons: Songs & Anthems Naxos 8.550603 (1994)

Byrd: Songs & Anthems Naxos 8.550604 (1994) (also Naxos sampler Classic CD 14)

New fashions: Cries & Ballads CRD 3487 (1992)

Elizabethan Christmas anthems Saydisc CD-SAR 46 (1990)

Morley: Joyne Hands Virgin VC 7 91214-2 (1991)

Blow: Awake My Lyre Hyperion CDA 66658 (1993)

Purcell: Hark how the wild musicians sing Hyperion CDA 66750 (1994)

Ivan Moody: Passion & Resurrection Hyperion CDA 66999 (1997)

Songs of Love & Death Factory FAC 336 (1990)

Gibbons: Cries and Fancies Virgin VC 7 90849-2 (1989)