Robert Eisenstein is the 2013 recipient of the Thomas Binkley Award for outstanding achievement in performance and scholarship by the director of a university or college early music ensemble. This award is named for the legendary lutenist and educator Thomas Binkley, who taught at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, made ground-breaking recordings with the Studio der Frühen Musik, and served as founding director of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in both performance and scholarship by the director of a university or college collegium musicum.
As an undergraduate at Antioch College, Robert Eisenstein met his future Folger Consort colleagues Scott Reiss and Christopher Kendall. He attended the graduate program in the performance of early music at Sarah Lawrence College, and studied viola da gamba with Judith Davidoff and then Richard Taruskin. He is a founding member, co-artistic director and programming director of the Folger Consort, early music ensemble in residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC since 1977. Recent projects with the Folger Consort include a recording of English anthems centered on the 400th Anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, an evening of recited Shakespeare and music for the Tempest with Sir Derek Jacoby and countertenor David Daniels, a fully staged musical version of the 15th-century Second Shepherds Play and collaborations with Anonymous 4, Piffaro, and French violinist Julien Chauvin. Although his primary instrument is viola da gamba, Mr. Eisenstein performs regularly on medieval fiddle, violin, and recorder as well. He has performed with many ensembles including the Washington Bach Consort, the Newberry Consort, the National Symphony, Western Wind, Arcadia Players and recently at Tanglewood, Amherst Early Music, and other summer festivals.
Since 1989 he has been the director of the Five College Early Music Program, for which he coaches and directs student ensembles including the Five College Collegium, Euridice Baroque Orchestra and various chamber ensembles. He teaches music history at the University of Massachusetts and Mount Holyoke College as well as a course in Music and Technology at Mount Holyoke, and performs regularly with colleagues in the Mount Holyoke Baroque Ensemble and elsewhere in New England. He directs The Medieval Lyric, Projects for Teaching Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Mount Holyoke College.