Finalists in EMA Baroque Performance Competition Announced

5 Jun 2012

[SEATTLE, WA]. Early Music America, the national service organization for the field of early music, is pleased to announce six finalist ensembles in its new Baroque Performance Competition. The purpose of this competition is to promote the career development of new and emerging period-instrument ensembles, and the Grand Prize includes a cash award, plus bookings on 4 prestigious early music concert series. The finalists were selected by an independent panel of three judges. The 6 finalist ensembles will compete in a live concert on October 10, 2012, at Corpus Christi Church in New York City. Both a Grand Prize winner and an Audience Prize winner will be selected at that time.

The finalists (in alphabetical order) are:
Agave Baroque. Aaron Westman, baroque violin; Shirley Hunt, viola da gamba; JungHae Kim, harpsichord; Kevin Cooper, baroque guitar. Agave Baroque is a dynamic, young Bay Area ensemble specializing in string chamber music of the seventeenth century. Now in their fourth season, Agave Baroque has emerged as a unique and innovative voice in the early music community, both locally and nationally. In 2011, Early Music America selected Agave Baroque as one of five finalists in the NAXOS/EMA Recording Competition. In 2012, Agave Baroque was selected by the San Francisco Early Music Society to present a mainstage event on the 2012 Berkeley Early Music Festival. Most recently, Agave Baroque received a grant from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music to record a CD featuring the music of Biber, Bertali, and Schmelzer. Agave Baroque has performed to sold-out crowds throughout the Bay Area, including Barefoot Chamber Concerts, Chattanooga Chamber Music, Old First Concerts, Trinity Chamber Concerts, and the Berkeley Festival. On-air appearances include KPFK Pacifica Radio, New Mexico Public Radio, as NPR's Harmonia. Agave Baroque has also presented several programs to groups of K-12 educators as part of the San Francisco Symphony's "Keeping Score" program.

Ostraka. Josh Lee, bass viola da gamba; John Lenti, theorbo; David Walker, guitar. Founded by Bay Area viol virtuoso Josh Lee, Ostraka has been described as “an utter intellectual and aural delight.” With lutenists John Lenti and David Walker, the trio explores oft-ignored music of the Renaissance and Baroque, bringing a dynamic intimacy to each performance. Recent engagements have brought Ostraka to audiences throughout the US with performances in San Francisco, Boston, Tucson, Louisville and Berkeley. Their debut recording Division was released in 2010 garnering the trio praise as an "ensemble that plays even the most exasperatingly difficult music with total elegance and care."

Pallade Musica. Tanya LaPerrière, violin; Elinor Frey, violoncello; Esteban La Rotta, theorbo; Mylène Bélanger, harpsichord. Pallade Musica brings together four of Montreal's most promising Early Music performers. Having played together for the past three seasons in groups such as Ensemble Caprice, Arion, and Proemio, the members of Pallade Musica discovered that they shared similar musical interests. The members of Pallade Musica have diverse backgrounds, coming from Quebec, the USA, and Colombia, and have studied at McGill, ESMuC Barcelona, Civica Scuola di Milano, Scuola Cantorum Basiliensis, Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles and the Juilliard School. Currently performing concerts featuring seicento repertoire, Pallade Musica seeks to explore the repertoire for the violin and the cello in which the cello serves not only as the basso continuo, or as the solo instrument, but as a melodic counterpart for the violin.

The Sebastians. Daniel S. Lee, violin; Alexander Woods, violin; Ezra Seltzer, cello; Avi Stein, harpsichord. Praised for their “well-thought-out articulation and phrasing” (Early Music Review) and “elegant string playing . . . immaculate in tuning and balance” (Early Music Today), the Sebastians specialize in music of the Baroque and Classical eras and newly commissioned works for period instruments. The Sebastians were finalists in the 2011 York International Early Music Competition and the 2011 Early Music America/Naxos Recording Competition. For the tricentennial of the publication of Antonio Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico, the Sebastians commissioned composer Robert Honstein to write a companion suite, which they premiered alongside Vivaldi’s work in December 2011. This season they present a series of thematic concerts as artists-in-residence at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Manchester, CT. They will also participate in the Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshop with L’Arpeggiata and perform at Music Matters at LaGrua Center in Stonington, CT, Friends of Music at Pequot Library in Southport, CT, Juilliard in Aiken in Aiken, SC., and in the Twelfth Night Festival and Concerts@One at Trinity Wall Street in New York City.

Les Sirènes. Kathryn Mueller, soprano; Kristen Watson, soprano; Michael Sponseller, harpsichord; Cora Swenson, Baroque cello. Boston-based Les Sirènes takes audiences on an exploration of the soprano voice and the Baroque repertory, offering programs that engage listeners with both fiery virtuosity and anguishing beauty. Formed in 2009, they bring a collective experience to interpreting this rare and remarkable repertoire. As soloists, the members of Les Sirènes have performed with such groups as the American Bach Soloists, Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Mark Morris Dance Group, Washington Bach Consort, Bach Collegium San Diego, and the Carmel Bach Festival. Les Sirènes have been praised for their “exquisitely matched style and phrasing” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer), and have collaborated with emerging baroque violinists Beth Wenstrom and Adriane Post as well as chamber groups such as Cambridge-based Sarasa. Recent performances include concerts in Tucson, AZ, Brattleboro, VT, Cambridge and Concord, MA, and at Trinity Wall Street in New York City. Upcoming engagements include the San Francisco Early Music Society, Arizona Early Music Society, and Museum Concerts in Providence, RI.

Zweikampf. Faythe Vollrath and Stephen Gamboa, harpsichords. Known for their provocative playing, the harpsichord duo Zweikampf brings a fresh look to old music. These young musicians promote historical performance through eclectic programming, engaging concert presentations, and community outreach. Their repertoire, however, is by no means limited to early music. Zweikampf champions the duo harpsichord repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as popular music. Zweikampf debuted at the International Baroque Institute at the Longy School of Music in 2009. Since then, they have maintained an active performance schedule, recently appearing at the Berkeley Festival, California State University, Sacramento campus, and St. Mark’s Concert Series in Islip NY. Both originally from California, Faythe and Stephen are award-winning soloists with wide ranging interests.

About Early Music America
Early Music America serves and strengthens the early music community in North America and raises public awareness of early music. EMA was founded in 1985 and provides its 3,000 members with publications, advocacy, and technical support. EMA publishes the quarterly magazine Early Music America. “Early music” includes western music from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods, performed on period instruments in historically-informed styles. For more information, contact Early Music America at 206-720-6270 or 888-SACKBUT, or visit our web site at www.earlymusic.org.

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