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Dame Emma Kirkby, the "Queen of Early Music," embarks on a rare US tour
by Whitney Holden for Vocal Area Network
Posted October 15, 2009

Emma Kirkby and Jakob LindbergDame Emma Kirkby, lauded as one of the top 10 "Greatest Sopranos of All Time" by BBC and the "Queen of Early Music" by enthusiasts worldwide, will embark on a rare U.S. tour on October 16, 2009. With ten performances scheduled across America, the "Musique and Sweet Poetrie" tour will feature renowned lutenist Jakob Lindberg, who will play on a unique 10-course Renaissance lute by Sixtus Rauwolf c. 1590. Each performance on the tour will feature one of two arranged programs: "Music at Twilight," a compilation of songs and solos from early 17th Century Europe, and "Orpheus in England: Dowland and Purcell," a program celebrating the 350th anniversary of Henry Purcell's birth.

New Yorkers will have the opportunity to hear both programs, as "Music at Twilight" will be presented at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall on Tuesday, October 20 at 7:30 PM, and "Orpheus in England" at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church on Sunday, November 1 at 3:00 PM.

Kirkby and Lindberg's joint album, Musique and Sweet Poetrie: Jewels from Europe around 1600 was released in SACD format in 2007. Together in perfect balance, Kirkby and Lindberg draw the listener in as a companion with whom they are sharing precious intimacies. The songs and lute solos are eclectic, by English, Flemish, German, Italian, French and Polish composers. The works by the better-known English composers stand out for their expressiveness, while others are remarkable for their harmonic and vocal eccentricities, and the variety of the repertoire keeps the album consistently engaging.


Emma Kirkby, soprano

As a classics student at Oxford and then a schoolteacher, Emma Kirkby sang for pleasure in choirs and small groups, always feeling most at home in Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. She joined the Taverner Choir in 1971 and in 1973 began her long association with the Consort of Musicke. Emma took part in the early Decca Florilegium recordings with both the Consort of Musicke and the Academy of Ancient Music, at a time when most college-trained sopranos were not seeking a sound appropriate for early instruments. She therefore had to find her own approach, with enormous help from Jessica Cash in London, and from the directors, fellow singers and instrumentalists with whom she has worked over the years. Emma feels privileged to have been able to build long-term relationships with chamber groups and orchestras, in particular London Baroque, the Freiburger Barockorchester, L'Orfeo (of Linz) and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Fretwork, the Purcell Quartet and now with some of the younger groups, such as Florilegium and the Armonico Consort.

To date, she has made well over a hundred recordings of all kinds, from sequences of Hildegarde of Bingen to madrigals of the Italian and English Renaissance, cantatas and oratorios of the Baroque, works of Mozart, Haydn and J. C. Bach. In 1999 Emma was voted Artist of the Year by Classic FM Radio listeners; in November 2000 she received the Order of the British Empire, and in June 2007 was delighted to be included in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for appointment as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. BBC Music Magazine, in a 2007 survey of critics to find the "Greatest Sopranos of All Time," placed Emma at number 10. In June 2008, Emma received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Oxford University.

Despite all the recording activity, Emma still prefers live concerts, especially the pleasure of repeating programs with colleagues; every occasion, every venue and every audience combine to create something new from this wonderful repertoire.

Jakob Lindberg, lute

From the age of fourteen, Jakob Lindberg studied with Jörgen Rörby, who gave him his first tuition on the lute. While studying at the Royal College of Music, he further developed his knowledge of the lute repertoire under the guidance of Diana Poulton and decided towards the end of his studies to concentrate on renaissance and baroque music.

Jakob Lindberg is now one of the most prolific performers in this field, and has numerous recordings for BIS. He has brought Scottish lute music to public attention, he has demonstrated the beauty of the Italian repertoire for chitarrone and he has recorded chamber music by Vivaldi, Haydn and Boccherini on period instruments. He is the first lutenist to have recorded the complete solo lute music by John Dowland, and his recording of Bach's music for solo lute is considered to be one of the most important readings of these works.

Jakob Lindberg is an active continuo player on the theorbo and arch lute and has worked with many well known English ensembles including The English Concert, Taverner Choir, The Purcell Quartet, Monteverdi Choir, Chiaroscuro, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Academy of Ancient Music. He is also in demand as an accompanist and has given recitals with Emma Kirkby, Ann Sofie von Otter, Nigel Rogers and Ian Partridge.

It is particularly through his live solo performances that he has become known as one of the finest lutenists in the world today; he has given recitals in many parts of Europe, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Canada and the USA. Jakob Lindberg has also been professor of lute at the Royal College of Music in London since 1979.


For tickets to the Weill Recital Hall performance, call the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 212-247-7800 or visit www.carnegiehall.org. For tickets to the Nov 1 performance at Madison Avenue Presbyterian, call 212-288-8920 or visit www.mapc.com.

Whitney Holden is a publicist with Cohn Dutcher Associates.

Content Contact: Whitney Holden.
Revision Date: October 15, 2009.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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