Circe's Consort is a new concept in early music. We explore the music of the 16th and 17th centuries focusing on baroque aesthetics and the influence of continuo accompaniment and its impact on Westsern Music as it evolved, effects most directly seen in the birth of opera after the Florentine Camerata of 1573, a seminal meeting of humanist scholars from diverse disciplines. What they thought of as a return to the classical Greek style of drama and musical performance instead created a revolution which has impacted all modern Western music ever since, and which continues to inform the music of today.
In Circe's Consort, we speak our program notes while presenting the music in a context which invities new audiences into unfamilair classical terrain. While the baroque guitar, theorbo and harp form the core of the group, a wonderful cast of singers, rising stars all, rotates through several programs depending on their availability when not on tour and when in the country! We also seek out our audiences in performance venues outside of the traditional staid concert hall, everywhere from cafés, house concerts, and of course church and library series. The result is a fresh approach.
Our launching concert was at that venerable free-thinkers venue, the Corneila Street Cafe in Greenwich VIllage, with tenor Brandon J. King, The program was Barbara Strozzi: A Voice from 16th Century Venice. For the Seabury Academy Mid-Day Music series we performed Music form Baroque Spain, with tenor Jorge Prego. Annalisa Ewald accompanied on baroque guitar for both programs. Adventures from Luz Y Norte by RIbayez, with baroque harpist Richard Spendio is next on the menu.
We will keep you posted on upcoming concerts. Please refer to the Performance Calendar on the homepage of this website.
Circe's Consort - Core Artists
Richard Spendio - Harp
Richard Spendio attended SUNY at Geneseo (music and theater history) and the University of Pisa, Italy(Renaissance Studies) as an undergraduate, and then continued graduate studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, in these disciplines as well as studying pedal harp. Moving to New York to continue harp study, he began performing professionally on pedal harp in 1976, as a musician In Off-Broadway theatre productions, and soon, in many other solo and group settings.
By the early 1980’s he began a series of long term steady solo pedal harp engagements playing classical and popular music at prestigious venues : the Peninsula Hotel, the Terrace (Butler Hall), the Hilton(Short Hills) and frequently at the Plaza Hotel. Keeping a longtime an interest in early harps, he was a charter member of the Historical Harp Society at its founding (1984).
Here, the friendships he developed with historical harp pioneers Judy Kadar (Berlin), Mara Galassi (Milan) and particularly Cheryl Ann Fulton(California) provided invaluable insights and exchanges for the methods of adapting and transforming modern harp techniques into ones suited to single and double row harps of the 16th and 17th centuries. While continuing to perform on the modern Pedal Harp, he has been avidly pursuing the Renaissance and Baroque instruments, and since 2015, has been a member of the New York Continuo Collective, where playing with lutes, theorbos, and baroque guitars provides a great opportunity for study and performance.
Annalisa Ewald - Classical Guitar
Annalisa Ewald, studied classical guitar with Sophocles Papas, colleague of Andrés Segovia, and after studies at San Francisco Conservatory and Bard College won grants for five concert series in NY State from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA,) initiated the Warne Lounge Concert series for the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. and has been a featured performer for numerous societies and festivals including the Villa Lobos Festival, the Washington, D.C.Guitar Society and the Santa Barbara Bach Festival.
Her first live solo album was well-received by critics and garnered the No. 8 spoton the Billboard Traditional Classical chart. Her collected transcriptions of Argentine tangos by Carlos Gardel is pending publication by her publishing company, Hipogriffe Editions. After decades of teaching she developed The Ewald Suzuki Guitar Method, a proprietary approach to learning classical guitar. She is a frequent soloist and ensemble player in the NY metropolitan area and recently launched Circe’s Consort, an ensemble exploring seldom-heard music of the 16th and 17th centuries.