Breathtaking – ensemble bios
About Bruce Dickey
Bruce Dickey is one of a handful of musicians worldwide who have dedicated themselves to reviving the cornetto – once an instrument of great virtuosi, but which lamentably fell into disuse in the 19th century. The revival began in the 1950s, but it was largely Bruce Dickey, who, from the late 1970s, created a new renaissance of the instrument, allowing the agility and expressive power of the cornetto to be heard once again. His many students, over more than 30 years of teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, have helped to consolidate and elevate the status of this once forgotten instrument. For his achievements the Historic Brass Society awarded him in 2000 the prestigious Christopher Monk Award for “his monumental work in cornetto performance, historical performance practice and musicological scholarship.” In 2007 he was honored by British conductor and musicologist Andrew Parrott with a “Taverner Award” as one of 14 musicians whose “significant contributions to musical understanding have been motivated by neither commerce nor ego.”
In the course of his long career as a performer and recording artist he has worked with most of the leading figures in the field of early music, including the legendary pioneers of historically informed perfomance, Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Brüggen and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He was a member for over ten years of Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XX, and has frequently and repeatedly collaborated with Ton Koopman, Monica Huggett, Philippe Herreweghe and many others. Of special importance has been his long-time friendship and collaboration with Andrew Parrott, and in more recent years with Konrad Junghänel.
Bruce Dickey can be heard on countless recordings. His solo CD (“Quel lascivissimo cornetto…”) on Accent with the ensemble Tragicomedia was awarded the Diapason d’or. His second solo CD, entitled “La Bella Minuta”, was released on the Passacaille label in 2011, and was described as “simply a brilliant recording.”
In addition to performing, Bruce Dickey is much in demand as a teacher, both of the cornetto and of seventeenth-century performance practice. In addition to his regular class at the Schola Cantorum he has taught at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, as well as master classes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. He is also active in research on performance practice, and has published, together with Michael Collver, a catalog of the surviving cornetto repertoire, and, together with trumpeter Edward Tarr, a book on historical wind articulation. In 1997, together with his wife Candace Smith, he founded Artemisia Editions, a small publishing house which produces editions of music from 17th-century Italian convents.
In 1981, Bruce Dickey moved to Italy, partly to be closer to the origins and source materials for his instrument and its music. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in a country house, surrounded by vineyards, outside of Bologna, home of the original Concerto Palatino.
About Hana Blažíková
Hana Blažíková, soprano, was born in Prague. As a child she sang in a children’s choir called Radost Praha and played violin. Later she turned to solo singing. In 2002 she graduated from the Prague Conservatory in the class of Ji?í Kotou? and later undertook further study with Poppy Holden, Peter Kooij, Monika Mauch and Howard Crook.
Today Hana specializes in the interpretation of baroque, renaissance and medieval music, performing with ensembles and orchestras around the world, including Collegium Vocale Gent (Philippe Herreweghe), Bach Collegium Japan (Masaaki Suzuki), Sette Voci (Peter Kooij), Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (Ton Koopman), L’Arpeggiata, Gli Angeli Geneve, La Fenice, Tafelmusik, Collegium 1704, Collegium Marianum, Musica Florea, among others.
Hana Blažíková has performed at many world festivals, including Prague Spring, Oude Muziek Utrecht, Resonanzen (Vienna), Tage Alter Musik (Regensburg), Festival de Sablé, Festival de La Chaise – Dieu, Festival de Saintes, Arts festival Hong Kong.
In 2010 and 2013 she took part in a highly praised world tour with St. Matthew’s Passion under the direction of Philippe Herreweghe, and in 2011 she made her debut in Carnegie Hall with Masaaki Suzuki’s Bach Collegium Japan. She also sang a soprano part of St. John’s Passion with Boston Symphony Orchestra during the Easter period of 2011. In November 2014 she participated in the stage production “Orfeo chaman” with L’Arpeggiata in Bogota.
Hana appears on more than 30 CDs, including the well-known series of Bach’s cantatas with Bach Collegium Japan. Hana also plays gothic harp and presents concerts in which she accompanies herself on that instrument. She is also a member of Tiburtina Ensemble, which specializes in the Gregorian chant and early medieval polyphony.
Monica Huggett, violin
Monica Huggett was born in London, in 1953, the fifth of seven children. In order to differentiate herself from her piano-playing siblings, she took up the violin at age six. Her talent became apparent quickly and by the age of twelve, it had been decided by her parents and teachers that she would become a violinist. At age sixteen, she entered the Royal Academy of Music as a student of Manoug Parikian. Although she did well and won several prizes, she was not entirely comfortable with her instrument. Then, at age 19, she was given a baroque violin to try. She was immediately won over by the mellow quality of the gut strings and became a fervent champion of all things baroque.
Since the age of seventeen, Monica has earned her living solely as a performer, teacher and artistic director – beginning in London as a freelance violinist, initially playing string quartets in the pizza express restaurants! Eventually her expertise at baroque violin led to her becoming concertmaster of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and then Artistic Director of various orchestras and ensembles. In 2009 she was appointed the founding Artistic Director of the Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program. Since 2012 she has been Artist in Residence and Artistic Advisor as well a principal baroque violin teacher at the Juilliard School. She has served as guest director of the Seville Baroque Orchestra; the Kristiansand Symphony Norway; Arion Baroque Orchestra, Montreal; Tafelmusik, Toronto; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Philharmonia Baroque, San Francisco; the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra; and Concerto Copenhagen. She also performs frequently as a solo violinist all over the world.
Alongside her work at Juilliard, Monica continues as Artistic Director of both the Irish Baroque Orchestra, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra where she has served as Artistic Director for over twenty years.
Tekla Cunningham, violin
Tekla Cunningham, baroque violin, viola and viola d’amore, leads an active and varied musical life. At home in Seattle, she is Orchestra Director and concertmaster of Pacific MusicWorks, and is an artist-in-residence at the University of Washington. She founded and directs the Whidbey Island Music Festival, now entering its eleventh season, producing and presenting vibrant period-instrument performances of repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to Stephen Foster, and plays regularly as concertmaster and principal player with the American Bach Soloists in California. Her concert performances have earned glowing praise from reviewers and have been described as “ravishingly beautiful” and “stellar”. She has appeared as concertmaster/leader or soloist with the American Bach Soloists, Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Musica Angelica (Los Angeles) and Pacific Baroque Orchestra and has played with Apollo’s Fire, Los Angeles Opera, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra and at the Berkeley Music Festival, Carmel Bach Festival, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Indianapolis, Oregon Bach Festival, Early Music Vancouver Bach Festival, Savannah, Bloomington Early Music Festival and Valley of the Moon Festival. Tekla received her musical training at Johns Hopkins University and Peabody Conservatory (where she studied History and German Literature in addition to violin), Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria, and at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Tekla plays on a violin made by Sanctus Seraphin in Venice, 1746.
Joanna Blendulf, viola da gamba
Joanna Blendulf has performed and recorded with leading early music ensembles throughout the United States and is a sought-after instructor and coach. She maintains an active performance schedule on viols and baroque cello, working with the Nota Bene Viol Consort, Wildcat Viols, the Catacoustic Consort, Parthenia, Portland Baroque Orchestra and Pacific MusicWorks. Ms. Blendulf holds performance degrees with honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where she was awarded the prestigious Performer’s Certificate for her accomplishments in early music performance. Her summer engagements have included performances at Tage Alter Musik Regenburg, Musica Antigua en Villa de Lleyva in Colombia, the Bloomington, Boston and Berkeley Early Music Festivals, the Ojai Music Festivals as well as the Carmel and Oregon Bach Festivals. Ms. Blendulf has been on the faculties of the University of Oregon and Indiana University Historical Performance Institute as well as viol workshops across the country.
Michael Sponseller, organ & harpsichord
Michael Sponseller is recognized as one of the outstanding American harpsichordists of his generation. A highly diversified career brings him to festivals and concert venues all around in recital, concerto soloist, partner to several of today’s finest musicians, and as an active continuo performer on both harpsichord and organ. He studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Lisa Goode Crawford with additional studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music, The Hague. In the next few years, he garnered prizes at the International Harpsichord Competitions of Montréal (1999), the International Harpsichord Competition at Bruges (1998, 2001) as well as First Prizes at both the American Bach Soloists and Jurow International Harpsichord Competitions.
Mr. Sponseller appears regularly as harpsichordist and continuo organist with several of American’s finest baroque orchestras and ensembles, such as Bach Collegium San Diego, Les Délices, Aston Magna, Tragicomedia, Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, and can heard on many recordings from Delos, Centaur, Eclectra, and Naxos et al. At home, Michael is a regular presence at Boston’s Emmanuel Music, having performed over 120 sacred cantatas. His various recordings include a diverse list of composers, including Bach, Handel, Rameau, Praetorius and Laurenti received excellent reviews throughout the world. Early Music America Magazine has said of his performance of the Bach Concertos, “His well-proportioned elegance carries the day quite stylishly.” He has been on faculty at Longy School of Music and Oberlin’s Baroque Performance Institute.
Stephen Stubbs, theorbo & baroque guitar
Stephen Stubbs spent a 30-year career in Europe, and in 2006 returned to his native Seattle in 2006 as one of the world’s most respected lutenists, conductors, and baroque opera specialists. In 2007 Stephen established his new production company, Pacific MusicWorks, based in Seattle. He is the Boston Early Music Festival’s permanent artistic co-director, recordings of which were nominated for five GRAMMY awards. Also in 2015 BEMF recordings won two Echo Klassik awards and the Diapason d’Or de l’Année. Stubbs won the GRAMMY Award as conductor for Best Opera Recording 2015.
In addition to his ongoing commitments to Pacific MusicWorks and Boston Early Music Festival, other recent appearances have included Handels’ Giulio Cesare and Gluck’s Orfeo in Bilbao, Mozart’s Magic Flute and Cosi fan Tutte in Hawaii and Handel’s Agrippina and Semele for Opera Omaha. He has conducted Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle, Edmonton and Birmingham Symphony orchestras.
His extensive discography as conductor and solo lutenist includes well over 100 CDs, which can be viewed at stephenstubbs.com, many of which have received international acclaim and awards.
In 2013, Stephen was appointed Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington School of Music.
Breathtaking – April 28, 2018