A collection of ballads, readings, madrigals, lutesongs, dance melodies and consort music from sixteenth and seventeenth century England, inspired by nature and in particular the activities of Summertime and the Harvest.
The programme includes music by Cavendish, Bennet, Greene, East, Johnson, Pilkington, Purcell and Robinson, and words by Breton, Herrick, Nashe and Shakespeare.
Passamezzo is a dynamic ensemble dedicated to the performance of Early Music in an accessible, educational and historically informed context. The ensemble specialise in English 16th and 17th Century repertoire, and concerts have a distinct theatrical air created by costume, readings and presentation. The ensemble delights in all aspects of musical life, from the intimacy of the lute song, to the brash raucousness of the broadside ballad, from the sacred part song, to the profane insanity of bedlamite mad songs. The programmes are carefully researched with music frequently taken from manuscript sources, unearthing pieces that have lain hidden for centuries. It is this range of material and overall spectacle, combined with the informative and accessible manner of their presentation, that makes Passamezzo such an engaging group.
Passamezzo often work with dancers and actors. They have played in a great variety of venues including the British Museum; the Shakespeare Institute; The National Gallery; the V&A Museum; Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre; Hampton Court Palace and in theatres, concert halls, stately homes, churches, palaces and ruins throughout England. They also work with with Moroccan Sufi musicians, Ensemble Mogador Soufie performing 17th Century English and Moroccan music in both countries.
Eleanor Cramer (Soprano, Viols) started her vocal studies at the junior department of the Royal Academy of Music, where she also studied cello. She began singing at Cambridge when she won a choral award at Clare College Cambridge. She went on to sing with the choir of Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, and with the Lady Frances Singers; she has also sung with the Choir of London in collaboration with the RPO. Her solo work has included soprano arias in Bach’s St John Passion at St John’s, Cambridge, and Snape Maltings. In addition to several CDs with Passamezzo, her recording work includes the vocal consort Alamire and solo tracks on a CD of Weelkes with the viol consort Fretwork. Eleanor has also played Miles in Britten’s Turn of the Screw with Seastar Opera.
Richard De Winter (Actor, Baritone) was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral, and a choral scholar at Durham Cathedral, before studying musical theatre at the Royal Academy of Music. Since graduating, Richard has performed in a variety of guises, including roles in three original musicals at the Edinburgh Fringe, a stint in the award-winning topical sketch show NewsRevue at the Canal Café Theatre and tours of both the UK and the Far East of an adaptation of Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Last year he toured Spain with the Parlon Film Company, playing Geoffrey Chaucer and a Tajik patriarch (not in the same show), before being a chorus baritone in Mahogany Opera’s production of Britten’s Church Parables. Richard also performs ukulele-based stand-up, creates characters for A Door in a Wall, a company that provides live murder mystery events, and is a historical interpreter at Hampton Court and the Tower of London
Robin Jeffrey (Lute, Theorbo, Guitar) has played and recorded with many of the well-known names in the early music field, including The Sixteen, The King’s Consort, English Baroque Soloists, The Purcell Quartet and Red Byrd, and with ensembles such as the English Chamber Orchestra, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the BBC Concert Orchestra. He has a long track record in opera and stage music, playing for productions at the National Theatre, English National Opera, Shakespeare’s Globe, Opera North and many others.
Besides his work in early music he is active in the performance of Middle Eastern classical and traditional music, playing the oud, laouto and tambour , and he has performed traditional Jewish music internationally with the Burning Bush. He regularly gives recitals accompanying soprano Alessandra Testai, in a repertoire ranging from Renaissance Italy to the Ottoman Empire, taking in various European folk traditions along the way.
During 2015 Robin toured with the New Scorpion Band in The Plains of Waterloo, commemorating the great battle in traditional music of the British Isles
Alison Kinder (Viols, Recorders) read music at Oxford and was then given a scholarship by Trinity College of Music where she studied viol with Alison Crum, being awarded the college’s Silver Medal for Early Music Studies. She plays with Chelys consort of viols, who are currently working on a recording of Dowland with Dame Emma Kirkby, and has a particular interest in Renaissance viols (early viols made with no soundpost) with The Intrepid Academy, who specialise in music of the Italian Renaissance. Alison plays viols, recorders, crumhorns, (and occasionally bagpipes!) with Philomel, whilst occasionally venturing as late as the 18th Century with various Baroque groups. A keen teacher of both adults and children, she is a tutor on several Early Music courses and conducts playing days for Early Music Fora, a recent highlight being a day of ever expanding Gabrieli, culminating in a piece for five choirs written in twenty-two parts!
Tamsin Lewis (Renaissance Violin, Viols, Alto) Tamsin studied violin at the Florence Conservatoire and read Classics and Italian at Oxford. She has written, arranged, directed and played music for many theatre productions, including: Love’s Welcome at Bolsover; Tempe Restored; Play of the Weather; Arraygnment of Paris; Entertaining Morocco;Lilies on the Land; City Wives’ Confederacy; Death of an Actress; The Real Hans Sachs (Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House); The Crystal Den (New End Theatre); Hero and Leander, The Jew of Malta, Dr Faustus and The Roaring Girl (Rose Theatre Site); Spring’s Glorie, The Old Wives Tale Wakes and Revels (Shakespeare’s Globe). Work for Television and Radio: Draw on Sweet Night (Capriol Films); Howard Goodall’s How Music Works; Royal Deaths and Diseases (Channel 4); In Tune (Radio 3).
Tamsin is a member of the Lions part Theatre Company providing music and costume for many of their productions, and frequently appearing in their festivals as a violin-playing bear. She has published a number of books with Rondo Publishing, and is currently working on a series of books on John Playford’s London.