Robert Mealy is one of America’s most prominent Baroque violinists. His playing has been praised by the Boston Globe for its “imagination, taste, subtletly, and daring;” the the New Yorker called him “New York’s world-class early music violinist.” Mr. Mealy began exploring early music in high school, first with the collegium of UC Berkeley and then at the Royal College of Music in London. While still an undergraduate at Harvard, he was asked to join the distinguished Canadian Baroque orchestra Tafelmusik. Since then, he has recorded over 80 CDs of early music on most major labels, ranging from Hildegard of Bingen with Sequentia, to Renaissance consorts with the Boston Camerata, to Rameau operas with Les Arts Florissants. He has appeared at international festivals from Berkeley to Bergen, and from Melbourne to Moscow.
A devoted chamber musician, he co-directs Quicksilver, whose recordings and festival appearances have delighted audiences across America. As Orchestra Director for the Boston Early Music Festival, he has led the ensemble in operas, international tours, and Grammy-award-winning recordings for over a decade. A frequent leader and soloist in New York, Mr. Mealy is principal concertmaster of Trinity Wall Street, with whom he has performed the complete sacred vocal works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Projects in 2019-20 include directing a fully-choreographed program of Rameau dances with Juilliard415 at Alice Tully Hall, recording Charpentier and Lalande in Germany with BEMF, and directing a program of ars subtilior with TENET at the Cloisters, along with Ravensong’s project of performing all the Bach sonatas for violin and harpsichord with Leon Schelhase.
A keen scholar as well as a performer, Mr. Mealy is Director of the Historical Performance Program at The Juilliard School. He has led his Juilliard students in acclaimed performances at Alice Tully Hall as well as on international tours, including performances as conservatory-in-residence at the Utrecht Festival, regular appearances at Les Jardins de William Christie in Thiré, and recently on an extended tour to India. From 2009 to 2015, he taught at Yale, directing the postgraduate Yale Baroque Ensemble and the undergraduate Yale Collegium. Prior to that, he taught at Harvard for over a decade, where he founded the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra. In 2004, he received Early Music America’s Binkley Award for outstanding teaching and scholarship. He still likes to practice.
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, and 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. He has 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 be heard on over twenty recordings from Delos, Centaur, Eclectra, and Naxos et al. At home, he is a regular presence at Boston’s Emmanuel Music, having performed over 125 sacred cantatas of J.S. Bach. 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 J.S. Bach Concertos: “His well-proportioned elegance carries the day quite stylishly.” Sponseller has been on faculty at Longy School of Music and Oberlin’s Baroque Performance
Institute, and is Associate Music Director of Bach Collegium San Diego.
Philadelphia native Sylvia Berry has performed extensively at home and abroad as a soloist and chamber musician. Hailed by Early Music America as "a complete master of rhetoric, whether in driving passagework or [in] cantabile adagios,” she is known not only for her exciting performances, but for her engaging commentary about the music and the instruments she plays. Her disc of Haydn's London Sonatas - recorded for Acis on an 1806 Broadwood - garnered critical acclaim. A review in Fanfare enthused, “To say that Berry plays these works with vim, vigor, verve, and vitality, is actually a bit of an understatement.” Ms. Berry is one of North America's leading exponents of the fortepiano, as well as other historical keyboard instruments, including the harpsichord, virginal, and clavichord. She dedicates herself to the performance practices of the 18th and early 19th centuries, with an avid interest in the sociological phenomena surrounding the music of that period. In addition to her performing activities, Ms. Berry is a respected scholar and has written and lectured widely on these topics. Starting with the viola at age eleven and the piano at age thirteen, Berry went on to study at the New England Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague in the Nertherlands. As a student in the field of early music, she was fortunate to study and coach chamber with many luminaries and pioneers, including Malcolm Bilson, Lisa Goode Crawford, David Boe, Wilbert Hazelzet, Elizabeth Wallfisch, and Eric Hoeprich. Highlights of past performances include appearances on the Fringe Series of the Utrecht Early Music Festival; the Benton Fletcher Collection at Fenton House in London; “Drive Time Live” on WGBH Radio; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; the Cambridge Society for Early Music; the Connecticut Early Music Festival; the Portland (ME) Early Music Festival. She is also active as a writer, penning numerous sets of CD liner notes (most notably for Bart van Oort's recordings of The Complete Keyboard Works of Mozart released in 2006) as well as articles for magazines and journals such as Early Music America, Keyboard Perspectives (the yearbook of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies) and the Journal of European Piano Teachers Association: Netherlands and Belgium Edition. Her ensemble The Berry Collective features a rotating cast of some of today’s best performers in the field of Early Music who perform in orchestras such as The Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Tafelmusik, A Far Cry, Anima Eterna Brugge, and Grand Harmonie. The focus is on music ranging from the time of Schobert (a little-known German composer working in France whose music was very influential to composers such as Mozart and Boccherini) to Schubert, a beloved titan of early romanticism whose music shines forth with new brilliance when performed on historical instruments.
Geoffrey Burgess has played a key role in the early music revival on three continents. Australian by birth, he has played Baroque oboe around the globe, and is known equally as a scholar of early music. He was a member of Les Arts Florissants in Paris for twenty years, and since relocating to the U.S. in the 90s, has appeared regularly as soloist, orchestral and chamber musician with the Washington Bach Consort, Philadelphia Bach Collegium, Concert Royal (New York), Mercury Orchestra (Houston), the Boston Early Music Festival Ensemble, Publick Musick (Rochester), New York State Baroque, and Kleine Kammermusik.
At the Boston Early Music Festival, 2017 Geoffrey presented his recordings of solo and chamber works, including Fanfare and Filigree, Kleine Kammermusik’s premier recording, and two recent titles of interest to early music aficionados: Well-Tempered Woodwinds: Friedrich von Huene and the Making of Early Music in a New World (Indiana Univ. Press, 2015), and his critical edition of Bruce Haynes’ Nachlass, The Pathetick Musician: Moving an Audience in the Age of Eloquence (Oxford Univ. Press, 2016).
In addition to numerous recordings of orchestral and operatic repertoire, Geoffrey’s solo recordings include music of the Bach Family, contemporary commissions, and Classical chamber music with the Cambini Winds. Dr Burgess has taught at Stony Brook, Duke, and Columbia Universities, as well as on the faculties of Oberlin, Longy and Amherst summer schools. He is currently Baroque Oboe Instructor at Temple University and the Eastman School of Music. He is regularly invited as a master teacher for workshops and conferences, and as well as give guest lectures at the Festival Oude Muziek, Utrecht this season he will coach students at Amsterdam Conservatory, The Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, and the Paris Conservatoire.
Viola da Gamba
Sarah Cunningham is recognized as one of the foremost viola da gambists worldwide. She trained at Harvard University, the Longy School of Music, and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Holland. She was co-founder, with Monica Huggett, of Trio Sonnerie, with whom she recorded most of the important chamber music for violin and viol, and toured on four continents between 1982 and 1997. She was invited by Sir James Galway to collaborate on his CDs of Bach's flute music, and toured with him in Europe and the USA. Her solo CDs were released on ASV and EMI/Virgin Classics, and she has appeared as recitalist from Helsinki to Vancouver. As concerto soloist she recorded works by Telemann with The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Monica Huggett. She has toured and recorded with John Eliot Gardiner, William Christie, Simon Rattle, Trevor Pinnock, Ton Koopman, Gustav Leonhardt, Roger Norrington; with viol consorts Les Filles de Sainte Colombe, Fretwork, Phantasm, Hesperion XX, Parthenia; medieval ensembles Sequentia and Virelai; and baroque chamber music with Camerata Kilkenny and others. She founded and directed the East Cork Early Music Festival in Ireland from 2003-2009.
She teaches in the recently established Historical Performance Department at the Juilliard School, was professor of viola da gamba in Bremen, Germany from 1990-2000, and has taught at numerous summer academies and master classes worldwide.
In recent years she has pursued interests in improvisation, dance, fiction and poetry writing, visual art, shamanic healing and ritual performance art. In 2007-8 she was the recipient with dancer Tara Brandel of a bursary grant from the Arts Council of Ireland to develop their improvisational work together. She has led improvisation workshops for the Viola da Gamba Society of America, and performed in solo and ensemble free improvisation projects, some with dance, in a variety of venues.