IESTYN DAVIES, Countertenor, & THOMAS DUNFORD, Lute

SPECIAL EVENT—One Performance Only

England’s Orpheus: Dowland, Purcell, and Handel

Iestyn Davies, one of England’s greatest living countertenors, sings songs by three composers—John Dowland, Henry Purcell, and George Frideric Handel—who were likened to Orpheus, the mythical musician. For these songs—at times melancholy, tender, and bawdy—he is joined by the brilliant young lutenist Thomas Dunford, who has been called the “Eric Clapton of the lute” (BBC Music Magazine).”

IESTYN DAVIES, Countertenor; THOMAS DUNFORD, Lute

 

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 4:00PM
First Congregational Church
2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

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Iestyn Davies is a British countertenor widely recognised as one of the world’s finest singers celebrated for the beauty and technical dexterity of his voice and intelligent musicianship. Critical recognition of Iestyn’s work can be seen in two Gramophone Awards, a Grammy Award, a RPS Award for Young Singer of the Year, the Critics’ Circle Award and recently an Olivier Award Nomination. He was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2017 for services to music.

Although blessed with a Welsh name, Iestyn hails from York, born into a musical household, his father being the founding cellist of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet.

He began his singing life as a chorister at St John’s College, Cambridge under the direction of Dr.George Guest and later Christopher Robinson.

Later, after graduating in Archaeology and Anthropology from St John’s College, Cambridge Iestyn studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London of which he is now a Fellow.

In 2015 he delighted London theatre audiences singing the role of Farinelli in the play, Farinelli and the King with Mark Rylance at the Globe Theatre. The hugely successful project transferred to the West End this season and was nominated for a number of Olivier Awards.

His operatic engagements have included Ottone (L’incoronazione di Poppea/Monteverdi) for Zürich Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Arsace (Partenope/Handel) for New York City Opera; Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream/Britten) for Houston Grand Opera, English National Opera and The Metropolitan Opera, New York; Apollo (Death in Venice/Britten) for English National Opera and in his house debut at La Scala, Milan; Hamor (Jephtha/Handel) for Welsh National Opera and Opera National de Bordeaux; Steffani’s Niobe at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; his debut at The Metropolitan Opera Unulfo (Rodelinda/Handel) where he has also appeared as Trinculo The Tempest; the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Rinaldo; Bertarido Rodelinda for English National Opera; his debuts at the Opéra Comique and the Munich and Vienna Festivals in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin and the title role Rinaldo for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He returned to Glyndebourne in 2015 for David in Handel’s Saul.

His concert engagements have included performances at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan with Dudamel, the Concertgebouw and Tonhalle with Koopman and at the Barbican, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Lincoln Centre and at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall with orchestras that include the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Britten Sinfonia, Concerto Köln, Concerto Copenhagen, Ensemble Matheus, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He recently made his debut, in recital, at Carnegie Hall, New York. He enjoys a successful relationship with the Wigmore Hall, where, in the 2012/13 season, he curated his own residency.

Recent highlights have included two Bach recitals at the Edinburgh International Festival, Britten’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Aldeburgh Festival and Schubert’s ‘Die Schöne Müllerin’ with Julius Drake at Middle Temple Hall, London. Future plans include Thomas Adès’s “The Exterminating Angel’ at the Metropolitan Opera New York and Farinelli & the King with Mark Rylance on Broadway, New York.

His recordings include two versions of Handel’s Messiah (New College Oxford, AAM/Naxos) and (Polyphony, Britten Sinfonia/Hyperion), Handel’s Chandos Anthems on Hyperion, Handel’s Flavio for Chandos with The Early Opera Company and Christian Curnyn, Bach’s Easter Oratorio with Retrospect Ensemble, his debut solo recording Live at the Wigmore Hall with his own Ensemble Guadagni, a disc of Porpora Cantatas with Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo,  an award winning disc of works for Guadagni for Hyperion and a disc of Handel arias with The King’s Consort for Vivat. 2014/5 saw the release of The Art of Melancholy, a recital of Dowland songs for Hyperion, Flow my tears, songs for lute, viol and voice on the Wigmore Live label and Arise my muse for which he received the Gramophone Recital Award.  He has added recordings of Bach Cantatas with Arcangelo, Faure Songs with Malcolm Martineau andlooks forward to the release of Bach’s Magnificat and B Minor Mass in the coming months both for Hyperion.

He is the recipient of the 2010 Royal Philharmonic Young Artist of the Year Award, the 2012 & 2014 Gramophone Recital Award, the 2013 Critics’ Circle Awards for Exceptional Young Talent (Singer).

Born in Paris in 1988, Thomas Dunford discovered the lute at the age of nine, thanks to his first teacher Claire Antonini. He completed his studies in 2006 at the Conservatoire de Paris (CRR), when he obtained a unanimous 1st Prize with honors in the class of Charles-Edouard Fantin.

Thomas Dunford continued his studies at the Schola Cantorum in Basel with Hopkinson Smith, and participated in several master classes with artists the caliber of Rolf Lislevand and Julian Bream, and in workshops with Eugène Ferré, Paul O’Dette, Pascale Boquet, Benjamin Perrot and Eduardo Eguez. He was awarded his Bachelor’s degree in 2009.

From September 2003 through to January 2005, Thomas gave his first performances playing the role of the lutenist in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on stage at the Comédie française. Since then, Thomas has played recitals in New York’s Carnegie Hall and Frick Collection, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Washington Kennedy Center, the Vancouver Recital Society, Cal performances at Berkeley, the Banff center, the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, the festivals of Saintes, Utrecht, Maguelone, Froville, TAP Poitiers, WDR Cologne, Radio France Montpellier, Saffron Hall. He made numerous solo or ensemble appearances in the most prestigious European festivals including Ambronay, Arc La Bataille, Bozar, La Chaise-Dieu, Nantes, Saintes, Utrecht and many others. He has also performed further afield in England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Austria, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Czech Republic, Bresil, Colombia, Chili, Mexico, United States, Israel, China, Japan and India.

Thomas Dunford’ first solo CD Lachrimae recorded for the French label Alpha in 2012, was unanimously acclaimed by critics and was awarded the Caecilia prize of 2013, BBC Magazine calling him the “Eric Clapton of the lute”. His second CD « Labirinto d’Amore » with mezzo soprano Anna Reinhold was awarded the « Choc » from Classica magazine.

His extensive discography includes John Dowland’s music with Jeni Melia and Christopher Goodwin; Four CDs with La Cappella Mediterranea of music by Barbara Strozzi, the works Il Diluvio Universale and Nabucco by Falvetti and another work by Zamponi; two CDs of works by Farina and Romero with Clematis Ensemble; violin sonatas with Monica Huggett; two CDs of Forqueray and Dowland with Julien Léonard; Vivaldi with Nicola Benedetti; three recordings of Vivaldi with La Serenissima; Bacilly, Ferrabosco and Marais with A 2 Violes Esgales; Praetorius with Capriccio Stravagante; four CDs of Zelenka, Fasch, bassoon arias, and Haendel with Marsyas; Six CDs with Arcangelo including Guadani arias for countertenor Iestyn Davies, Handel arias for Chris Perves, arias for Anna Prohaska, Monteverdi Madrigals, Couperin’s Leçons de ténèbres, and Charpentier’s Leçons de Ténèbres, Couperin’s Concert Royaux ; Bach’s B minor Mass and Trauerode with Pygmalion; Geoffroy with harpsichordist Aurélien Delage; early Baroque songs and jazz standards with soprano Jody Pou; Dowland with countertenor Jean-Michel Fumas; the early French composer Attaingnant with Pierre Gallon; an English manuscript with La Sainte Folie Fantastique; a duet CD of Dowland with Iestyn Davies; Italian 17th century repertoire for cornetto with La Fenice; Three CDs with Les Arts Florissants : 2 CDs of Airs by Lambert with Les Arts Florissants and Monteverdi’s 7th book of Madrigals, Bach traverso suites with les Musiciens de Saint Julien, a CD of Purcell and Charpentier with Chantal Santon, the 6th book of Gesualdo Madrigals with Philippe Herreweghe.

Thomas Dunford is regularly in demand, playing a variety of early plucked string instruments with the ensembles Les Arts Florissants, Akadêmia, Amarillis, Les Ambassadeurs, Arcangelo, La Cappella Mediterranea, Capriccio Stravagante, Le Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, La Chapelle Rhénane, Clematis, Collegium Vocale Gent, Le Concert Spirituel, Le Concert d’Astrée, A 2 Violes Esgales, The English Concert, l’Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, La Fenice, Les Folies Francaises, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Marsyas, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Les Musiciens du Paradis, Les Musiciens de Saint Julien, Les Ombres, Pierre Robert, Pygmalion, La Sainte Folie Fantastique, Scherzi Musicali, La Serenissima, Les Siècles, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, La Symphonie du Marais…

Thomas Dunford is attracted to a wide variety of music including jazz, and collaborates in chamber music projects with conductors and soloists Paul Agnew, Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, Nicola Benedetti, Keyvan Chemirani, William Christie, Jonathan Cohen, Christophe Coin, Iestyn Davies, Lea Desandre, Isabelle Faust, Bobby McFerrin, Philippe Herreweghe, Monica Huggett, Alexis Kosenko, Francois Lazarévitch, Anne-Sophie von Otter, Trevor Pinnock, Patricia Petibon, Sandrine Piau, Anna Prohaska, Hugo Reyne, Anna Reinhold, Jean Rondeau, Skip Sempé, Jean Tubéry…