Consort of Musicke


Active: 1969
The start of a beautiful friendship began between Anthony Rooley and James Tyler while Rooley was teaching at London's Royal Academy of Music. Rooley, who began his musical career as a classical guitarist, was seeking to branch out into the earlier musical repertories that were calling him: the secular music of Europe's late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. He thus founded the early music ensemble the Consort of Musicke with Tyler, and the early music scene around the world has not been the same since. By the close of its first decade, the ensemble -- which tended at that time to perform instrumental repertories, though frequently adding a single voice -- was achieving striking success in the British media, was awarded a grant from the British Arts Council, and struck a recording contract with Decca. Already the Consort was not only making a name for thoughtful and passionate performances of English secular music, but also had embarked on a lengthy fascination with the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century madrigal repertories. The Consort of Musicke not only featured performances throughout the madrigals of Monteverdi, but seemingly delighted in lesser-known composers: John Coperario, Sigismondo d'India, Henry Lawes, Biagio Marini, Barbara Strozzi, Giaches de Wert, and John Ward.

The three hallmarks of the Consort's nearly three decades of music-making are its vitality, its theatricality, and its consistency. Critics often note the more vibrant sound, especially in comparison to the English Cathedral tradition of perfectly balanced sonic structures. The Consort sacrifices balance for natural emotional flow. This often leads to added visual aspects to performances, as well: gesture or even choreography. It is no accident that the group's video recordings are as popular as the merely audible product. At the same time, the consistency of the Consort's membership aids its dramatic musicality, as many of the same performers have been interacting with each other for decades. The core singers begin with Rooley's wife Emma Kirkby and continue down the roster: Evelyn Tubb, Mary Nichols, Andrew King, Joseph Cornwell, and Simon Grant. Among the prestigious labels that have published their works are Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, L'Oiseau Lyre, Virgin Veritas, Hyperion, ASV, and Rooley's own label, Musica Oscura.

There are 26 Consort of Musicke recordings available.

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