Faculty artists Stephen Stubbs (lute and baroque guitar) and Tekla Cunningham (violin) are driving forces behind the success of ensemble-in-residence Pacific Musicworks, whose reputation for excellence has been confirmed through consistently high-quality programming at the UW and in the greater arts region. The musicians’ instrumental and improvisational agility is on display in this program of music performed in the “free and fantastic style”— the free-form, quasi-improvised violin music of the 17th century. The PMW cohorts are joined by colleague Maxine Eilander (harp) and Henry Lebedinski, organ and harpsichord, in this performance featuring music by Farina, Fontana, Schmelzer, Biber and others.
This program traces the “Stylus Fantasticus” from its origins in seventeenth century Italy with Farina, Uccellini and Fontana, and its development in Austria by the great violinist-composers Pandolfi Meally, Albertini, Schmelzer and Biber. The musicians’ instrumental and improvisational agility is on display in this program of music performed in the “free and fantastic style". The improvised style of the violin is grounded by a colorful continuo team of baroque harp, baroque guitar, chittarone, harpsichord and organ, which employ a wide range of colors, textures, and sounds to accompany the violin.
Featuring a small chamber ensemble of Pacific MusicWorks:
Tekla Cunningham, baroque violin
Maxine Eilander, baroque harp
Stephen Stubbs, chittarone and baroque guitar
Henry Lebedinsky, organ and harpsichord
Stephen Stubbs, lute and baroque guitar
Stephen Stubbs is Senior Artist in Residence and member of the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Washington.
After a thirty year career in Europe, musical director and lutenist Stephen Stubbs returned to his native Seattle in 2006. Since then he has established his production company, Pacific Musicworks, and developed a busy calendar as a guest conductor specializing in baroque opera and oratorio.
With his direction of Stefano Landi’s La Morte d’Orfeo at the 1987 Bruges festival, he began his career as opera director and founded the ensemble Tragicomedia. Since 1997 Stephen has co-directed the bi-annual Boston Early Music Festival opera and is the permanent artistic co-director. BEMF’s recordings of Conradi’s Ariadne, Lully’s Thesee, and Psyché were nominated for Grammy awards in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
Stephen was born in Seattle, Washington, where he studied composition, piano and harpsichord at the University of Washington. In 1974 he moved to England to study lute with Robert Spencer and then to Amsterdam for further study with Toyohiko Satoh and soon became a mainstay of the burgeoning early-music movement there, working with Alan Curtis on Italian opera in Italy, William Christie on French opera in France and various ensembles in England and Germany particularly the Hilliard Ensemble.
With his return to Seattle in 2006 he formed the long-term goal of establishing a company devoted to the study and production of Baroque opera. His first venture in this direction was the creation of the Accademia de’Amore, an annual summer institute for the training of pre-professional singers and musicians in baroque style and stagecraft, now housed at the Cornish College of the Arts.
In 2008 he established Pacific MusicWorks. The company’s inaugural presentation was a revival of South African artist William Kentridge’s acclaimed multimedia marionette staging of Claudio Monteverdi’s penultimate opera The Return ofUlysses in a co-production with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. After a warmly received 2010 presentation of Monteverdi’s monumental Vespers of 1610 at Seattle’s St. James Cathedral, PMW presented a full subscription season, opening with a program based on the Song of Songs and ending with two triumphantly successful performances of Handel’s early masterpiece, The Triumph of Time (1707).
As a guest conductor Stubbs has led performances of Gluck’s Orfeo and Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto in Bilbao, Spain, and Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Amsterdam’s Netherlands Opera. Following his successful debut conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in 2011, he was invited back in 2012 to conduct the Symphony’s performances of Messiah. He will also debut with the Edmonton Symphony in Messiah this season.
Tekla Cunningham, violin
Tekla Cunningham, baroque violin, viola and viola d'amore, enjoys a varied and active musical life. At home in Seattle, she is concertmaster of Stephen Stubbs' Pacific MusicWorks, principal second violin with Seattle Baroque Orchestra & Soloists, and plays regularly as concertmaster and principal player with the American Bach Soloists in California. She directs the Whidbey Island Music Festival, a summer concert series presenting vibrant period-instrument performances of repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to Beethoven.
She has appeared as concertmaster/leader or soloist with the American Bach Soloists, Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, and Musica Angelica (Los Angeles). She has also played with Apollo’s Fire, Los Angeles Opera, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and at the Carmel Bach Festival, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Indianapolis Early Music Festival, Savannah Music Festival and the Bloomington Early Music Festival. She has worked with many leading directors including Rinaldo Alessandrini, Giovanni Antonini, Harry Bicket, Paul Goodwin, Martin Haselböck, Monica Huggett, Nic McGegan, Rachel Podger, Jordi Savall, Stephen Stubbs, Jeffrey Thomas, Elizabeth Wallfisch and Bruno Weil.
An avid chamber musician, Tekla enjoys exploring the string quartet repertoire of the 18th and early 19th century with the period-instrument Novello Quartet, whose abiding interest is the music of Haydn. She is also a member of La Monica, an ensemble dedicated to music of the 17th century, whose concerts have been reviewed as “sizzling”, and praised for their “irrepressible energy and pitch-perfect timing”. With Jillon Dupree, harpsichord, and Vicki Boeckman, recorders, she plays in Ensemble Electra, known for its inventive programs and energetic performances.
She can be heard on recordings with the American Bach Soloists, Apollo’s Fire, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Tafelmusik, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Bach Choir, various movie soundtracks including Disney’s Casanova, La Monica’s recent release The Amorous Lyre, a recording of repertoire of Merula and his contemporaries and the Novello Quartet’s recording of Haydn’s Op. 50 string quartets. This summer she recorded Mozart’s Flute Quartets with Janet See, Laurie Wells and Tanya Tomkins.
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, where she completed a Master’s degree with Ian Swenson. She teaches Suzuki violin in both German and English and is on the early music faculty of Cornish College for the Arts.
Maxine Eilander, harp
Seattle based harpist Maxine Eilander plays on a range of specialized early harps: the Italian triple strung harp, the Spanish cross-strung harp, the German ‘Davidsharfe’, the Welsh triple harp for which Handel wrote his harp concerto, and the classical single action pedal harp.
Maxine was born in The Netherlands and grew up in South Africa, where she earned her Bachelor of Music on the classical harp. Her special interest in early music led her to further study at the Hochschule für Kunste in Bremen, Germany, where she completed her post-graduate diploma in early harps and continuo practice. Since then she has appeared as a soloist with many leading ensembles including Tragicomedia and Tafelmusik. Maxine has performed at numerous opera houses and festivals including Boston Early Music Festival, Covent Garden Festival, Staatstheater Stuttgart and Netherlands Opera, playing continuo in productions of various baroque operas and chamber music. In 2012 Maxine was invited to perform Handel’s Harp Concerto at the World Harp Congress in Vancouver, B.C.. From 2005 to 2012, Maxine managed the Accademia d’Amore baroque opera workshops in Seattle. As an administrator, Maxine was the Director of Education for Pacific MusicWorks since 2007, and in 2013 became PMW’s Managing Director.
There is an increasing list of recordings featuring Maxine as a soloist. She has recorded Handel’s Harp, released on ATMA in 2009, with all of Handel’s obligato music written for the harp, including his famous harp concerto, which she has also recorded with Tafelmusik (A Baroque Feast, Analekta, 2002). The 2008 release of William Lawes’ Harp Consorts on ATMA garnered much favorable press, including five stars from Goldberg Magazine. Other recordings include: Sonata al Pizzico, a recording of Italian music for harp and baroque guitar with duo partner Stephen Stubbs (ATMA 2004), and Teatro Lirico released on the ECM label in 2006, Ay que si, Spanish 17th century music with Les Voix Humaines (ATMA, 2002), Scarlatti’s oratorio Hagar and Ishmael, with Seattle Baroque (Centaur, 2003), and Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine, with Tragicomedia (ATMA, 2002), and 2005 Grammy nominated Conradi’s Ariadne for the Boston Early Music Festival (CPO, 2005).
Henry Lebedinsky, harpsichord
Hailed by The Miami Herald for his “superb continuo… brilliantly improvised and ornamented,” Henry Lebedinsky performs on historical keyboards across the United States and the United Kingdom, both as a soloist and as a member of Agave Baroque, Pacific MusicWorks, The Vivaldi Project, The Sonoma Bach Society and The Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. He has also played with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Charlotte Symphony, Seraphic Fire, Boston Revels, and the Harvard Baroque Orchestra, among others. With his ensemble The Seicento String Band, he has been featured on American Public Media’s Performance Today, and he has performed live on APM’s Pipedreams. He is the founder of the Music @ St. Alban’s concert series in Davidson, North Carolina, and served as interim Artistic Director of Charlotte Chamber Music, Inc. and Director of Rochester, NY’s The Publick Musick. Mr. Lebedinsky has taught master classes and workshops on historical keyboards and performance practice at Edinburgh University, Bowdoin College, Davidson College, The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Appalachian State University, and the American Guild of Organists’ 2014 National Convention.
An avid composer of sacred music for choir and organ, his works are published by Carus-Verlag Stuttgart and Paraclete Press. His poetry and hymns have appeared in Fresh Day Magazine and have been sung in churches across the country. His editions of vocal works of 17th century nun composers for Saltarello Editions have been performed around the world, most recently in France, South Korea, and Lebanon. Lebedinsky holds degrees from Bowdoin College and the Longy School of Music, where he earned a Master of Music in historical organ performance as a student of Peter Sykes. When not at a keyboard instrument, he plays guitar and bouzouki with the Celtic traditional music bands Earl’s Chair and The Beggar Boys, who were recently featured in National Public Radio’s syndicated holiday special A Celtic Christmas from Biltmore Estate with Kathy Mattea. Unable to not rock the boat wherever he finds himself, he is the founding director of the guerrilla performance organization Early Music Underground. A church musician for the past 23 years, he currently serves as Director of Music at Christ Episcopal Church in Seattle.