Sinéad Pratschke ~ Soprano
Sinéad Pratschke studied at the University of Western Ontario (B.Mus.), the Royal College of Music (M.Mus.) and the National Opera Studio of Great Britain. Summer courses have taken her to Tanglewood, USA, Banff, Canada, and the Britten-Pears School at Aldeburgh where she has worked with Graham Johnson, Elly Ameling, Suzanne Danco and Hugues Cuénod as well as Sergei Leiferkus, Martin Isepp and Phyllis Curtin among others.
Operatic roles include Zélinde La Guirlande for Musikfestspiele Sanssouci, Berlin, Musetta La Boheme for Scottish Opera, creating the title role in Gwyneth and the Green Knight for Music Theatre Wales at the Royal Opera House, Tytania A Midsummer Night's Dream on tour in The Netherlands, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Thérèse in Les Mamelles de Tirésias for Pimlico Opera, The Dragon of Wantley (Margery) with Opera Restor'd at the Palau de la Musica, Barcelona, The Magic Flute (Pamina ) for Central Festival Opera and in concert at the Barbican Centre, London, Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Snape Maltings Proms and Opera Ontario, Candada, Orfeo ed Euridice (Euridice) for Opera Spezzata, Acis and Galatea (Galatea) for European Chamber Opera, Dorinda in Handel's Orlando for New Chamber Opera as well as Bastienne Bastien et Bastienne in a double bill alongside Haydn's L'Isola dishabitata for English Pocket Opera Company.
Concert engagements have included Apollo e Dafne (Dafne) with Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, J. S. Bach's Magnificat at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, Judas Maccabaeus and Samson at the Maulbronn Handel Festival, Germany, Messiah with Le Parlement de Musique in Rennes, France, the Mozart Mass in C Minor at the Arlesheim Mozart Festival, Switzerland and the opening of the Guelph Civic Center in Canada. Recital appearances have included the Aldeburgh Festival and the Songmakers Almanac with Graham Johnson at St. John's, Smith Square. Her recordings include Judas Maccabaeus, Samson and Rodrigo's Ausencias de Dulcinea with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for EMI. Her numerous awards include grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. She is also teaches for the University of Guelph.
Catherine King ~ Mezzo-Soprano
The English mezzo-soprano, Catherine King, began her vocal studies as a choral scholar at Trinity College Cambridge followed by a period at the Guildhall in London, and later study with Josephine Veasey. Catherine King regularly performs music covering a vast period from the present day back to the 11th century, and in many languages (often with period pronunciation). She has performed with many of the UK's leading ensembles and orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Taverner Consort, Northern Sinfonia, the Nash Ensemble, the Gabrieli Consort and Players, Gothic Voices, London Baroque, Fretwork, Singcircle, the New London Consort, Florilegium and The Academy of Ancient Music. She also makes regular appearances in Brirish and European festivals, including at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester, Edinburgh International Festival, the Lufthansa Festival at St John's Smith Square and the Bruges Early Music Festival, Belgium. Recent appearances (2001) include Prague, Hamburg, Paris, the USA, live BBC broadcasts from the Wigmore Hall and St John's, Smith Square. Well known as a versatile early music specialist, Catherine King's duo with lutenist Jacob Heringman and the group Virelai seek to bring life to long forgotten music, performing it with a freshness which belies the years since its writing. Catherine King frequently performs from the full range of great oratorios throughout the country. As well as works by Händel, Bach and Mozart, she has sung larger scale pieces such as Elgar's Music Makers and Verdi's Requiem. She has recently performed and recorded Händel's Judas Maccabaeus in Germany, Bach arias in Oslo and Lyon, given several performances of Elgar's Dream of Gerontius in Britain, and a series of lute song recitals in the USA. She has also recorded and premiered songs written for her by a number of composers, most recently at the Spitalfields Festival in London with a commission by Andrew Keeling. Opera performances include Mercedes (Carmen) and Diane (Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie), the latter under William Christie. In December 2002 performerd Messiah with Robert King and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway. Contemporary performances include new works in London Spitalfields Festival with Sing Circle, Tippett's Crown of The Year with the Nash Ensemble, as well as premieres of specially commissioned songs performed in the USA , and on radio and CD. Recordings include recitals for Radio Three and on CD with her duo partner lutenist Jacob Heringman, pianist Wayne Marshall, and with leading early music ensembles, including GothicVoices, Fretwork, London Baroque, the New London Consort, the Consort of Musicke and the Taverner Consort. The many CDs she has released during the past five years include the award winning 'Airs de cour' CD for Linn Records, lute songs by Mudarra and Milán (ASV), 20th century songs by Barber and a recording of music by Hildegard of Bingen and Jean Catoire (Virgin Classics). Recent recording project have included Bach Mezzo Arias, for Linn Records, and a disc of songs by Verdelot to coincide with concerts at the Wigmore Hall, London.
Charles Humphries ~ Countertenor
Charles Humphries studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Charles Brett, Michael Chance and James Bowman, and continues his studies with Paul Farrington. He appears regularly as a soloist, not only alongside the recognized baroque ensembles of Britain, but also in his own right throughout the UK and Europe. These appearances include venues such as the Barbican Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels as well as the cities of Copenhagen, Oslo, Prague and Warsaw. Conductors that he has worked for as a soloist include Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Richard Hickox, Robert King, Paul McCreesh, Nicholas McGegan and James O'Donnell. Operatic engagements have included Delfa Giasone (Cavalli) at the Megaron, Athens, the title-role in Pompeo Magno (Cavalli) at the Varazdin Festival of Baroque Music, Croatia, Lichas Hercules at the Hans-Otto Theater, Potsdam, the title-role in Lucio Silla at the Handel Festival, Karlsruhe, the title-role in Tamerlano for the Britten-Pears School and The Sorceress Dido and Aeneas for the King's Consort. Recent concert highlights have included the Chichester Psalms with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Hamor Jephtha at the Lufthansa Baroque Festival, televised performances of Judas Maccabaeus in Slovenia, Messiah with the Ulster Orchestra under Nicholas Kraemer, Monteverdi Vespers 1610 at the BBC Proms, Pergolesi Stabat Mater with the Northern Chamber Orchestra and a recital at the Halle Festival with Trevor Pinnock. Charles Humphries recently sang Tolomeo Giulio Cesare for the Norwegian National Opera. His recordings include Jephtha and Judas Maccabaeus (K&K Verlagsanstalt), Messiah (Capriccio) and Vivaldi Cantatas (ASV).
Mark Le Brocq ~ Tenor
Mark Le Brocq held a choral scholarship at St Catherine's College, Cambridge where he read English. He won several prizes and awards at the Royal Academy of Music including the Blyth Buesset Opera Prize, the Royal Academy of Music Club Prize and the Worshipful Company of Musicians' Medal. He was formerly a company principal with the English National Opera. Over the years, the tenor has worked together with many important directors, including David Alden, David Poutney, Jonathan Miller, Niklaus Lehnhoff, Graham Vick and David Freeman. He performed regularly with the Gabrieli Consort under Paul McCreesh. He sang with Monserat Caballé and Dennis O'Neill in Verdi Opera Galas in Bath, the Mozart and the Verdi Requiems in the Barbican Centre, London and the Mozart Requiem with The English Concert under Trevor Pinnock in Salzburg.
Christopher Purves ~ Bass
Christopher Purves received vocal instruction from David Keren and Diane Forlano. He made his solo debut at the 1988 Aix-en-Provence Festival, appearing in a Mozart program with "The Sixteen" ensemble under the direction of Harry Christophers. He has appeared as soloist in numerous operas (including works by Mozart and Monteverdi) and major Handel oratorios. He has made an earlier appearance in Maulbronn in a production of Judas Maccabaeus. His concert engagements have taken him to major concert halls throughout the world in the company of such ensembles and conductors as The Sixteen, Philippe Herreweghe, Richard Hickox, the Gabrieli Consort Covent Garden, John Taverner and the Academy of Ancient Music.
Maulbronn Chamber Choir (Maulbronner Kammerchor)
The Maulbronn Chamber Choir was founded by its director, Jürgen Budday, in 1983 and is one of the top choirs in Germany today. In addition to learning a baroque oratorio, the ensemble compiles a sacred and secular a-cappella programme every year, its focal point being 19th and 20th century literature. First prize at the Baden Württemberg Choir Competition in 1989 and 1997, second prize at the Third German Choir Competition in Stuttgart in 1990, and a victory at the Fifth German Choir Competition in Regensburg in 1998 document the chamber choir's extraordinary musical standard. The Maulbronn Chamber Choir has received, among others, invitations to the Ettlingen Palace Festival, the chamber music series of the Dresden Philharmonic, the cloister concerts at the Walkenried convent, the First International Festival of Sacred Music in Rottenburg, and the European Music Festival in Passau. The choir has also made a name for itself internationally. The 1983 debut tour through the USA with concerts in, among others, New York and Indianapolis, and the participation in the Festival of Music in New Harmony, Indiana, as well as concert tours through numerous European countries, Israel, Argentina (1993 and 1997), South Africa, and Namibia (2001) were all greeted with similar enthusiasm by the public and critics alike. The third tour through South America followed in autumn 2003 with concerts in Argentina and Uruguay.
Musica Florea Prague (on period instruments)
The Musica Florea ensemble was established in 1992 by a group of young professionals who united their common interest in the study and authentic performance of Baroque music on period instruments. The ensemble very soon achieved their first major successes under the guidance of violoncellist and conductor Marek tryncl. The first of these included a performance of Missa Sanctissimae Trinitatis by Jan Dismas Zelenka at the Prague Spring International Music Festival in 1995. They were also presented with the highest award for their very first CD recording of the same Mass in the prestigious French music magazine Diapason in April of that year. The ensemble was subsequently invited to perform at several of the most important festivals in the Czech Republic including Prague Spring 1995, St. Wenceslas Festival 1995, Ceský Krumlov International Music Festival 1996, Festival Concentus Moraviae 1996, 1997 (2000), The Strings of Autumn Festival 1996, 1997, 1998, Musica Ecumenica 1998, and regularly to the Valtice Castle Baroque Summer. The ensemble has also performed at numerous foreign music festivals including Stary Sacz in Poland; Tours, Alencon, Le Mans, and Flers in France; Pro Musica Antiqua Bremen 1997 in Germany; the Central European Festival of Concert Art 1998 and Musica Nobilis 1998 in Slovakia; the 1998 Breice Early Music Festival in Slovenia; the 1998 French Institute Early Music Festival and the 1999 Sopron Early Music Days in Hungary; and Europalia 98 in Belgium. Commissioned by several international festivals for the 1997/98 season, they performed various larger works: J. S. Bach's Magnificat (BWV 243) at the Festival Concentus Moraviae 1997, M. A. Charpentier's Te Deum at the Valtice Festival 1997, and Henry Purcell's The History of Diocletian with the Ensemble Philidor and Les Musiciens du Paradis in France. In September 1998, Musica Florea invited the Slovakian Baroque music orchestra Musica Aeterna and the French Ensemble Philidor to perform a celebration concert together as a large 18th-century Baroque orchestra to present the major orchestra works by J. D. Zelenka at the opening concert of The Strings of Autumn 98 Festival in the Spanish Hall of Prague Castle. December 1998 was devoted to a broad presentation of Czech Republic culture in the very center of Europe, Brussels, where Musica Florea performed at the prestigious Europalia 98 Festival with great success. Mr. Hadelin Donnet, General Music Program Director of Europalia 98 for Czech Radio 3, Vltava, observed,
it was a very challenging pleasure to hear that in the Czech Republic Baroque music is performed on such a high standard, comparable with all the top ensembles of Europe. Listening to the Missa Sanctissimae Trinitatis of Czech Jan Dismas Zelenka performed by Musica Florea was unforgettable musical experience completing the musical program of Europalia 98. In 1994, Musica Florea began a series of unique recording sessions for Studio Matou of works by P. J. Vejvanovsky, J. H. Schmelzer, H. I. F. Biber, Ph. J. Rittler, and other composers from the Kromeriz archives. Musica Florea's magnificent performances with Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Koená earned the ensemble their latest recording success, accompanying arias taken from cantatas and oratorios by J. S. Bach. The recording of these, published under the Archiv Production label of the world-renowned Polygram-Deutsche Grammophon company, won the Golden Harmony Award for best Czech CD recording of 1997. Great success at Slovenia's 1998 Breice Early Music Festival opened further commissioned cooperation with Slovene Radio Broadcasting in 1999. During the 1999/2000 season, the ensemble performed the music for the Baroque opera Castor et Pollux by J. Ph. Rameau at the Estates Theater of the National Theater Opera in Prague. This was the first performance of a Baroque opera in the modern history of Czech music realized in the period style on period instruments and with period ballet sections, costumes, and scenery, and lighting. During the following two seasons, the ensemble enjoyed some very interesting tours abroad. As a part of the unique Bach 2000 project of the Melbourne International Festival of Arts, Musica Florea along with fifteen other outstanding ensembles of the world performed almost all the cantatas, Masses, and oratorios of J. S. Bach. Later they also toured Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Hungary. For Prague's City of Culture 2000 program, the ensemble prepared a unique historical scenic performance of the coronation oratorio Sub Olea Pacis et Palma Virtutis by J. D. Zelenka, which also opened the Europa Musicale festivals in Germany and the Czech Republic; further special performances of the oratorio were booked for Hungary, Poland, and other venues in Germany. Presenting a broad palette of Baroque music programs reflecting the works of Central European masters of the époque, the ensemble also toured Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Hungary. For the 2000/2001 season, Musica Florea prepared new recording sessions for the Supraphon Recording Company (Czech Republic) and Pure Classics (Germany,) as well as a special live recording for the European Broadcasting Union in March 2000 with Magdalena Koená. In 1997 Czech TV filmed a documentary about the ensemble, Who is Marek tryncl and Musica Florea?, and in 1998 they performed in a documentary dedicated to P. J. Vejvanovský and in the artistic documentary The Last Day in Bohemia about J. Haydn. The ensemble appears live on Czech television and radio as well, and the members of Musica Florea are much sought-after as guest performers at concerts both in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Jürgen Budday ~ Conductor
Jürgen Budday is director of church music and artistic director of the concert series at the monastery of Maulbronn, of the cantor choir and of the Maulbronn Chamber Choir. He studied music education, church music and musicology at the Academy of Music in Stuttgart and, since 1979, has taught at the Evangelic Theology Seminar in Maulbronn. For his teaching and artistic activity, he has received many awards, including the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande (German Cross of Merit) and the Bruno-Frey Prize from the State Academy, Ochsenhausen. Since 2002, Jürgen Budday has also held the chair of the choral committee of the German Music Council. Several concert recordings have been made under his artistic direction. They have often received international recognition and high praise from critics. These have included the Handel oratorios Jephtha, Samson, Judas Maccabaeus and Saul with Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Nancy Argenta and Stephen Varcoe.