Galàn is a young and energetic ensemble, involving three sopranos, harpsichord and theorbo. It specialise in Italian Renaissance chamber music, creating programmes of soprano trios interspersed with duets and solo works by composers such as Grandi, Luzzaschi, Mazzoschi and Monteverdi.
Their desire to form a soprano trio was sparked by a collective enthusiasm for music written in the Italian court of the late sixteenth century. Duke Alfonso II of Ferrara frequently held private musical soirees, known as musica secreta, where highly talented amateur courtiers would perform. This soon evolved into an ensemble of all-female musicians, which the Duke formally named le concerte delle donne in 1580. The ladies were renowned far and wide for their technical and virtuosic skill, and performed privately for the court inner circles and more publically at court occasions. Such performances projected a powerful court image of culture and affluence, while their florid and highly ornamented signature style of singing brought prestige to the court of Ferrara and inspired contemporary composers to write music for them.
Not only did this have a significant impact on the development of Western secular music, helping to shape and inform the coming madrigals and “sprezzattura” style, but these women also helped to bring about huge changes in the role of women in music and professional performance. By the early 1600s, it was entirely feasible for a woman to have a professional career in music, independent of her male guardian, and many positions appeared for professional female performers, as well as a new fount of music for them to perform. Later, groups were set up in imitation, such as Caccini’s ensemble at the Medici court.
Inspired by this groundbreaking group, Galàn is also commissioning modern compositions that exploit the vibrant sound of these ancient instruments and incorporate more modern and digital techniques to bring a new and entirely unique genre of music to the stage. Our aim is to create programmes which therefore span both the ancient and modern musical worlds. By reviving both popular and lesser known Renaissance repertoire alongside promoting and supporting new and innovative musical endeavours, we like to think that can continue to develop the traditions that were established over four hundred years ago.
Coached by John Elliot Gardiner, Emma Kirkby and Robert Hollingworth, the group have recently made their first recording at The Royal Academy of Music in London.
Galàn’s sopranos are Alison Hill, Katy Hill and Lucy Page who have performed regularly for the past five years with groups such as the Monteverdi Choir, The Sixteen, Polyphony, the King’s Consort and the Gabrieli Consort. Each singer has a distinguished solo career performing in venues including Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, London’s Festival Hall, St John’s Smith Square, the Royal Albert Hall and the Wigmore Hall.
Harpsichordist Christopher Bucknall and theorbist Manuel Minguillon are both active and integral players in the international early music scene.
Alison Hill Soprano
Alison Hill began singing as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral. In 2006 she graduated from Trinity College in Cambridge and has since performed, recorded and toured extensively with ensembles such as The Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Eliot Gardener, Polyphony under Steven Layton, The Sixteen for Harry Christophers, Alamire for David Skinner, Tenebrae for Nigel Short, Retrospect Ensemble for Matthew Halls and Stile Antico. Ali’s solo career includes Faure’s Requiem with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Monteverdi’s Vespers in Winchester Cathedral, Mozart’s Requiem in St Martin’s in the Field, Handel’s Messiah at St John’s Smith Square and Salisbury Cathedral, Cambridge Early Music Festival with The Parley of Instruments and more unusually, as the female soloist for the Irish show, Riverdance, in arenas across Europe and America. In 2010 Ali made her solo debut at The Wigmore Hall and has toured extensively with Sir John Eliot Gardener and The Monteverdi Choir performing and recording as a soloist in venues such as The Royal Festival Hall and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Over the 2012 Olympics, Ali was lucky enough to be a soloist in the “Welcome songs” for I Fagiolini under Robert Hollingworth, in collaboration with the celebrated folk artist, Eliza McCarthy. Alongside singing, Ali enormously enjoys her work as a musical assistant on courses for The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Ulster Youth Choir and Royal Schools of Church Music and she is involved in teaching choir directors and working with children in disadvantaged areas of Mumbai in India for the burgeoning charity, Songbound. When she is not singing, Ali enjoys climbing rock faces and is doing a part-time masters degree in climate change.
Katy Hill Soprano
Katy began to take singing seriously during her time as a choral scholar at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where she read music before graduating in 2005. She subsequently embarked on a varied singing career, which has so far lead her to perform as a soloist and choir member for concerts, radio broadcasts and CD recordings under conductors including Harry Christophers, Richard Hickox, Gustav Leonhardt, David Hill, Bernard Haitink and Sir Neville Mariner. During recent years her work as a consort singer has taken her round the UK as well as much of Europe and America with The Sixteen, The Monteverdi Choir, The Gabrieli Consort, The Academy of Ancient Music, Polyphony, Tenebrae and Enchanted Voices. Her stage experience includes chorus work in the René Jacobs/Trisha Brown production of Monteverdi’s L’Orpheo in the Aix-en-Provence festival, and the Sir John Elliot Gardiner/Adrian Noble production of Bizet’s Carmen in the Opera Comique, Paris. Recent appearances as a soloist include Schutz’ Musikalische Exequien for Sir John Eliot Gardiner with The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists throughout Spain, London and in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, Monteverdi’s Vespers at the Endellion Easter Festival, Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Winchester Cathedral and his St John Passion in Guildford with The Hanover Band, Howells’ Sir Patrick Spens with The Bach Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the Festival Hall, Handel’s Messiah with the Waynflete singers and London Baroque, and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 with Synergy Vocals and Steve Reich.
Lucy Page Soprano
Lucy Page was a music scholar at New College, Oxford. Over the last year she has performed as a soloist with the Bach Choir for Prince Charles’ carol concert in St James’ Palace, given a private recital for the Mayoral fund of Hammersmith and Fulham and appeared with the Prince Consort in the Oxford Lieder Festival. Other recent highlights include Handel Messiah solos with the Rare Theatrical and singing with La Nuova Musica in London and Aldborough. Lucy has put on a number of her own recitals, both in London and Oxford, with programmes including works by Brahms, Poulenc, Strauss, Schumann, Bach and Copland. As an oratorio soloist, concerts include Bach St Matthew Passion, Handel Israel in Egypt, Brahms Requiem and Rautavaara Songs of our time. Lucy sings with a number of groups and ensembles, including the Monteverdi Choir, with whom she won an apprenticeship in 2007, touring and also performing as a soloist within the group. Opera credits include La Poppea in Spittalfields and two world premieres in Oxford, the Birds and David and Goliath. Lucy is also a member of ‘Enchanted Voices’, most recently appearing at the Royal Albert Hall for Classic FM Live.
Manuel Minguillón Lutenist
Manuel Minguillón was born in Madrid, Spain, where he obtained a double bachelor degree in guitar performance and early plucked instruments. Minguillón perfected his skills under the guidance of master lutenist Hopkinson Smith in Basel, Switzerland. Afterwards, he completed a Master’s Degree and Doctorate in Early Plucked Instruments with the world renowned lutenist Paul O’Dette at the Eastman School of Music, In New York.
Minguillón has performed as both soloist and ensemble player in many countries including Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Poland, Portugal, Canada, Mexico, USA and United Kingdom, having appeared in several Festivals and Concert Halls in these countries. He is a founder of Ensemble Tarantella and the vihuela Duo Delitiae Musicae with Jesús Sanchez which he plays throughout Europe and North America and has been broadcasted by RNE of Spain, BBC of UK, RTP of Portugal and Radio France. Manuel currently lives and works in London, United Kingdom, where he collaborates with various ensembles such us Gabrieli Consort & Players, Charivari Agreable, Saraband Consort, The Rare Theatrical, Armonico Consort, The Little Baroque Company, amongst others. In November 2008 Manuel had his debut at the Teatro Real de Madrid, performing Handel’s “Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno” conducted by Paul McCreesh. He is also a member of the multidisciplinary research group The Hispanic Baroque where he is currently researching about the baroque Tonos Humanos in Spain.
Christopher Bucknall Harpsichord
Christopher Bucknall began his musical career as a chorister of Wells Cathedral and then as Organ Scholar of Downside Abbey. Having spent a year as organ scholar of Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire, he furthered his studies at Lincoln College, Oxford on an organ scholarship where he was responsible for directing the Chapel music. Chris has recently completed postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music studying harpsichord and fortepiano with Carole Cerasi and conducting with Paul Brough.
As a harpsichordist, Chris has worked with some of the finest interpreters of this repertoire including William Christie, Trevor Pinnock, Massako Suzuki, Harry Bicket, Christian Curnyn and Laurence Cummings. Future engagements include a project with Sir John Eliot Gardner in October and acting as Assistant Conductor on two major opera productions in 2009 – Handel, Alessandro and Cavalli, Eliogabalo. Chris is building up a portfolio of conducting engagements, having conducted Handel, Messiah and Acis and Galatea, Bach St John Passion with Concerto Carissimi, Alessandro Scarlatti’s opera, Marco Attelio Regolo and Hasse’s Siroe with Ensemble Serse and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
He is the artistic director of The Rare Theatricall, an ensemble devoted to historically informed and interpretationally rich performances of English seventeenth century vocal and string music. The Rare Theatricall has recently been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Chamber Music Fellowship at the Royal Academy of Music for 2008/09. Chris teaches piano and organ at Eton College and conducts the choirs at The Menuhin School.