Theatre of the Ayre
Theatre of the Ayre is Elizabeth Kenny's platform for bringing dramatically-minded singers and players together to create inspirational programmes of seventeenth century music. They have performed in and broadcast from major Festivals across the UK, Belgium and Germany. Always looking for innovative ways of presenting theatrical music, they created bespoke choruses of schoolchildren as Cupids during a tour of John Blow's Venus and Adonis, a live recording of which was released on the Wigmore Live label in January 2011. They followed this with performances of Charpentier's Actéon, as well as several smaller-scale projects (Ayres and Dialogues, Dowland; Anniversary Collection and Setting the Baa High: English pastoral) which toured in 2013-14. Their performances relish the shift from sublime tragedy to knockabout comedy that is ever-present in seventeenth-century music.
Lutes&Ukes, Theatre of the Ayre's groundbreaking collaboration with members of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, has become known to audiences including and beyond the classical, as a ‘genre-crashing supergroup' following tours in 2013 and 2015, the first of which saw them develop an education project involving nearly 400 ukulele-wielding children across London and York. Inspired by the achievements of the 'Lutes and Voices', they developed The Masque of Moments in 2015, highlighting the glories of little-known vocal music from the Jacobean and Caroline masque. Theatre of the Ayre were supported in 2015 by a major award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In 2016 they branched out into new music, as the judges of the National Centre for Early Music's Young Composers' Award, performing new settings of Shakespeare and Carol-Anne Duffy for voices and lute.
'Theatre of the Ayre likes to do things differently... Its weapons: a freshness of approach and a quasi-improvisatory freedom of delivery.' Financial Times
'It's not often you witness a player attacking their instrument with a bottleneck while another strokes theirs with a quill... both created sublime musical expressions of melancholy.' The Guardian
'Theatre of the Ayre, compellingly dramatizing the French Baroque in vocal and instrumental prowess.' The Times
'A crack-squad of top instrumentalists.' Gramophone
'The English lutenist Elizabeth Kenny devises unusual programs with her group Theatre of the Ayre, and this is one of the best.'more >>Gramophone
'...this composite masque now belatedly arrives on disc, and it's all the better for having matured in the barrel for a decade. Kenny has assembled a crack team.'more >>La Recensione
'Questi spettacoli erano vere e proprie feste...'more >>BR Klassik
CD Pick: ,,An der CD erfreut die Buntheit und Farbenpracht der Stücke.''more >>BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'
Disc of the Week: 'It had me under its spell almost immediately...'more >>Leicester Mercury
'Delightfully arcane instruments provide the exquisite instrumental backdrop for a recital which blends passages of courtly elegance with the much more earthy delights...'more >>The Observer
'...there are exquisite sounds from Kenny's plucked-instrument ensemble...with nicely refined singing.'more >>