Tekla Cunningham, baroque violin, viola and viola d'amore, leads an active and varied musical life. At home in Seattle, she is Orchestra Director and concertmaster of Pacific MusicWorks, and is an artist-in-residence at the University of Washington. She founded and directs the Whidbey Island Music Festival, now entering its twelfth season, producing and presenting vibrant period-instrument performances of repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to Stephen Foster, and plays regularly as concertmaster and principal player with the American Bach Soloists in California. Her concert performances have earned glowing praise from reviewers and have been described as "ravishingly beautiful" and "stellar". She has appeared as concertmaster/leader or soloist with the American Bach Soloists, Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Musica Angelica (Los Angeles) and Pacific Baroque Orchestra and has played with Apollo’s Fire, Los Angeles Opera, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and at the Berkeley, Carmel Bach, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Indianapolis, Oregon Bach, Vancouver Bach, Savannah, Bloomington Festivals and Valley of the Moon festivals. 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. Tekla plays on a violin made by Sanctus Seraphin in Venice, 1746.
Canadian-born cellist and gambist Caroline Nicolas has performed in North America, Europe, and Asia with such eminent musicians as Monica Huggett, Andrea Marcon, Elizabeth Blumenstock, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Jordi Savall, Masaaki Suzuki, William Christie, and Nicholas McGegan. As winner of Juilliard’s Historical Performance concerto competition, she made her solo debut in Alice Tully Hall, New York City. She has performed with Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Mercury Baroque Orchestra, Ars Lyrica, Juilliard Baroque, Kammerorchester Basel and Sinfonieorchester Liechtenstein. Nicolas grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and was first introduced to the cello by her mother, an elementary school music teacher. At the age of fifteen she made her orchestral debut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She studied with Phoebe Carrai at The Juilliard School and Christophe Coin and Paolo Pandolfo at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
The American soprano Amanda Forsythe, highly praised for her performances on both sides of the Atlantic, sang Euridice on the recording of Charpentier’s La descente d'Orphée aux enfers with the Boston Early Music Festival which won the 2015 GRAMMY AWARD for Best Opera Recording. Her highly acclaimed CDs have included her début solo album of Handel arias "The Power of Love" with Apollo’s Fire on the Avie label. She recently toured with the outstanding French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, performing works based on the Orfeo myth, and subsequently recorded the role of Euridice in a new edition of Gluck’s Orfeo for the ERATO label. Equally at home on the concert platform and on the opera stage, in recent seasons Amanda Forsythe’s major engagements have included Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Boston Symphony under Andris Nelsons and the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Susanna Mälkki, Handel’s Sileti venti and Laudate pueri with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Nicholas Kraemer, Messiah with Seattle Symphony, Bach's Magnificat and concert performances as Marzelline Fidelio with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Sir Antonio Pappano. Following performances as Amour in Gluck’s Orphée at London’s Royal Opera House, she participated in tours of this work, and of Mozart's C Minor Mass and Requiem with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. She is a regular soloist with the highly acclaimed baroque ensembles Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (PBO), Apollo’s Fire, Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Pacific Musicworks, the Boston Early Music Festival, and the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra. She sang the title role of Teseo with PBO at the Tanglewood and Mostly Mozart Festivals under Nicholas McGegan, and made her début at the Oregon Bach Festival in Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Magnificat under Matthew Halls. Amanda Forsythe made her USA stage début with the Boston Early Music Festival, where her many roles have included Poppea and Drusilla L’incoronazione di Poppea, Niobe and Manto (recording) in Steffani's Niobe, regina di Tebe, Aglaure Psyché (Lully), Venus Venus and Adonis (John Blow), Pallas The Judgment of Paris (Eccles), Isabelle Le Carnaval de Venise (Campra), Serpina La serva padrona and Edilia Almira, Königin von Castilien, for which she received rave reviews. Having made her début at Seattle Opera as Iris Semele, Amanda Forsythe recently returned there to sing Pamina Die Zauberflöte. Her operatic repertoire also includes Poppea Agrippina, the title role in Partenope, Dorinda Orlando, Amenaide Tancredi, Bastienne Bastien und Bastienne, Ninfa/Proserpina Orfeo, Amore Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Oberto Alcina, Dafne Apollo e Dafne, Atalanta Xerxes, Vagaus Juditha Triumphans and roles in Les Indes Galantes and The Fairy Queen. She made her European operatic début in the role of Corinna Il viaggio a Reims at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, subsequently returning to perform Rosalia L’equivoco stravagante, and Jemmy Guillaume Tell, described by one critic as “…the best singing of this crucial part I’ve ever encountered...”. At her invitation, Amanda Forsythe joined the distinguished American mezzo soprano Joyce di Donato in a performance of Bellini duets in the festival’s ‘Malibran’ recital. Major European opera house engagements have included Dalinda Ariodante in Geneva and Munich and Barbarina Le nozze di Figaro,Manto in Steffani’s Niobe, regina di Tebe, Amour in Gluck’s Orphée and Nannetta Falstaff at London’s Royal Opera House. Her performance as Nannetta was described by Gramophone Magazine as “meltingly beautiful”. Major engagements in 2018 include her return to the Chicago Symphony to sing Schubert's Mass No 6 in E Flat under Riccardo Muti and Messiah under Matthew Halls, Alexander’s Feast with Tafelmusik, Iole Hercules with the Handel and Haydn Society and performances with Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Musicworks, the Kymi Sinfonietta, and Charlotte Symphony. Forthcoming opera engagements include her début at the Rome Opera as Pamina, and Steffani's Orlando Furioso (Angelica) at the 2019 Boston Early Music Festival. Amanda Forsythe’s recordings include Venus Venus and Adonis, Aglaure in Lully’s Psyché, and La Grande Pretresse in Lully’s Thésée with the Boston Early Music Festival (all for CPO), Manto in Steffani's Niobe with BEMF (Erato), the title role in Handel’s Teseo with Philharmonia Baroque (PBO’s own label), Bach's St. John Passion and Messiah with Apollo’s Fire (Avie), Dorinda Handel’s Orlando with Early Music Vancouver (ATMA) and Haydn’s Creation with Boston Baroque (Linn). She also sings on the DVD recordings of the Pesaro productions of L'equivoco stravagante and Guillaume Tell as well as Manto in the Royal Opera production of Steffani’s Niobe (Opus Arte). Her latest CD of Steffani duets with the Boston Early Music Festival was awarded the Diapason d'Or in January 2018.
Aaron Grad (b. 1980) merges his rock and jazz roots with his classical training to create music that The Washington Post has described as “inventive and notably attractive.” He majored in jazz guitar at New York University, and for his master’s degree at the Peabody Conservatory he studied composition with Christopher Theofanidis. While a student, Aaron won awards from the ASCAP Foundation in both their classical and jazz competitions. Recent commissions include arrangements for the North Carolina Symphony featuring vocalist Rhiannon Giddens, as well as Strange Seasons, a concerto for the Seattle Baroque Orchestra that pays tribute to Aaron’s adopted home city of Seattle. As a performer, his greatest joy is playing the electric theorbo that he designed and built himself, as heard in Old-Fashioned Love Songs, a song cycle with countertenor. Aaron also channels his enthusiasm for communicating with audiences into the program notes he writes for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, Seattle Symphony and many other ensembles. With funding from 4Culture, he is currently developing Leading Tones, a lecture series and book that explores the intersection of chamber music and social and emotional development.
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, and The Live Oak Baroque Orchestra. He has also played with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Charlotte Symphony, Seraphic Fire, and Boston Revels, among others. He has taught master classes and workshops on historical repertoire and performance practice at the University of Edinburgh and at colleges and universities across the USA. An avid composer of sacred music for choir and organ, his works are published by Paraclete Press, Carus-Verlag Stuttgart, and CanticaNOVA. He is the founder and director of the Pacific MusicWorks Underground Concerts (formerly Early Music Underground), which brings old music to new audiences in brewpubs, wineries, and fun unconventional venues across the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Mr. Lebedinsky holds degrees from Bowdoin College and the Longy School of Music, where he studied with Peter Sykes. He currently serves as Organist and Choirmaster at Seattle’s historic Christ Episcopal Church.
Soprano Sherezade Panthaki’s international success in music of the Baroque and beyond has been fueled by superbly honed musicianship; “astonishing coloratura with radiant top notes” (Calgary Herald); “a full, luxuriously toned upper range” (The Los Angeles Times), and passionately informed interpretations, “mining deep emotion from the subtle shaping of the lines” (The New York Times). In a recent review, San Francisco critic Joshua Kosman commented, “…it becomes increasingly difficult to find words that will adequately convey the multifold splendor of her singing. It is full-bodied and rich in coloration, yet her phrases move with all the litheness and grace of a dancer. She reaches notes that other singers can only eye with envy, and does so with effortless precision. She tears through the most demanding passagework without batting an eye or missing a beat. Her diction is flawless. She’s a phenomenon, and only getting more marvelous with each passing year.” (SF Gate) An acknowledged star in the early-music field, Ms. Panthaki enjoys ongoing collaborations with many of the world’s leading interpreters including Nicholas McGegan, Masaaki Suzuki, Mark Morris, Nicholas Kraemer, Matthew Halls, Paul Agnew, and Lawrence Cummings. This season marks return appearances with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, The Boston Early Music Festival, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Music of the Baroque (Chicago), as well as debuts with NDR Radiophilharmonie (Hannover, Germany), the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Musica Angelica (Los Angeles), The Caramoor Music Room Concert series, and several others. Firmly at home in the numerous Baroque oratorios, operas, and cantatas of Handel, Bach, Vivaldi, Purcell, and Monteverdi, Ms. Panthaki is no stranger to 19th, 20th and 21st century concert repertoire. She has received wide acclaim for her interpretations of Brahms’ Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Poulenc’s Gloria; notable among her new music premieres is the soprano role of Emily Dickinson in Martin Bresnick’s brand new oratorio Passions of Bloom at Yale University and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Past seasons have included performances of Vivaldi with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl as well as with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; tours across Japan of Handel’s Messiah with Bach Collegium Japan, the National Symphony Orchestra, Boston Baroque, National Arts Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, Calgary Philharmonic, Nashville, Kansas City, Colorado and San Antonio Symphonies; a US tour of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Bach Collegium Japan; Handel’s Atalanta, Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, Joseph and his Brethren, and “Italian Baroque Music from the Jewish Ghetto” with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra; the title role in the Boston Early Music Festival’s concert performances of Handel’s Almira; the role of Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Handel’s L’allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato and the title role of Galatea in the Mark Morris Dance Group’s premiere performances of Handel’s Acis and Galatea; Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Magnificat at the Oregon Bach Festival; a fully staged production of Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Vivaldi solo works with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at New York Central Park’s outdoor Naumberg Orchestral Concert Series; Mozart’s Grand Mass in C minor with the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Haydn’s opera L’isola disabitata with the American Classical Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Orlando Philharmonic and American Classical Orchestra, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion with John Scott and the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys; Handel’s Solomon with the Radio Kamer Filharmonie (Holland); Scarlatti and Hasse cantatas with Ars Lyrica Houston, Handel’s Saul with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto; Brahms’ Requiem with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; Handel’s La Resurrezione at the Morgan Library in New York City; Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Houston Symphony and the Orlando Ballet, John Tavener’s The Last Discourse with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Rachmaninoff and and Strauss songs at the Bari International Music Festival, and Britten’s War Requiem with the Louisville Choral Arts Society. An active and passionate music educator, Ms. Panthaki is frequently called upon to present vocal masterclasses at Universities and Arts Schools across the United States; most recently to students from Houston Grand Opera, Rice University’s Moore School of Music, the University of Texas School of Music, Rollins College, and the Governor’s School for the Arts at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She served as the Christoph Wolff Visiting Performer at the Harvard University Department of Music where she gave masterclasses and performances in collaboration with Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Ms. Panthaki has served as Vocal Coach for the Yale Baroque Opera Project, and currently teaches voice lessons to scholarship winners of the top undergraduate and graduate choral ensembles at Yale University. Born and raised in India, Ms. Panthaki began her musical education at an early age. Following intensive study and earning national distinction as a young pianist, she turned to singing and found a more personal and expressive means to connect with audiences. She holds an Artist Diploma with top honors from the Yale School of Music and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, where she was the winner of multiple awards of distinction including the prestigious Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize. She earned a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois, and a Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Corentin Pokorny (baroque violin) has been a member of many chamber ensembles, including the Daana String Quartet, the SCREE! Ensemble, and the Rocoempo Trio with his two brothers. He has also played with Pacific MusicWorks, among other orchestras. He was born and raised in France, where he studied violin from a young age. After moving to the United States in 2008, He eagerly joined Seattle’s music scene. Corentin received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Washington in 2016. In addition to his Seattle engagements, he is also a part of New York’s Lincoln Center Stage concert series.
Romaric Pokorny, viola, is an avid chamber music player. Based out of Seattle, he has been a member in several chamber music ensembles in the Puget Sound area, most notably the Oceana String Quartet, SCREE! String Quintet, and especially the Rocoempo Trio, alongside his brothers. He also enjoys performing with Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, SeattleMusic, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and various other ensembles. A native of France, he received his early musical training there, studying violin, piano, composition and music theory at the Conservatoire a Rayonnement Regional de Boulogne-Billancourt and later at the Conservatoire d'Aulnay-sous-Bois under violinist Jose Alvarez, and earning a Diplome Superieur de Solfege. After moving to the United States, he finished his studies with a degree in Viola Performance from the University of Washington. His interests also grew to include some experience in pipe organ building and restoration, working for an organ supply and restoration company for several years, and is currently working with The Harpsichord Shop. His other current music interests include genre-crossing musical exploration (with the Rocoempo Trio) and the promotion of classical and early music performances to include a broader audience, with Pacific MusicWorks Underground.
Stephen Stubbs, who won the GRAMMY Award as conductor for Best Opera Recording 2015, spent a 30-year career in Europe. He returned to his native Seattle in 2006 as one of the world’s most respected lutenists, conductors, and baroque opera specialists and in 2014 was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award for ‘Raising the Bar’ in Seattle. Before his return, he was based in Bremen, Germany, where he was Professor at the Hochschule für Künste. In 2007 Stephen established his new production company, Pacific MusicWorks, based in Seattle, reflecting his lifelong interest in both early music and contemporary performance. The company’s inaugural presentation was a production of South African artist William Kentridge’s acclaimed multimedia staging of Claudio Monteverdi’s opera The Return of Ulysses in a co-production with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. PMW’s performances of the Monteverdi Vespers were described in the press as “utterly thrilling” and “of a quality you are unlikely to encounter anywhere else in the world”. Stephen is also the Boston Early Music Festival’s permanent artistic co-director along with his long time colleague Paul O’Dette. Stephen and Paul are also the musical directors of all BEMF operas, recordings of which were nominated for three GRAMMY awards, and won the GRAMMY for Best Opera Recording 2015. In addition to his ongoing commitments to PMW and BEMF, other recent appearances have included Handels’ Giulio Cesare and Gluck’s Orfeo in Bilbao, Mozart’s Magic Flute and Cosi fan Tutte for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and Handel’s Agrippina for Opera Omaha. In recent years he has conducted Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle, Edmonton, and Birmingham Symphony orchestras. Stephen will make his debut Messiah performance with Houston Symphony this December. His extensive discography as conductor and solo lutenist include well over 100 CDs, many of which have received international acclaim and awards.
Danielle Sampson, soprano, is an avid performer of baroque, classical, and contemporary music. She is known for her “youthful and light timbre” (Classical Voice North America) and “a compassionate calm and a warm, glowing tone” (Boston Globe). In 2016, Danielle appeared with the Stanford Chorale for Mozart's C Minor Mass, Black Box Baroque as Ruggiero in Handel's Alcina, and the bay area's Amaranth Quartet for a performance of new and old works for string quartet and voice, as well as contemporary pieces arranged by Danielle and members of the quartet. In June Danielle performed in the Berkeley Early Music Festival with Nash Baroque Ensemble, Liaison Baroque Ensemble, and Jarring Sounds. Most recently she performed in the St. Matthew Passion with the California Bach Choir, Bach's Magnificat with the Northwest Baroque Masterworks, and a concert of Old and New Spain with Pacific MusicWorks. Danielle has appeared with Pacific MusicWorks, the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado, the California Bach Society, Early Music Vancouver, the Boston Early Music Festival, the American Bach Soloists, the Stanford Chorale, San Francisco Bach Choir, Black Box Baroque, St. Martin's Chamber Choir, Amaranth Quartet, the Guerrilla Composers Guild, Prodigal Opera Productions, and the Alabama Symphony. She is a founding member of the duo Jarring Sounds with guitarist/theorbist/lutenist Adam Cockerham, and they released a self titled album in 2012 of music by Guédron, Boësset, Bataille, Monteverdi, Purcell, Britten, and Goss. Danielle also appears on a 2015 recording of Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the Stanford Chorale and the Lawrence String Quartet. In the summer of 2015 Danielle sang the part of the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Early Music Vancouver, who Vancouver Classical Music called “a delight, interacting with the witches in a manner born.” She performed the role of Melanto in Monteverdi’s Ulisse for the 2015 Boston Early Music Festival, which was “charmingly portrayed” (Boston Globe). In 2014 Danielle performed the soprano chorales in Boston Early Music Festival’s production of Johann Sebastiani’s Matthew Passion, in which she "displayed great range, from a meaty middle to subtle pianos in the high register..." (Classical Voice North America). In March she performed a tour of Charpentier’s La Couronne de Fleurs and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers, Handel’s Messiah with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and Bach’s Magnificat with the American Bach Soloists. Danielle earned her BM at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, and her MM at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Danielle currently resides in Seattle.
Elisabeth Reed teaches Baroque cello and viola da gamba at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is co-director of the Baroque Orchestra. Her playing has been described in the press as, “intense, graceful, suffused with heat and vigor” and “Elisabeth Reed provided the authentic Baroque sound, with her delicately nuanced and powerful playing of the Baroque cello and viola da gamba.” A member of the American Bach Soloists, Voices of Music, and Wildcat Viols, she has also appeared with the Seattle, Portland, and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestras, and at the Boston Early Music Festival, the Berkeley Early Music Festival, the Ohai Festival, the Whidbey Island Music Festival, and the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival. A graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Oberlin Conservatory, the Eastman School of Music, and Indiana University's Early Music Institute, she can be heard on the Virgin Classics, Focus, and Magnatune recording labels. She also teaches baroque cello and viola da gamba at the University of California at Berkeley. Highlights of this current season include performances of Haydn trios with Ian Swensen and Ken Slowik at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.; 17th century German chamber music with Monica Huggett in Portland, OR; French Baroque chamber with Byron Schenkman and Ingrid Matthews and the St. John Passion with Steven Stubbs and Pacific Musicworks in Seattle, WA. She is a Guild-certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of Awareness Through Movement, with a focus on working with musicians and performers.
Nathan Whittaker, violoncello, enjoys a unique and diverse career as a concert soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, teacher, and historical cello specialist with concert stops ranging from Seattle to New York to Dubai. He is the Artistic Director of Gallery Concerts (Seattle), a concert series of chamber music on period instruments, and regularly performs with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Rosa Barocca, Byron Schenkman and Friends, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Recent appearances include the Oregon Bach Festival, Indianapolis Early Music Festival, Vancouver Bach Festival, Pacific Baroque Festival, American Handel Festival, Pacific MusicWorks, 45th Parallel, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, and the Berkeley Early Music Festival. An active pedagogue, he has served on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts and runs a dynamic private studio. He can be heard on recordings by ATMA Musique, Harmonia, and Centaur, as well as live broadcasts by NPR, CBC, and KING FM. Dr. Whittaker holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Washington and Bachelors and Masters degrees from Indiana University. He performs on a cello of Mario Gadda from 1957, and a baroque cello of Johann Christian Ficker II from c. 1770.