Cheryl Bensman Rowe, Co-Artistic Director
Kristina Boerger, All Festival Conductor, voice (soprano)
Dr. Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett, voice (soprano)
Kelly Landerkin, voice (soprano)
Christa Patton, Baroque Opera Workshop
Chelsie Propst, beginning voice
Paul Rowe, Co-Artistic Director, voice (baritone)
Jordan Sramek, voice (tenor)
Tom Zajac, All Festival Concert Director, instrumental and voice classes
Brandi Berry, Renaissance & Baroque violin
Sarah Lodico, beginning viola da gamba
Anna Steinhoff, viola da gamba and baroque cello
Ginna Watson, vielle, rebec, and violin
Winds & Brass
Priscilla Herreid, recorder and Intermediate Loud Band
Greg Ingles, sackbut
Joan Kimball, bagpipes and recorder
Daphna Mor, recorder
Robert Wiemken, Advanced Loud Band Intensive
Charles Wines, beginning recorder
Keyboard & Continuo
Emily Jane Katayama, harpsichord
Christa Patton, continuo and harp
John Chappell Stowe, harpsichord and organ
Charles Weaver, lute
Musicology, History & Culture
J. Michael Allsen, musicology
John W. Barker, history
Michael Kuharski, Balkan dance
Nina Stern, recorder
Michael Kuharski, dance
Kristina Boerger, All Festival Conducor, voice (soprano)
Chiwei Hui, Assistant Conductor, All Festival Concert
Tom Zajac, All Festival Conductor and Director
Grammy award winner Cheryl Bensman-Rowe, soprano; MEMF Artistic Director, is known to both early and new music audiences in this country and abroad. A former member of the Waverly Consort and Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, she has also performed with King’s Noyse, the Folger Consort, The Smithsonian Chamber Ensemble and Pomerium Musices. Orchestral engagements include the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Israel Phiharmonic, and the St. Louis Symphony. Appearances include concerts at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Aspen Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Ravinia, Casals, Mostly Mozart, Wiener Festwochen, and Holland Festival.
Kristina Boerger, soprano, holds a doctorate in Choral Conducting and Literature from the University of Illinois. A New Yorker during most of the last decade, Dr. Boerger served 9 seasons as Artistic Director of the Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble, 3 seasons as Music Director of AMUSE, and 2 seasons as Associate Conductor of the Collegiate Chorale. As a guest director she has served the Syracuse Schola Cantorum, the Kalamazoo Bach Festival, the Five Colleges Consortium, and Chanticleer. In addition to many years with Western Wind, other credits include projects with Early Music New York, the choir at Trinity Church Wall Street, Bobby McFerrin, and the Rose Ensemble.
Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett, soprano, holds a piano diploma and a doctorate in musicology from the University in Poznań. Her voice studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland resulted in Medieval/Renaissance Diploma in 2001 & MAS in Vocal Ensemble Music in 2011. She’s the founder and artistic director of the ensemble Peregrina specializing in medieval music and respected for their scholarship and vocal performance. Dr. Budzińska-Bennett teaches Gregorian chant and music history at the Musikhochschule Trossingen in Germany, her pedagogical and academic work also includes lectures, articles, books and master classes in early singing.
After completing her musical studies in Vocal Performance, Music Theory and Performance Practice in Hawaii and Indiana (Bloomington), Swiss-American soprano Kelly Landerkin came to Switzerland as a Fulbright scholar to continue her training in early music. As a soloist as well as in ensembles, Kelly specializes in early and contemporary music, and has appeared at festivals across Europe and the USA. Her recordings with ensembles such as Peregrina, Pro Arte Singers and Les Flamboyants have received critical acclaim. She taught voice at the Winterthur Conservatory and at the Zurich University of the Arts and currently teaches Gregorian chant at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
Christa Patton, Director of Baroque Opera Workshop, has toured the Americas, Europe and Japan with New York’s Ensemble for Early Music, and Piffaro. As a baroque harpist Christa has appeared Apollo’s Fire, King’s Noyse, The Toronto Consort, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Folger Consort, and Parthenia. In baroque opera productions she has appeared with New York City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Tafelmusik, and Opera Atelier. She is co-director of the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College and has taught at Amherst Early Music Festival, Pinewoods, and MEMF. A former Fulbright scholar, Christa studied the Italian baroque harp at Civica Scuola di Musica in Milan, Italy. She received her DMA at SUNY Stony Brook.
Chelsie Propst, soprano, has performed with Madison-based ensembles Clocks in Motion, Isthmus Chamber Ensemble, Eliza’s Toyes, and Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, and has performed several opera roles, including Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Belinda in Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas. She was a finalist in Wisconsin Public Radio’s 2012 Neale-Silva Young Artists’ Competition and UW-Madison’s 2013 Concerto Competition. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Musicology at UW-Madison, and earned a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from UW-Madison and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sacred Music and Voice Performance from Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina.
Paul Rowe, baritone; MEMF Artistic Director, is Professor of Voice at the University of Wisconsin Madison. He has performed with many of the leading American musical organizations including the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston and Carnegie Hall in New York, American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera and Kennedy Center, and Musica Sacra at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall. He has appeared with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Smithsonian Chamber Players, the Alabama and Arkansas symphony orchestras, the Folger Consort, and the Ensemble for Early Music, among many other groups. As a member of the Waverly Consort, Mr. Rowe toured the United States, the Far East and South America and participated in the Consort's regular series at Alice Tully Hall and the Cloisters in New York. In addition, he performed for 2 years as a member of the New York Vocal Arts Ensemble, touring the U.S. and Yugoslavia.
Jordan Sramek, tenor, is Founder/Artistic Director of The Rose Ensemble and enjoys an active career as a performing musician, scholar, teacher, and arts entrepreneur. Jordan studied early vocal performance and harpsichord at the College of St. Scholastica and has studied with early-music experts such as Benjamin Bagby, Eric Mentzel, Dom. Daniel Saulnier, Margriet Tindemans and Crawford Young. He is highly respected for his meticulous research of music rarely heard in the concert hall and has championed vocal repertoire from Renaissance Poland, Bohemia and Sweden, as well as Baroque Mexico and 19th-century Hawaii. Jordan has led workshops and master-classes at universities and festivals across the U.S.
Tom Zajac, All Festival Concert Director, instrumental and voice classes. (for bio, see Conductors)
Brandi Berry, violin, serves on the faculty of DePaul University as co-director of the Baroque Ensembles program and is artistic director of the Bach & Beethoven Ensemble. She has appeared with numerous ensembles, including Kings Noyse, Apollo's Fire, and Newberry Consort, and as soloist/concertmaster of Ars Antigua, Bloomington Early Music Festival Opera Orchestra, and St. Louis's Kingsbury Ensemble. Ms. Berry has also performed on concert series throughout North America, including the Library of Congress, the Dame Myra Hess series, the CMC Handel Festival in Toronto, Early Music Now, Chicago's Classical Music Mondays, and the Academy of Early Music in Ann Arbor.
Sarah Lodico, viola da gamba is a student of Wendy Gillespie completing her Master of Music in Viola da gamba Performance at the Historical Performance Institute of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She has diverse musical interests and avidly plays vielle, violas da gamba and early cello. Sarah recently participated in recording projects with IU’s Concentus for Public Radio International performing the works of South American early Baroque composers.
Based out of Chicago, Anna Steinhoff is an active performer with ensembles across the Midwest. Anna specializes in the baroque cello and viola da gamba. She is the principal cellist of Chicago’s period instrument orchestra, Baroque Band, and has performed with Haymarket Opera Company, Newberry Consort, Second City Musick, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Opera Theater, and Madison Bach Musicians. She is also a founding member of Wayward Sisters, who won first prize in the 2011 Early Music America competition. Wayward Sisters released their debut album of music by Matthew Locke on Naxos.
Ginna Watson, rebec; vielle; violin, is a Minneapolis-based violinist and early music specialist. She performs with The Rose Ensemble and the Lyra Baroque Orchestra. She has appeared at the Boston, Indianapolis, and San Antonio early music festivals. Internationally, Ginna has performed in the Tage Alte Musik early music festival in Regensburg, Germany, and the Los Siglos de Oro early music series in Madrid, Spain, as well as festivals in Italy and France.
Winds & Brass
Priscilla Herreid, historical winds, is a member of Piffaro and can also be heard playing all manner of early wind instruments with Hesperus, the Waverly Consort, and Ex Umbris. She has played early oboes and recorder with many of the nation's leading baroque orchestras, including Trinity Baroque Orchestra (NYC), The Handel & Haydn Society, Philharmonia Baroque, Portland Baroque, and Tempesta di Mare. She was part of the onstage band for the Globe Theatre's productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III on Broadway and is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Temple University.
Greg Ingles, sackbut, attended high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy and went on to graduate from the Oberlin Conservatory. He completed both a Master’s and Doctoral degree in trombone performance at SUNY Stony Brook. A member of Piffaro, he has also played with such ensembles as the American Bach Soloists, Chatham Baroque, Concerto Palatino, Quicksilver, and Tafelmusik. He is Music Director of the Dark Horse Consort, an ensemble devoted to rarely performed brass music of the 17th century, and is also a member of Ciaramella. The adjunct trombone professor at Hofstra University for over a decade, he is currently the Lecturer in Sackbut at Boston University.
Joan Kimball, bagpipe; historical winds, is artistic co-director and a founding member of Piffaro, The Renaissance Band. She teaches recorder and early winds to children and adults and is on the music faculty of The Philadelphia School (elementary and middle school) where she has a full roster of private recorder students and ensembles. Joan organizes Piffaro's educational programs, including the biennial recorder competition for high school students. In addition, she collaborates with instrument maker Joel Robinson of New York City on the construction of Medieval and Renaissance bagpipes and is a maker of double reeds for Renaissance shawms, dulcians, and capped winds.
Daphna Mor, recorder; ney, has performed throughout Europe and the United States as a soloist and as an ensemble player. Her appearances include solo recitals in Croatia, Germany, and Switzerland, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also performed with The New York Collegium, has been a soloist at Carnegie Hall, played with the New York Philharmonic, and Piffaro. Besides performing, she is a frequent teacher in early music workshops around the U.S., and is Musician to the Education Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ms. Mor and Nina Stern are Co-Directors of East of the River.
Bob Wiemken, historical winds; Director of Advanced Loud Band Intensive, began his musical life as a French hornist but began playing early reeds while a graduate student in Classics at the University of Pennsylvania. As Artistic Co-Director of Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, he has performed worldwide, recorded extensively, built over 100 programs of Renaissance and early Baroque music and commissioned new works for early winds and chorus. He has performed with numerous of the world’s leading early music ensembles, in festivals in North and South America and throughout Europe, and in performance spaces contemporary with the music. He teaches and lectures in college and university settings and at festivals and workshops throughout the country, bringing the world of early reeds to modern players and amateurs alike.
Woodwind specialist Charles Wines is a native of the Kansas City area and has performed extensively with the Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City, the Kansas City Baroque Consortium, and the St. Michaels Baroque Ensemble. He has performed as recorder soloist with the Kansas City Baroque Consortium and St. Michaels Baroque Ensemble. He is currently a Master of Music student at the Early Music Institute at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
Tom Zajac, historical winds (for bio, see Conductors)
Emily Jane Katayama, harpsichord, has presented harpsichord recitals for the Academy of Early Music (Ann Arbor) and the Harpsichord Clearing House’s series at the Boston Early Music Festival. She is a founding member of New Comma Baroque, appearing at the Gotham Early Music Scene’s Midtown Concerts (NYC), Academy of Early Music, Peoria Bach Festival, and the Byron Colby Barn’s Early Music Series. Ms. Katayama is Adjunct Harpsichord Faculty at Concordia University Chicago. She holds a Master of Music degree in harpsichord performance from University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music.
Christa Patton, continuo; Baroque Opera Workshop (for bio, see Voice)
John Chappell Stowe, organ; harpsichord, is Professor of Organ and Harpsichord at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. He graduated from Southern Methodist University and holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree and Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School. Since joining the faculty at UW-Madison, Dr. Stowe has held the posts of Associate Director of the School of Music (1990-93) and Director of Graduate Studies (1996-99, 2005-06). From 1998 to 2004, he served the American Guild of Organists as National Vice President. In addition to organ and harpsichord, his instructional activities currently include improvisation, continuo playing, organ design and literature, and coaching the UW-Madison Early Music Ensemble.
Charles Weaver, lute, performs on early plucked-string instruments. Chamber music appearances include Quicksilver, Early Music New York, Hesperus, Piffaro, Parthenia, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Folger Consort, TENET, ARTEK, Musica Pacifica, and Blue Heron. He is on the faculty of the Juilliard School and the City University of New York Graduate Center, and the New York Continuo Collective. He has taught at the Lute Society of America Summer Workshop in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Western Wind Workshop, and the Yale Baroque Opera Project. He is assistant director of the St. Mary's Student Schola program in Norwalk, CT, teaching Gregorian chant and renaissance music theory to children.
Musicology, History, Culture
J. Michael Allsen, musicology, is a Professor of Music at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has several published musicological articles, editions, and reviews to his credit, and has contributed to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, to its German counterpart Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, and to several other reference works. An active program annotator, writes program notes for the Madison, where he is a bass trombonist. Allsen received the College of Arts and Communication Excellence Award for teaching and the College's Excellence Award for research. Since 2001, he has lectured and written program notes for Madison Early Music Festival.
John W. Barker, lecturer; historian, is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where, for almost forty years, he taught areas of Mediterranean Medieval history (Byzantium, Crusades, Venice), plus a multimedia course in relations between music and history. He has published widely on both history and music. A passionate record-collector, he has been a staff reviewer with The American Record Guide for over fifty years, he has been an active radio broadcaster in Madison (for WHA/WERN; now for WORT), and he is classical-music critic for Madison’s Isthmus.
Michael Kuharski, dance, has been leader of Madison's lively folkdance community since 1969, teaching weekly year round. With focus on Balkan traditions, he has made thirteen grassroots journeys through the region, speaks Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian, has personal repertoire of hundreds of dances. Michael is Director of Wisconsin Folk Arts Association, directs the Folk Ball Festival, organizes June Camp workshop weekend, and teaches regularly at regional gatherings such as Door County Folk Festival. He plays piano, accordion, folk percussion; is village musician to his own dance community; edits recordings to serve dance needs; advises folk orchestras; has transcribed folk songs and dance melodies "by the score".
Nina Stern, recorder, studied at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland, where she received a Soloist’s Degree. Ms. Stern performs widely on recorders, chalumeaux, and historical clarinets. She has appeared with The New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera, American Classical Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, I Solisti Veneti, Hesperion XX, Apollo’s Fire, and Tafelmusik, and has recorded for Erato, Harmonia Mundi, Sony Classics, and others. Ms. Stern was appointed to the faculty of Juilliard’s Historical Performance program in 2012 and has served on the faculties of the Mannes College of Music, the Civica Scuola di Musica (Milan, Italy), and the Oberlin Conservatory.
Michael Kuharski, dance. (for bio, see Musicology, History, Culture)
Kristina Boerger, All Festival Conductor. (for bio, see Voice)
Jerry (Chiwei) Hui, assistant conductor, is the founder, director, and conductor of many ensembles throughout the years. Recent affiliations in Madison include early music ensemble Eliza's Toyes, contemporary performance arts ensemble New Music Everywhere (New Muse), and the Compline services at Luther Memorial Church. He is currently the director of choral activities at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Besides being an active vocalist and conductor, Dr. Hui is also an award-winning composer of chamber music, choral works, and opera, whose music has been performed in the United States, Germany, France, Scotland, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
Tom Zajac, All Festival Conductor and Director, is a multi-instrumentalist member of Piffaro and Ex Umbris, and appears frequently as a guest with the Folger Consort, Newberry Consort, Boston Camerata, Cançonièr, and the Texas Early Music Project. He performed 14th-century music at the 5th Millennium Council event in the East Room of the Clinton White House and 18th-century music for the score of the Ric Burn's New York documentary. He's played hurdy gurdy for the American Ballet Theater, bagpipe for a Gatorade commercial, and serpent on Prairie Home Companion. Tom teaches at workshops throughout the U.S., is on the faculty of the Madison and Amherst Early Music Festivals, and directs the early music ensembles at Wellesley College.