Having first met whilst studying in Basel and performing with the European Union Baroque Orchestra, the core members of the ensemble went on to win first prize and audience prize at the 2007 Brugge International Competition playing the music of Zelenka.
Each member has since established themselves at the forefront of the profession and individually they have been awarded accolades by both critics and the recording industry alike. Their debut recording of the Sonatas of Zelenka (released on LINN in 2012), was awarded a Pizzicato-Supersonic Award and was named BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Chamber Choice’ in November 2012. Future projects include a collaborations with fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, recorder player Maurice Steger and the exploration of Handel and his wind players.
Photo Credit: Diederik Rooker
Ensemble Marsyas perform regularly at the Wigmore Hall (in collaboration with BBC Radio 3) and have appeared at the Göttingen Handel Festival, the East Neuk and Lammermuir Festivals, the Great Music in Irish Houses Festival and the Zelenka Festival in Prague.
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Irish-born Peter Whelan is a versatile musician, with a diverse repertoire spanning over 400 years. He is in constant demand as a bassoonist, director, chamber musician and teacher. Peter is the founder and artistic director of Ensemble Marsyas. Directing from the harpsichord, Peter has led Ensemble Marsyas in performances at the Wigmore Hall, Dublin Castle and at the Lammermuir and Great Music in Irish Houses Festivals.
As director, Peter has a particular passion for exploring and championing neglected and forgotten music of the baroque era. Recent projects funded by The Arts Council (Ireland) and Creative Scotland involved recreating from the manuscripts and staging in live performance choral and symphonic music from eighteenth-century Dublin and Edinburgh.
In 2017, Peter conducted a production of Acis and Galatea with Opera Theatre Company in collaboration with the Irish Baroque Orchestra and in August he will make his directing debut at the Edinburgh International Festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival.
Born in 1988, Thomas Dunford discovered the lute at the age of 9, thanks to the encouragment of Claire Antonini. By 2006, he was awarded a unanimous 1st Prize with honors in the class of Charles-Edouard at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris before completing his studies at the Schola Cantorum in Basel with Hopkinson Smith.
His first professional appearance was as the onstage lutenist at the Comédie Française in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’. He has gone on to perform as soloist and chamber musician across Europe and Asia at many of the most prestigious festivals including, Ambronay, Saintes, La Chaise Dieu, and Bozar with ensembles such as Le Concert Spirituel, les Arts Florissants, l’Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, Capriccio Stravagante, La Serenissima, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, the English Concert, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, La Symphonie du Marais and La Fenice.
Thomas already has an impressive discography including recordings with La Capella Mediterranea, Ensemble Clématis, Monica Hugget, Andrea Benedetti, La Serenissima, A 2 Violes Esgales, Capricio Stravagante, Arcangelo, and Bach’s mass in B minor with Pygmalion.
A versatile musician, Thomas has collaborated with the likes of Christophe Coin, Monica Hugget, William Christie, Skip Sempé, Francois Lazarévitch, Paul Agnew, and Jean Tubéry but is also at home playing other genres of music including Jazz.
Philippe was born in Nancy, France in 1980. He studied piano and oboe before joining the harpsichord class of Anne-Catherine Bücher. In 1999 he won a place at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis where he studied harpsichord and basso continuo with Jesper Christensen and pianoforte with Edoardo Torbianelli.
In 2002 he was invited to join La Cetra Barockorchester in Basel where he performed under the direction of artists such as René Jacobs, Jordi Savall and Konrad Junghänel. On completion of his studies he became the harpsichordist of the ensemble Harmonie Universelle, lead by Florian Deuter, where he plays as both continuo player and soloist on tour throughout Europe and the US and on the ensembles recordings for the Eloquentia label.
Philippe lives in Paris and performs regularly with Le Poème Harmonique, Les Nouveaux Caractères, The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, La Chapelle Rhénane, La Fenice, Le Cercle de l’Harmonie and plays and records as a chef de chant with Emmanuelle Haim’s concert d’Astrée including productions of the Fairy Queen, La Resurrezione, Orlando, Agrippina, Giulio Cesare.
With experience in modern-orchestral, opera and continuo bass playing, Christine’s repertoire spans from early baroque to the contemporary.
After a period of time working at the State Theatre, Wiesbaden she went on to study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Frank Reinecke where she graduated with distinction in 2001. It was here that she first became interested in early music, a curiosity which lead her to Maggie Urquhart at the Conservatoire in The Hague where she received her masters degree.
Christine is in constant demand with ensembles across Europe and has performed around the globe with the likes of Simon Rattle (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment), the Gabrieli Consort, Phillippe Herreweghe (Orchestre des Champs Elysees and Collegium Vocale Gent), the King’s consort, Collegium Vocale Gent, Monica Huggett (Sonnerie), Ton Koopman (The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra) and Marc Minkowski (Les Musiciens du Louvre) to name but a few.
Sarah McMahon began learning the cello in Nairobi at the age of ten. She subsequently moved to Dublin to study with Nora Gilleece at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. In 1995 she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in London where she continued her studies with David Strange, Jenny Ward-Clarke and Colin Carr.
In 1999 she founded the Callino string quartet with whom she now has a busy performing schedule. They have collaborated with numerous composers for string quartet including Kevin Volans, Ian Wilson, Arvo Pärt, Gyorgy Kurtàg, Alexander Knaifel, Aleksandra Vrebalov and Peteris Vasks.
In addition to this Sarah is passionately committed to historical performance practice and is principal cello with the Irish Baroque Orchestra and a member of Camerata Kilkenny and Ensemble Marsyas. She is also regularly invited to play guest principal cello with the Academy of Ancient Music, Arcangelo, the Aurora orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Granted, no bassoonist could have been more persuasive than the lithe, lush-toned Peter Whelan. Emerging from a puff of smoke in costume, quiff and shades, he made the instrument squeal and swoon – and all this from a noted baroque specialist.
Gorgeous renditions of Vivaldi's bassoon concertos
Marsyas offers magnetic support with strings and woodwind lithe yet solid
The ensemble, under the leadership of musical director Peter Whelan, display tight ensemble playing and manage to envelop the Royal Chapel with their energy and musicality.
Such overwhelmingly beautiful music that one can not help but to fall in love at first sight
The players combine wit, taste and an earthy Bohemian wink to win the heart
His music positively flourishes in the hands of the Ensemble Marsyas
The players are audibly intelligent, at once humorous and illuminating
Ensemble Marsyas impresses me with their nimble fingers but it's the group's nuance that's transfixing