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Mille Fleurs

Mille Fleurs

Jennie Cassidy (voice, sinfonye)

Helen Garrison (voice)

Belinda Sykes (voice, shawm, drums)

A passion for medieval music and a joyous and enthusiastic desire to share it with the listening public have brought the three members of Mille Fleurs together to create a wonderful and unique sound.

“A refreshing approach to Medieval music!” – Christopher Page, BBC Radio 3

Jennie Cassidy, Helen Garrison and Belinda Sykes bring a wealth of experience and research to their performance, incorporating improvisation and recreating the art of the medieval singer.

These characterful singers do not believe female early music singers should sound like modern choirboys but instead celebrate their different vocal timbres with each voice’s natural personality shining through the polyphonic mix.

Working with medieval harpist Jan Walters, Mille Fleurs performed their inaugural tour in 1998, which included the Aust Festival, Farnham Castle and St George’s, Hanover Square. Since then they have been much in demand around the country whilst working towards this, their long-awaited debut recording.

An imaginative and virtuosic singer, Jennie Cassidy has specialised in the field of early music for ten years, performing and recording throughout Europe, the Americas and Asia. She has sung with many leading early music ensembles, including one-to-a-part performances of Bach with the Taverner Consort in Vienna and Ansbach, and frequently appears with the Harp Consort at major festivals in Europe and America. She has also performed and recorded with the New London Consort, Gothic Voices, Joglaresa, the Gabrieli Choir, Musicians of the Globe, Musica Antiqua of London and Psalmody. She directs the acclaimed ensemble Frottola, combining lute, viol and voice. Jennie is renowned for her clarity of tone, her two-and-a-half octave range and her variety of vocal colours. She has recorded over thirty CDs, most as a soloist.

‘The sweetest nightingale of the evening’ was how the press described Helen Garrison whilst a choral scholar in Cambridge. Noted for her purity of tone, sensitive musicality and wide vocal range, she has since performed and recorded with many of the top choirs in the country including the Taverner Choir, English Voices, A Cappella Portuguesa, The Cambridge Taverner Choir, Capella Nova, BBC Daily Service Singers, The Chapel Royal Tower of London and the London Handel Festival Choir, and she is a member of the choir of St Mary’s, Bourne St. As a soloist she has performed with many groups all over the world, as well as giving recitals, accompanied by her husband. She combines her singing with a distinguished career as a radio broadcaster, and is currently a senior producer for BBC Radio 3.

Belinda Sykes is an international concert and recording soloist. She studied voice and improvisation in Morocco, Bulgaria, Syria, Spain and India, and oboe and recorder at the Guildhall School of Music. She has recorded and performed as a soloist with Red Byrd, New London Consort, Tragicomedia, Harp Consort, Paul O’Dette, Ensemble Unicorn, Sarband and Oni Wytars. As an oboist she has played for the Gabrieli Consort, English Concert, King’s Consort, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Age of Enlightenment and Hanover Band, and has collaborated with many composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle. Belinda directs the medieval music ensemble Joglaresa and is Professor of Medieval Song at Trinity College of Music. Her outstanding creativity and understanding of medieval music have been a major inspiration for groups such as The Harp Consort and Sarband.

American historical harpist Jan Walters performs on a range of instruments from medieval to modern, both as a solo recitalist and as an accompanist. A Fulbright research scholar in 1993, she has uncovered much early repertoire for the harp in European music archives and this has formed the basis of her own ensemble, Musica Fabula. Based in England since 1993, Jan worked as an advisor and recorded part of the soundtrack for the Merchant Ivory film Jefferson in Paris on her original 18th century Erard single-action pedal harp. She has performed and recorded with many prominent groups including The Consort of Musicke, Tragicomedia, Red Byrd, The Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen, The Purcell Quartet, The Harp Consort, Netherlands Opera, and Sammy Davis Jr. She has accompanied tenor John Potter (Hilliard Ensemble) in duo recitals of both early and new music, tenor Rufus Muller in recitals of late 18th century harp and voice repertoire and soprano Rachel Elliot in 18th century Georgian reper-toire. Jan has conducted early harp masterclasses for The American Harp Society, The Historical Harp Society, The UK Clarsach Society, Glasgow Early Music Festival, The Royal Academy of Music, The Guildhall School of Music, and in Holland at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and the Hogeschool voor de kunsten Arnhem. Musica Fabula has been featured on BBC Radio 3 and has three CD releases, on ASV, of music by the little-known Monteverdi contemporary, Giovanni Felice Sances. Jan’s other recordings include a disc of Georgian music for harp and sopranos, and a solo harp CD of l8th century music by Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz on ASV.

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