MUSIC’S QUILL was formed in 2000, when Timothy Neill Johnson and Timothy Burris met, and discovered their shared love of the English lute song, the French air de cour, and Italian monody—all rich repertoires combining the beauty of the human voice, accompanied by the delicacy of the lute.
The English tradition was the work of over two dozen composers who together produced thirty-odd volumes of songs. The duo Music’s Quill explores this rich cache of musical delights, the impassioned songs of John Dowland and Thomas Morley, as well as the charming melodies of the less well known Philip Rosseter, Thomas Ford, and Robert Johnson. These songs blend tuneful melodies with the near infinite variety of English poetry.
The ensemble’s performances of French airs de cour highlight the rhythmic fluidity inherent in both the French language and these beautiful songs. This rich repertoire, by composers such as Pierre Guédron, Gabriel Bataille, and François Richard, transports the audience into 17th-century France. Music’s Quill takes the listener into a world full of passionate expression, the emotions of love’s innocence, and the bawdy drinking song.
Music’s Quill’s performances of Italian monody—the dramatic repertoire that helped give birth to opera—bring a heightened sense of drama and pathos to the music. Their musical choices combine the declamatory style of the recitative with the flowing elegance of the aria. Composers range from Giulio Caccini, who accompanied himself on the lute, to Girolamo Frescobaldi, a renowned Roman organist who also composed many moving songs, both secular and sacred.
In both formal concerts and educational events such as master classes, Music’s Quill shares with the audience the beauty of the lute song and its companion art, the rich tradition of 17th-century poetry. Using the lute’s intimacy, Timothy Burris weaves an artful harmonic foundation, which enhances the beauty of the vocal line. Timothy Neill Johnson’s exceptional voice beautifully reveals poetic subtleties, which allow us to imagine the cast of characters in these miniature dramas. Music’s Quill weaves the human voice through the lute’s delicate harmonies, telling deeply human tales of love and loss.