St Bride's: Music - Lunchtime Recitals

Musicke in the Ayre – "The Prime of Monteverdi"

Friday, 8 September at 1:15pm - FREE ADMITTANCE - Retiring Collection

Musicke in the Ayre –

Alysha Paterson – soprano
Timea Gazdag – soprano
Esha Neogy – bass viol
Din Ghani – archlute, baroque guitar

C Monteverdi

Pulchra es; Quel sguardo sdegnossetto; Zefiro torna

G Kapsberger



Si dolce e'l tormento

F Corradi

O che felice giorno

A Grandi

O quam tu pulchra es


Sancta Maria succurre miseris

P P Melli

Dimi amore


Felice cor mio; Pur ti miro

The Prime of Monteverdi

Born in Cremona 450 years ago, Claudio Monteverdi's career spanned two musical eras with two quite different styles: the late Renaissance and the early Baroque. His first employers - the Gonzagas at Mantua - did not treat him very well. Overworked and underpaid, he nevertheless was able to establish his reputation through masterworks such as L'Orfeo (one of key milestones in the history of Opera) and the Vespers of 1610 (we open with a duet from the latter). It was his emerging reputation, and his clear mastery of the new style (which he termed seconda pratica), that in 1613 landed him the plum job of choirmaster at St Mark's Basilica in Venice, a post he retained till his death in 1643.

Highly respected and valued by his new employers, Monteverdi was well rewarded and resourced: having highly capable assistants (many of them accomplished composers in their own right, such as Alessandro Grandi) allowed him to continue composing substantial secular as well as sacred works. Of course, the choice of material to publish was often dependent on the market awareness of the music publishers, quite a few of whom were active in Venice. It is clear from guitar-song books of Corradi and others that there was a demand for popular music for amateurs, and a volume of Monteverdi's rather playful Scherzi Musicali appeared in 1632 - we include two pieces from this, including the remarkable duet Zefiro torna. He did not publish any guitar songs, but his Si dolce e'il tormento was published with added guitar chords by Milanuzzi - we pair this with a duet from Corradi's guitar book. Monteverdi's sacred music was perhaps less marketable, but his motet Sancta Maria found its way into a couple of printed collections (including one in Strasbourg).

Of course, his ultimate secular work was his final opera L'Incoronazione di Poppea which appeared just a year or so before his death in 1643, and our programme closes with two pieces from it. Although it was very much a team effort, as he was 75 by then, it still stands out as his crowning achievement.

Musicke in the Ayre was formed by Din Ghani in 2011 as a vehicle for exploring and performing the vast repertoire of C16/17 works for solo voice(s) accompanied by lute or similar, with a growing band of singers who share his passion for lute song. Now established as a leading performer of this repertoire, they have given over 85 recitals across the country and abroad, involving over 20 singers both amateur and professional. They currently have a residency at the National Portrait Gallery.

Australian-born Alysha Paterson was a choral scholar at Cambridge where she was also a regular soloist with the choir of Selwyn College. Passionate about early music, she has attended courses and masterclasses with Emma Kirkby and Catherine Bott, amongst others. As a postgraduate at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (TLCMD) she was a soloist with the TLCMD baroque chorus and players in the Greenwich International Early Music Festival, singing the role of Virtue from Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea in TLCMD's opera scenes. She has given a recital of French Baroque music at the Foundling Museum, as well as three varied recitals with Musicke in the Ayre. Alysha recently won the TLCMD historical performance prize with a programme of Italian baroque song for voice and harp, performing with harpist Letizia Eriano as Duo Cecchina.

Timea Gazdag studied singing with early music specialist Judit Avar in Budapest, performing in public at an early age. She has recently completed her MMus at TLCMD under Wendy Eathorne, supported by the Ferguson Trust and the Sidney Perry Foundation. She has taken part in masterclasses with Emma Kirkby in pursuing her love of the early repertoire. She has also performed with TLCMD's PG Opera Company in various Handel and Monteverdi roles, and has taken part in a Musicke in the Ayre concert. Most recently she has taken part in creating the role of Pitty for Stephen McNeff's new opera, 'Banished', and is singing Victorian popular repertoire with the touring group The Bold Balladiers.

Esha Neogy is a viol player and event organiser who divides her time between Honolulu and London. She is a member of the Europa Early Music Consort (in Hawaii) and the prize-winning Ensemble Tramontana (in London), and has performed with Musicke in the Ayre, Chelys, Echoing Air, and various other ensembles. The events she has directed or organised include the international Pan-Pacific Gamba Gathering held in Honolulu in 2007.

Din Ghani began playing the lute in 1975, and in the last decade took up lute-making; he has made a number of lutes and other early plucked string instruments, mostly for his own use. Since 2007 he has participated regularly as an accompanist in lutesong masterclasses given by Emma Kirkby and Evelyn Tubb. The coaching received from David Miller and Michael Fields at these events helped hone his accompaniment skills, together with occasional lessons from other top lutenists (Liz Kenny in particular). Both of the instruments used in this concert were made by him.


Musicke in the Ayre was formed by lutenist/luthier Din Ghani in 2011 to explore the vast repertoire of C16/17 songs with lute or continuo. Now established as leading performers of this genre, they have given over 85 recitals across the country and abroad, involving over 20 singers. The present team includes prize-winning soloist and recitalist Alysha Paterson (a former Cambridge choral scholar) duetting with fellow TLCMD alumni Timea Gazdag whose recent MMus involved her in various early opera roles. Support on bass viol comes from Esha Neogy (also ex-TLCMD) who has performed with various ensembles here and abroad. Din has played lute since 1975, and will accompany on archlute and baroque guitar, both made by him.