The Vinaccesi Ensemble (www.vinaccesi.com) was founded in 2008 by Kindra Scharich, Nanette McGuinness, and Bruce Wetmore, and first performed as part of the 2008 Berkeley Early Music Fringe Fest. The Ensemble focuses on music of the Baroque, especially that of seventeenth century Italy and the Veneto, and of course, Italian composer Benedetto Vinaccesi (1666-1719)—for whom the ensemble is named. http://www.Vinaccesi.com
Benedetto Vinaccesi began his career in his native city of Brescia. There he studied music, wrote oratorios, sonatas, cantatas, and pastorals, and—by 1692—had been granted the title “cavaliere” by person or persons unknown. The bulk of Vinaccesi’s career, however, was spent in Venice, first as maestro di coro at theOspedaletto (from 1698 to 1715) and then as the principal organist for S. Marco’s second organ (from 1704 to 1719). A prolific composer, he is said to have written more than 450 pieces while at the Ospedaletto alone. Sadly enough, though, few of his works have survived. His extant solo cantatas show him to be a stylish, inventive composer.
The Vinaccesi Ensemble has just recorded their first CD, of the complete extant solo cantatas by their namesake, Benedetto Vinaccesi, due to be released on Centaur Recordings (www.centaurrecords.com) and made possible through the Musical Grant Program, which is administered by the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and supported by the Heller Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.
Kirk Eichelberger, bass, is an experienced performer with a wealth of concert repertoire and over 50 operatic roles to his credit. He has sung Bach’s B Minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Pärt’s Litany, Mozart’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Verdi’s Requiem. Eichelberger has also performed with Washington National Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Vancouver Opera and The Metropolitan Opera. His best known roles incude Mephistopheles (Faust), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Ferrando (Il Trovatore), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte). Eichelberger has also sung in a number of modern English language operas including The Emperor (Tan Dun’s Tea), Karenin (David Carlson’s Anna Karenina), John Hale (Robert Ward’s Crucible), Louis (William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge) and the King (Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince).
Sarge Gerbode, archlute, has been playing the lute since the early 1960s. In his first performance (1963), he accompanied countertenor Alfred Deller A psychiatrist, now retired and living in northern California, he took a 20-year break from the lute during his training and practice as a psychiatrist, but resumed lute playing in 1993 and since then has appeared in many different ensembles around the Bay Area. He maintains a web site containing editions of over 4000 solo, vocal and ensemble pieces for lute, including many of his own arrangements and continuo realizations. http://www.gerbode.net
Nanette McGuinness, soprano, has been hailed in the press for her “creamy golden tone” and her “magnetic stage presence and glorious soprano.” She made her debut under the direction of Alan Curtis in the role of Nino in Cesti’s Semiramide. Solo concert engagements include Handel’s Samson, Solomon, Ode to St. Cecilia, and Messiah, Purcell’s Ode to St. Cecilia, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Vespers, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio and Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergnes with ensembles that include the San Jose Symphony (JoAnn Falletta conducting) Palo Alto Philharmonic, Solano Choral Society, Monterey Peninsula Choral Society, Solano Community Symphony, San Francisco City Chorus, Contra Costa Chorale, and others; audiences have also heard her as Cleopatra, Mimì, Freia, Desdemona, Musetta, Countess Almaviva, First Lady, Micaela, and Foreign Woman with the Silesian State Opera (Czech Republic), Opera San Jose (Opera-in-the-Schools), and West Bay, Pacific Repertory, Trinity Lyric, Berkeley, Verismo, Open and Livermore Valley Operas, among others. She relishes singing new works—and has premiered many, including several on Fabulous Femmes, her CD of music by women composers with the Athena Trio—and is a founding member of the Jewish Music and Poetry Project. She earned a PhD (Music) from UC Berkeley, MM (Vocal Performance) from Holy Names University, and AB (Music) from Cornell University and maintains a voice studio in Berkeley. http://www.nanette.biz
Kindra Scharich, mezzo-soprano has performed a number of roles in the lyric mezzo repertoire, including Rosina, Cherubino, Dorabella, Cornelia and Dido. Her work has encompassed a broad range of styles, whether on the operatic or concert stage. Recent engagements include Countess Lydia Ivanovna in the West Coast premiere of David Carlson’s Anna Karenina, the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah under the baton of Maestro Ragnar Bolin and a recital for the American Composer’s Forum Los Angeles Chapter. She has also performed numerous recitals with Lieder Alive, an organization dedicated to keeping the art of singing German Lieder alive and flourishing. Enthusiastic about working with living composers, Kindra is currently collaborating with California-based composer Janis Mattox on a Spanish chamber opera, underwritten by the Guggenheim foundation and based on a Bolivian legend. Kindra studied voice and piano at University of Michigan and Eastman School of Music, and completed her post-graduate degree at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Her longtime voice teacher is Jane Randolph, and she regularly coaches and collaborates with pianist John Parr of the Badisches Staatstheater and San Francisco Opera.
Jonathan Smucker, tenor, has appeared in more than 35 roles, including leading roles by Mozart, Handel, Rossini, and Gilbert and Sullivan with companies that include, Aspen Music Festival, San Francisco Opera Guild, Oakland Opera Theater, Marin Oratorio, Lamplighters, Ensemble Parallèle/ SFMOMA Opera San Luis Obispo, and Pocket, Festival, West Bay, West Edge, and Townsend Operas. A 2009 Apprentice Artist at Ash Lawn Opera Festival in Charlottesville, VA, he returned as a Principal Artist in 2010. His concert repertoire includes Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, Handel’s Messiah, Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music and Hodie, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. A graduate of the S.F. Conservatory of Music, he is on faculty at the S. F. Community Music Center.
Yuko Tanaka, a native of Tokyo, Japan, is active as harpsichord and fortepiano soloist and ensemble performer. Yuko is a soloist at the Carmel Bach Festival and she performs with numerous ensembles including Music of the Spheres, Musica Pacifica, Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and American Bach Soloists and has appeared at Berkeley Festival and Exhibition and Bloomington Early Music Festival. She has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Ballet orchestra. She maintains a private studio, conducts master classes, and appears as guest lecturer at various universities. Recent engagements include performances at the Frick Collection (New York City), Tage Alter Musik Regensburg (Germany) and the Istanbul International Music Festival, as well as performances on National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts. Yuko received a doctorate in early music from Stanford University and has studied with Margaret Fabrizio at Stanford University, Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Ketil Haugsand in Oslo, Norway. She has recorded with Koch International and Delos International. You can also listen online at magnatune.com.