Amanda Sidebottom, soprano; Erik Ryding, lute
Specialists in early music, soprano Amanda Sidebottom and lutenist Erik Ryding formed Well-Tuned Words in 2011 to explore the rich repertoire of Renaissance and early Baroque lute songs. In 2011–2012, their debut concert season, their recitals take them to four states, and their European debut is scheduled for November 2012. Their HD videos are carried on the Quill Classics YouTube channel. Visit welltunedwords.com.
A native of Fairfield, Connecticut, soprano Amanda Sidebottom is known for her “luminous,” clear tone and versatile musicianship. Now based in New York City, she is an active soloist, choral singer, and chamber musician, performing music ranging from Renaissance polyphony to newly commissioned works. The year 2010 marked her NYC debut as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah with a period-instrument orchestra. With the Cathedral Choir this season she has sung in a series of concerts at St. John the Divine and was a soloist on a live broadcast for 9/11 on WQXR. Also this season she sang in Holy Trinity Lutheran’s well-known Bach Vespers series and joined the New Haven–based ensemble Yale Vocal Artists for concerts led by William Christie. Amanda can be heard with Etherea Vocal Ensemble on the group’s debut album, Ceremony of Carols (Delos), released in 2011.
An avid proponent of historical performance, she has worked with such luminaries as Ellen Hargis, Stephen Stubbs, and Grant Herreid and has been invited to participate in workshops in Vancouver, Seattle, and Boston. She has performed in fringe concerts at early-music festivals in Boston and San Francisco (Berkeley) with the New York Continuo Collective and the award-winning Ensemble Lipzodes. She has also worked with the early-music chamber ensemble The Soul’s Delight. In addition, as a member of the New Haven–based Etherea Vocal Ensemble, she performs works of the 19th and 20th centuries for upper voices. A founding member and now artistic director of the chamber choir Conflitti di voci, she has sung in acclaimed performances of major oratorio works with New York’s Grand Tour Orchestra.
Amanda holds a master’s degree in early music from Indiana University. For more information, visit amandasidebottom.com.
Born in New York City, Erik Ryding began music studies at age nine, when his father gave him his first lessons on the harpsichord. In high school he performed in an electric-guitar duo and also studied classical guitar with William Hellermann; he later studied with jazz guitarist Lou Mecca. In his late teens, he settled on the lute, studying with Frank Eyler in New York and participating in master classes with Eugen Dombois in the Netherlands. As an undergraduate he majored in music and English, giving early-music performances in the New York area and accompanying many singers. He later studied lute in Basel, Switzerland, with Anthony Bailes, taking a particular interest in historical techniques and ornamentation. In 1979 and 1981 he toured Germany, performing with the soprano and lutenist Cornelia Praetorius in programs of lute songs, solos, and duets.
Though he continued to play the lute while finishing his doctoral dissertation at Columbia—a thesis on Renaissance music and poetry, later published as In Harmony Framed—in the mid-1980s he began to suffer severe back pain, which eventually forced him to stop playing altogether. In 2008, however, after hearing a performance by the 93-year-old Les Paul, he determined to return to the lute, teaching himself how to play while standing up, which put less stress on his back. He began performing with soprano Amanda Sidebottom in 2010, and they formed Well-Tuned Words the following year.
Erik taught literature for a decade and a half, specializing in the Renaissance, before beginning a new life in the frenetic music business—a period culminating in seven years at Carnegie Hall. With his wife, the harpsichordist Rebecca Pechefsky, he co-authored the award-winning biography Bruno Walter: A World Elsewhere (Yale University Press). Since 2004 he has given annual pre-concert lectures on different lute-song collections performed by My Lord Chamberlain’s Consort. His other lectures include the pre-concert talks on Mahler’s Eighth for Lorin Maazel’s final appearances as music director of the New York Philharmonic.