Conductor/lutenist Mike Fentross has largely earned his credits as an early music specialist. He is working all over Europe as a conductor, soloist and basso continuo player and he is professor of lute and basso continuo at the Royal Conservatory The Hague. In 2006 he founded the baroque orchestra La Sfera Armoniosa.
Mike Fentross conducted in many festivals and concerthalls like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. the Festival van Vlaanderen, Festival d’Ambronay, Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht, Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci, Paradiso Amsterdam, Monteverdi Festival Cremona, Festival de Musica Portico de Zamora, Festival Musica Antiqua Brugge, Vantaa Early Music Festival, Bayreuth Barock and Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht. For two times
he had the honour to conduct in the presence of Queen Beatrix of Holland. In 1988 Mike Fentross graduated at the Royal Conservatory The Hague where he studied with lute pionier Toyohiko Satoh. In 1994 he won the Van Wassenaer Competition in Amsterdam with violinist Helene Schmitt. He played chamber music with musicians as Yo Yo Ma, Ton Koopman, Janine Jansen, Marion Verbruggen, Sonia Prina, Maria Bajo, Wilbert Hazelzet, Bruce Dickey, Lucy van Dael, Andrew Lawrence King, Philippe Jarousski, Eduardo Lopez Banzo, Skip Sempe and Gerard Lesne. Mike has recorded more than 75 cd’s.
He studied conducting with Stefan Pas. As conductor he debuted in 1999 with La Dafne from Marco da Gagliano in a production of the New Opera Academie in Amsterdam. In 2006 he conducted in the presence of Queen Beatrix the modern world premiere from the opera l’Ipermestra from Cavalli in a prestigeous jubilee production from the Utrecht Early Music Festival and in 2008 he conducted a second unearthed Cavalli opera La Rosinda in a production from the Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci Potsdam. In 2009 he conducted for the first time in the big hall from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and in the same year he was musical director in the production Granida performed in the presence of Queen Beatrix. About his debut as conductor from the Dutch Chamber Choir in 2010 in the Concertgebouw the press wrote: Conductor Mike Fentross rivalled Caravaggio with the score of the Maria Vespers. His first time conducting the Nederlands Kamerkoor was a resounding success.
Mike doesn’t only conduct Early Music, in 2004 he conducted Pierrot Lunaire from Arnold Schoenberg. The press wrote: There was great enthusiasm for Mike Fentross as conductor of a double bill consisting of Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire. Mike Fentross gave a performance of Pierrot lunaire that ‘appeared to come from another planet’.
In 2012 Mike made his Austrian debut in the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt with great success in a program with coloratura soprano Simone Kermes and in the same year he conducted the pre jubilee concert for the Concertgebouw in a program with solo violinist Lucy van Dael and singers Henk Neven and Andreas Scholl. In 2013 he conducted the Fairy Queen with his orchestra and the Netherlands Chamberchoir.
Since 2013 he is regularly conducting the baroque orchestra and choir of the Royal Conservatory. In 2014 he was invited by Paradiso Orchestra to conduct Beethovens Eroica. In 2016 he conducted the Netherlands Chamber Choir in a Bach, Faure program live broadcast on national radio.
BRISK, the ensemble’s name, is intended to convey an idea of liveliness and wakefulness. A critic once described the ensemble as providing “a coup de grâce for the recorder’s respectable image”. BRISK’s concerts exhibit variation of style and mood, virtuosity and light-heartedness in equal measure. The quartet always appear on stage with an enormous assembly of recorders. Since their founding in 1986, BRISK has given many concerts in important concert halls and festivals throughout Europe, in Bolivia, Canada and the USA. BRISK has recorded for radio and television both in the Netherlands and abroad, as well as recording over ten CDs that have been well received by both press and public.
Its daring programming of early music in combination with contemporary music is designed to expand the borders of the ensemble’s repertoire. Many composers have dedicated works to the quartet. BRISK works regularly with fellow musicians as well as with artists from other related disciplines such as actors, directors, librettists and film-makers.
BRISK made its name through lively performances of early music, the search for little-known repertoire, and for the many arrangements that the ensemble has made, which suit the style and tradition of the instrument. BRISK has collaborated with Amaryllis Dieltiens, Michael Chance, Marcel Beekman, Johannette Zomer, Maarten Koningsberger, the Egidius Kwartet, the Gesualdo Consort, Bernard Winsemius, Leo van Doeselaar, Rainer Zipperling, Mike Fentross and Camerata Trajectina amongst others.
The long list of composers that have written music for the quartet includes Martijn Padding, Kate Moore, Calliope Tsoupaki, Bart Visman, Klaas de Vries, Roderik de Man and many others.
New works are presented as a comment on or as a contrast to older works in BRISK’s programmes. There is also a large quantity of new music in BRISK’s programmes for younger audiences. BRISK regularly gives concerts in collaboration with specialists in contemporary music such as pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama, composer and improviser Guus Janssen, vocalist Greetje Bijma and percussionist Ramon Lormans.
BRISK has created a number of highly successful productions for children with directors David Prins, Jetse Batelaan, Marc Krone, Gienke Deuten and actors Porgy Franssen, Bart Kiene and Hans Thissen.
The quartet possesses a great variety of instruments; its extensive contacts with recorder makers throughout the world ensure that its collection is in a state of continual development. This variety of instruments enables the ensemble to perform works from the Renaissance and the Baroque as well as the 20th and 21st centuries in their correct tuning and with the correct timbre.
William Byrd was an English composer. He was one of the greatest composers of his generation. Hiis name is sometimes spelled as Bird, Byrde, or Byred. The exact dates of his birth and death are not known, and even his place of birth (Lincoln) is merely guesswork, based on the fact that several families named Byrd lived in Lincolnshire during the 17th century.
As a child, Byrd received music lessons from the renowned Thomas Tallis in the Chapel Royal in London. Byrd is part of the so-called virginalists. In 1563, he was appointed as organist of the cathedral in Lincoln, even though he must have only been around 20 years old and in 1572 he was appointed as organist of Chapel Royal together with Tallis. In 1575, again with Tallis, he received the rights to publish and sell his music by Queen Elizabeth I. In honour of the Queen, the two composers dedicated their Cantiones Sacrae in the same year.
On multiple occasions, Byrd was prosecuted in court. As a catholic, he was repeatedly prosecuted for the rejection of Anglicanism. Nonetheless, he remained in favour of the Queen, probably because he composed music for both religious branches. Moreover, he wrote both secular and sacred music, and both vocal and instrumental pieces.