FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BOSTON, MA, February 3rd, 2014 – Letterbox Arts is delighted to announce the release of J.S. Bach Suites & Sonatas Volume One, the inaugural recording in an ambitious three-part series by baroque cellist and viola da gamba player Shirley Hunt. This ground-breaking new recording offers listeners the unusual opportunity to hear Bach’s cello suites and viola da gamba sonatas performed side-by-side by the same artist. Available February 17th, Hunt's debut album includes the turbulent Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, the spirited Gamba Sonata in G Minor, and the luminous Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major. Through her interpretations of these enchanting masterworks, Hunt, 29, unveils her arresting multi-instrumental artistry and firmly establishes herself as a must-hear soloist in the world of historical performance.
From inception to release, the album's development has taken Hunt on a journey from the Berkeley Early Music Festival, to Canada's Banff Centre, to Boston, where she founded Letterbox Arts as a label for independent artists. “I wanted to sink my teeth into a project that would sustain me artistically for a serious amount of time,” Hunt explains. “After performing an all-Bach recital at the Berkeley Early Music Festival in 2012, I knew I wanted to deepen my experience with these pieces even further. I got my wish, because later that year I was invited to be an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre, where I lived and breathed this music nonstop for two months before the recording sessions.”
The album has also offered Hunt a way to go beyond the notes and explore the interconnectedness of her world. Born into a musical family, Hunt is the younger sister of the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, a champion of baroque music. “The whole reason I now play period instruments has to do with all these intertwined things, like growing up listening to my sister's recordings of Handel and Bach,” Hunt says, “and later being really moved by the artistry of some of my teachers who had been her colleagues.” The album is dedicated to the memory of Hunt Lieberson. “I always thought this project was the ultimate way to say thank you, by creating something that comes out of a feeling of beauty you know you’ve had before, and that other people have had too,” reflects Hunt. “And for me, playing the music of Bach is a really meaningful way to touch upon that universal thread.”
Complete Track Listing:
1 – 6. Suite No. 4 for solo cello in E-flat major – J. S. Bach
7-9. Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord in G minor – J. S. Bach
10-15. Suite No. 1 for solo cello in G major – J. S. Bach
For tracks 7 – 9, Hunt is joined by early keyboard specialist Ian Pritchard on harpsichord. Hunt and Pritchard began their artistic partnership in 2007 while both were in graduate school at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.
J.S. Bach Suites & Sonatas Volume One was recorded at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in San Bruno, CA. The album is now available for pre-order at www.letterboxarts.com, and will become available on iTunes and Amazon.com February 17th.
About the performers
Praised for her imaginative and inspired performances, American cellist and viola da gamba player Shirley Hunt performs extensively with the nation's leading period instrument ensembles and in recital as a soloist and chamber musician.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Ms. Hunt holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Southern California, where her principal teachers were Hans Jensen, Ronald Leonard, and Mary Springfels. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts, has served as a Visiting Teaching Artist at California Institute of the Arts, and has given master classes at Cornish College of the Arts, Willamette University, and the Oakwood Academy of Creative Education. She can be heard on the NCA, Parma, and Origin Classical labels as well as on numerous pop/rock albums and feature film soundtracks.
Ms. Hunt's current collaborative projects include Bradamante, a baroque cello duo with Canadian cellist Elinor Frey; Douglas Detrick's AnyWhen Ensemble, a chamber-jazz quintet based in Portland, Oregon; and Sonnambula, a consort of viols based in New York City.
For more information, please visit www.shirleyhunt.net
Ian Pritchard earned his Bachelor of Music degree in harpsichord performance at Oberlin Conservatory, then moved to London in 2000 to study at the Royal Academy of Music, where he graduated with Distinction. While living in Europe he performed with groups such as Florilegium, the Academy of Ancient Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Orquesta Nacional de España, and the Irish Baroque Orchestra. He also appeared frequently on BBC Radio 3 and on the BBC 2 production "Vivaldi Unmasked".
In 2001, Ian won 1st Prize in the Broadwood Harpsichord Competition and was a prizewinner in the 2003 1st International Harpsichord Competition P. Bernardi in Bologna, Italy. In the same year, he was awarded a US Fulbright Scholarship to Italy to research early Italian keyboard music. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Historical Musicology at USC, where he plans to write his dissertation on Italian keyboard music, notation, and performance practice in the 16th century.
Ian's first solo CD, a disc of 16th-century Venetian virginal music entitled L’arpicordo, is available on iTunes and other online stores. He is currently organist and music director at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pasadena, and is involved with Los Angeles early music groups Tesserae and Les Surprises Baroques.