Their work described as “mesmerizing” (Fanfare) and “exquisite” (Early Music America), Cançonièr is a Bay Area-based early music group devoted to medieval repertoire from the 12th to the 15th centuries, and some traditional music from related regions (Scandinavia, the Balkans, and the Middle East).
Created by acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Tim Rayborn and recorder virtuoso Annette Bauer in the summer of 2008, the group has quickly gained the attention of the early music community, and received acclaim for its musicianship, unusual and exciting concert programs, and its two recordings. Utilizing voices and instruments, Cançonièr brings to life the vibrant musical cultures of medieval Europe, through a combination of scholarly research, improvisational techniques, and impeccable musicianship.
Cançonièr is an Occitan word (medieval southern French), meaning “songbook.” Its equivalent in northern France was the chansonnier. These books were medieval collections of songs, with both secular and sacred works being included. Cançonièr seeks to inform as well as entertain, and the group’s concerts are spiced with fascinating historical anecdotes, and their signature humor!
The ensemble’s recording, The Black Dragon – Music from the Time of Vlad Dracula, is described as “beautifully performed” by Harmonia National Radio, and “highly recommended” by Fanfare magazine.
Future concerts include the San Diego Early Music series, the Houston Early Music series, Saint Cecilia Music series (Austin, TX), Early Music Hawaii, the Academy of Early Music (Ann Arbor, MI), and World Arts West.
Cançonièr is the Ensemble-in-Residence at MusicSources, Center for Historically Informed Performances, Inc. Based in Berkeley, CA, this organization is a non-profit institution and an educational resource. Its annual concert series features distinguished local and international artists.
With a voice reviewed as “arresting, haunting, expressive, clear-toned, and sweet,” soprano Phoebe Jevtovic performs chamber music, early opera, and experimental music in the United States and abroad. She has appeared as a soloist with the Waverly Consort, American Bach Soloists, Musica Angelica, Magnificat, and North Holland Opera. Roles performed include Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Amphitrite in Locke’s Tempest, Cupid in Purcell’s Timon of Athens, and the title role in Rossi’s Orfeo.
Among Phoebe’s varied collaborations are the baroque ensemble La Monica; art song with celebrated pianist Robert Thies; and early music and dance with Italy’s visionary Art Monastery Project. She has also toured the US and Indonesia with Gamelan X (Balinese-inspired hybrid world music ensemble); and sung Balkan folk music with Kitka and VOCO. Phoebe has recorded for Dorian, Nonesuch, and Sony Records. Phoebe completed her Master of Arts degree in Early Music Performance at the University of Southern California, and has edited a book of 17th-century solo songs by Tarquinio Merula that has been published by A&R Editions.
Shira Kammen has spent well over half her life exploring the worlds of early, traditional, and many other styles of music. A member for many years of Ensembles Alcatraz, Project Ars Nova, and Medieval Strings, she has also worked with Sequentia, Hesperion XX, the Boston Camerata, the Folger and Newberry Consorts, The King's Noyse, Piffaro, Tapestry, the Balkan group Kitka, and is the founder of Class V Music, an ensemble dedicated to performance on river rafting trips.
She has performed and taught in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Israel, Morocco, Latvia, Russia, and Japan, and on the Colorado and Rogue Rivers. Shira happily collaborated with singer/storyteller John Fleagle for fifteen years, and performs now with several groups: the medieval ensembles, Fortune’s Wheel and Cançonier; a contemporary music group, Ephemeros; an eclectic ethnic band, Panacea; as well as collaborations with performers such as storyteller Patrick Ball, medieval music expert Margriet Tindemans, and in many theater productions. Some of her original music can be heard in a documentary film about the fans of J.R.R. Tolkien. She has played on a number of movie and television soundtracks, when weird medieval instruments are needed.
Tim Rayborn, an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, plays dozens of musical instruments from medieval Europe, the Middle East, and the Balkans, including: lutes, plucked strings, flutes, and percussion. He has recorded to date on more than 35 CDs for a number of labels, including Gaudeamus, Wild Boar, EMP, Magnatune, and Harmonia Mundi.
Tim lived in the UK for seven years, taking his Ph.D. in medieval studies at the University of Leeds, and working as a musician. He has toured the U.S. and Europe extensively (from Ireland to Turkey), performing concerts at both the York and Beverley Early Music Festivals, Alden Biesen Castle in Belgium, Bunyloa in Majorca, and the Spitalfields Festival in London. He has given a number of performances for BBC in the UK and Channel Islands, toured in Canada and Australia, and worked with folk musicians in Marrakech and Istanbul. He has taught at the SFEMS Medieval/Renaissance summer workshop and Pinewoods Early Music Week in MA, and has appeared with many early music performers, including Ensemble Alcatraz, Anne Azema, Mary Springfels, Susan Rode Morris, Sinfonye, and members of the Harp Consort. In addition to his solo programs, he currently co-directs Cançonièr with Annette Bauer, performs with Patrick Ball, and collaborates regularly with Shira Kammen. His music has been heard on BBC, NPR, and radio stations around the world. His new book, The Violent Pilgrimage, on the early crusades and related topics, will be published by McFarland Publishers this spring.
Priscilla Smith has performed with Philharmonia Baroque, Portland Baroque, Musica Angelica, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, The Handel & Haydn Society, Juilliard Baroque and Orchester Wiener Akademie. A Renaissance wind specialist, she is a member of Piffaro and has appeared with Ex Umbris, Hesperus, The Waverly Consort, and Early Music New York. Her performances have been called “spirited” by the New York Times and “particularly fine” by the Washington Post. Smith is a graduate of Temple University, where she was a modern oboe student of Louis Rosenblatt, and The Juilliard School, where she was a baroque oboe student of Gonzalo Ruiz. She now directs the Early Music Ensemble at Temple University.
Multi-instrumentalist Tom Zajac is a member of the well-known Renaissance wind band Piffaro and is a frequent guest with the Folger Consort, Newberry Consort, Hesperus, Boston Camerata, and others. He has toured extensively, having appeared in concert series and festivals in Hong Kong, Guam, Australia, Israel, Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, and throughout Europe and the United States. He can be heard on over 40 recordings of everything from medieval dances to 21st-century chamber music. With his group Ex Umbris, he performed 14th-century music at the 5th Millennium Council event in the East Room of the Clinton White House and 18th-century music for the score of the Ric Burn’s documentary on the history of New York. He has played hurdy gurdy for the American Ballet Theater, bagpipe for an internationally broadcast Gatorade commercial, and serpent in a PDQ Bach piece live on Prairie Home Companion. He also performs on santur and zurna with the Boston-based Turkish ensemble, Dünya. In August 2011, he was invited by the Polish government to take part in a research visit to hear and meet Polish early music ensembles. Tom teaches at recorder and early music workshops throughout the US, and directs the Medieval & Renaissance week of the SFEMS workshops, as well as the early music ensembles at Wellesley College near his home in Boston.