Folger Consort is the early music ensemble-in-residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Founding Artistic Directors Robert Eisenstein and Christopher Kendall create musical programs from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. The Consort performs concerts in the ensemble’s home, the Folger’s Elizabethan Theatre, and in the Washington National Cathedral, and brings internationally noted guest artists to Washington, DC to join in its “early music chamber society.”
Beyond its concert series, the Folger Consort strives to deepen audiences’ understanding and appreciation of early music through seminars, discussions, recordings, radio broadcasts, and unique collaborations with other programs of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Folger Consort won the Best Classical Chamber Ensemble award from the Washington Area Music Awards in 2006, and every year from 2008-2012.
History and Founders
Founded in 1977...(more history)
Robert Eisenstein is a founding member and the program director of the Folger Consort. In addition to his work with the Consort, he is the director of the Five College Early Music Program in western Massachusetts, where he teaches music history, performs regularly on viola da gamba, violin, and medieval fiddle, and coordinates and directs student performances of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music. He is an active participant in Five College Medieval Studies with a particular interest in the use of computer technology in the service of music.
Eisenstein has performed with many ensembles including the Washington Bach Consort, the Newberry Consort, the National Symphony, Western Wind, and recently at Tanglewood, Amherst Early Music, and other summer festivals. He studied viola da gamba with Judith Davidoff and Richard Taruskin.
Christopher Kendall is the founder of the Folger Consort, which emerged as a significant and enduring presence on the DC cultural scene in 1977. Kendell has been the Dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor since 2005, where he has launched a university-wide initiative recognizing the fundamental role of the all the arts in the human condition and in human culture called "Arts on Earth."
From 1996 to 2005, he was Director of the School of Music at the University of Maryland, during a period of significant institutional growth related to the building of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony from 1987 to 1992 and Director of the Music Division and Tanglewood Institute of the Boston University School for the Arts from 1993 to 1996, Kendall is also Artistic Director, founder and conductor of the 21st Century Consort, the new music ensemble-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution.
Kendall has guest conducted many professional orchestras and ensembles from San Francisco to New York, in repertoire from the 18th to the 21st centuries. His recordings can be heard on the Bard, Delos, Nonesuch, Centaur, ASV, Arabesque, Innova, and Smithsonian Collection labels.
Folger Consort recordings are available online through the Folger Gift Shop.
- Courting Elizabeth: Music and Patronage in Shakespeare's England (2014) September 26-28, 2014
- A Renaissance Christmas: Music of Flanders and Italy circa 1500 (2014) December 16-23, 2014
- The Road to Canterbury: Music of Medieval England (2015) January 9-10, 2015
- The Merchant of Venice: Music and Poetry of Shakespeare's Play (2015) February 27, 2015
- A Polish Renaissance: Music of Poland's Golden Age (2014) (no link on public site)
- Vienna: Music for Maximilian (2013) (no link on public site)
- Dublin: Celtic Art and Music (2013) (no link on public site)
- Paris: Music from the City of Light (2013) (no link on public site)
- Florence: Christmas Music of the Trecento (2012) (no link on public site)
- London: Music from the City of Shakespeare(2012) (no link on public site)
- City of Ladies(2012) (no link on public site)
- The Songbird (2012) (no link on public site)
- Heavenly Revelations(2012) (no link on public site)
- O Magnum Mysterium (2011) (no link on public site)
- A New Song (2011) (no link on public site)
- Marenzio & Morley: Master of the Notes (2006) (no link on public site)
- Making Music (2004) (No link on public site)