Stile Antico is firmly established as one of the world’s most accomplished and innovative vocal ensembles. Working without a conductor, its twelve members have thrilled audiences throughout Europe and North America with their fresh, vibrant and moving performances of Renaissance polyphony. Its bestselling recordings on the Harmonia Mundi label have earned accolades including the Gramophone Award for Early Music, Diapason d’or de l’année, Edison Klassiek Award and Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and have received three Grammy® nominations.
Based in London, Stile Antico has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious venues and festivals. The group enjoys a particularly close association with the Wigmore Hall and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and has appeared at the BBC Proms, Buckingham Palace, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Cité de la Musique, Luxembourg Philharmonie and Leipzig Gewandhaus. Stile Antico is frequently invited to perform at Europe’s leading festivals: highlights include the Lucerne Easter Festival, the Rheingau, Schleswig-Holstein and Wrocław Festivals and the Antwerp, Barcelona, Bruges, Granada, Utrecht and York Early Music Festivals.
Since making its North American debut at the Boston Early Music Festival in 2009, Stile Antico has enjoyed frequent tours to the US and Canada. The group performs regularly in Boston and in New York’s Music before 1800 and Miller Theatre series, and has appeared at Washington’s National Cathedral and Library of Congress, Vancouver’s Chan Centre, the Quebec Festival of Sacred Music, at Duke, Michigan, and Yale Universities, and in concert series spanning twenty-two US states. In 2010, Stile Antico made its debut at the Cervantino festival in Mexico.
Stile Antico is renowned for the committed and expressive performances that arise from its uniquely collaborative style of working: members rehearse and perform as chamber musicians, each contributing artistically to the musical results. The group is also noted for its compelling programming, drawing out thematic connections between works to shine new light on Renaissance music. In addition to its core repertoire, Stile Antico has given world premieres of works by John McCabe, Huw Watkins, and, most recently, Nico Muhly, whose Gentle Sleep was written to mark the group’s tenth birthday. Stile Antico’s diverse range of collaborators includes Fretwork and the Folger Consort of viols, pianist Marino Fomenti, orchestra B’Rock, and Sting.
Alongside its concert and recording work, Stile Antico is passionate about sharing its repertoire and working style with the widest possible audience, and its masterclasses and workshops are much in demand. As well as leading regular courses at the Dartington International Summer School, the group has been resident at Zenobia Música, and is often invited to work alongside ensembles at universities, festivals, and early music forums. The support of the charitable Stile Antico Foundation has enabled Stile Antico to expand its education work in schools, and to offer annual bursaries to talented young consort singers.
Highlights of Stile Antico’s 2017-18 season include a visit to Colombia for the group’s first concerts in South America, two tours to the United States, and a residency at Aldeburgh. The group’s twelfth recording for Harmonia Mundi, featuring Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories, is released early in 2018.
Unlike other ensembles of its type, Stile Antico has no conductor. Its twelve members work as chamber musicians, rehearsing intensively together to arrive at the group’s musical interpretations, and listening closely and responding to one another’s voices in performance.
The term ‘stile antico’, pronounced STEE-lay an-TEE-co, literally means ‘old style’. It was coined during the seventeenth century to describe the style of Renaissance church composition epitomised by the music of Palestrina – polyphonic and imitative in texture, even in rhythm, strictly controlled in its use of dissonance – as opposed to the modern developments in the works of Monteverdi and his contemporaries. Over the centuries, the ‘stile antico’ came to be seen as an ideal of musical purity, and composers such as Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt and Bruckner studied it as part of their training. It is still taught in universities today.
Stile Antico’s repertoire focuses on the astonishingly rich legacy of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century polyphonic composition. It encompasses not only the music of Palestrina and his Italian, Flemish and Spanish contemporaries, but also the fascinating and diverse English school, from the dazzling complexity of the Eton Choirbook to the masterpieces of Taverner, Sheppard, Tallis and Byrd, and the Elizabethan madrigalists. Just as no single voice predominates in the polyphonic style, Stile Antico’s collaborative working method allows all its members to contribute artistically in crafting its performances. The results have been described as ‘wonderfully vivid’ – a direct, personal interpretative approach to the choral repertory, conveying both the beauty and the drama of the finest polyphonic music of the Renaissance.