Passamezzo was founded in 2001, initially to explore the Jacobean Masque. The core membership of the ensemble has expanded to: Eleanor Cramer (soprano), Alison Kinder (viols and recorders), Tamsin Lewis (Renaissance violin, viols, voice), Arngeir Haukkson and Jamie Akers (plucked strings), Jack Merivale and Michael Palmer (actor and baritone).
The ensemble specialise in English Elizabethan and Jacobean repertoire, the masque remaining an important part of their programming, and concerts have a distinct theatrical air created by costume, readings and presentation. The ensemble delights in all aspects of musical life, from the intimacy of the lute song, to the brash raucousness of the broadside ballad, from the sacred part song, to the profane insanity of bedlamite mad songs. The programmes are carefully researched with music frequently taken from manuscript sources, unearthing pieces that have lain hidden for centuries. It is this range of material and overall spectacle, combined with the informative and accessible manner of their presentation, that makes Passamezzo such an engaging group.
Passamezzo frequently play at national heritage sites and museums, very often with dancers and actors.
Television and Radio credits include: BBC Restoration and Howard Goodall's The Truth about Carols (BBC2); Big Brother (Channel 4); Frost Fair; King Lear and Boxing Day, (Radio 4); Vic Reevesí Rogues (Discovery); Early Music for the Holidays; Christmas Carols, Chant and Legend (Harmonia Early Music/PRX).
A passamezzo was a popular sixteenth century tune and dance. It could be played and danced simply and enjoyed by anyone, but could also become an exhibition piece, with virtuosic and showy divisions played upon it. We chose the name Passamezzo for ourselves because we feel it reflects the character of our work: we provide a wide range of performances from the very simple to the very elaborate, and pride ourselves on creating a piece which suits your occasion perfectly.
Painting by Helena Broome
Our artistic director, Tamsin Lewis, studied violin at the Florence Conservatoire before reading Classics and Italian at Oxford. She has written, arranged, directed and played music for many theatre productions, including: Play of the Weather; Arraygnment of Paris (Hampton Court Palace); Entertaining Morocco; Lilies on the Land; City Wives' Confederacy; Death of an Actress (Southwark Playhouse); The Real Hans Sachs (Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House); The Crystal Den (New End Theatre); Hero and Leander, The Jew of Malta, Dr Faustus and The Roaring Girl (Rose Theatre Site); Spring's Glorie, The Old Wives Tale and Old Summer's Last Will and Testament (Shakespeare's Globe). Work for Television and Radio Howard Goodall's How Music Works; Royal Deaths and Diseases (Channel 4) In Tune & The Early Music Show (Radio 3). Tamsin is a member of the Lions part Theatre Company and provides music and costume for many of their productions. She is also a researcher for Rondo Publishing and the University of Toronto's Records of Early English Drama Project.