Baroque Bonanza – June 21 Artist Biographies

Alexandra MacCracken is the founder and director of Ensemble Gaudior, and has performed as a baroque violinist with Bach Sinfonia, the Washington Bach Consort, Opera Lafayette, and Modern Musick, as well as with other period-instrument ensembles in Richmond, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Early Music America, a national service and advocacy organization for the field of historical performance in North America, and is training to become a Gestalt Pastoral Care Guide. Violin by Jacob Stainer (Absam, Austria, 1665) Marta Soderberg Howard performs in the Washington area with groups as diverse as the Folger Consort and The Trans-Siberian Orchestra and in venues ranging from the National Cathedral to Signature Theatre. She also appears regularly with Virginia Virtuosi, the Washington Bach Consort and the Assisi Performing Arts Festival in Umbria, Italy. She has served on the faculty of the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Georgetown University, and currently teaches viola in her active home studio. Viola by Jason Viseltear (New York, 2009), after Giaccomo Gennaro (Cremona, Italy, c. 1650) Doug Poplin performs regularly in venues throughout the metropolitan Washington area as a recitalist, chamber musician, and ensemble member. Never content with standing still, he has pushed his artistic flexibility to include both early music—performing and recording on baroque violoncello with The Bach Sinfonia as well as concertizing with The Washington Bach Consort—and experimental music on electric ’cello with the avant-garde ensemble BLK W/ BEAR and his newest collaboration with singer-songwriter Rich Morel. Cello by an anonymous 18th-century Saxon maker Elena Tsai performs as a harpsichord soloist and continuo player in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. corridor, with ensembles including the Bach Sinfonia, Ensemble Gaudior, the Handel Choir of Baltimore, Harmonious Blacksmith, and Washington's Camerata. She received her master's degree in harpsichord performance from the University of Michigan as a student of Edward Parmentier, and has been a semi-finalist in both the Pro Musicis Competition in New York City and the Jurow International Harpsichord Competition. She currently resides in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband, fellow harpsichordist Joseph Gascho, their two children, and three harpsichords. Harpsichord by Willard Martin (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1981), after Nicolas Blanchet (Paris, c. 1715)
Sarah Weiner is an active player of both modern and historical oboes, and has performed with a wide range of period-instrument ensembles both locally (Bach Sinfonia, Folger Consort, Washington Bach Consort) and around the country (New Trinity Baroque, Texas Camerata, Orchestra of New Spain, Vox Amadeus, American Classical Orchestra). Together with fellow baroque oboist Sarah Davol, she is a founding member of the ensemble Sarabande, and was formerly a member of the crossover group Ensemble Galilei, combining early performance practice with Celtic folk music traditions. Oboe by Harry Vas Dias (Decatur, Ga., 2007), after Nicolas Hotteterre (Paris, c. 1720); recorder by Ralf Netsch (Schleiz, Germany, 2002), after Jacob Denner (Nuremberg, early 18th century) Bill Sherfey came to the Washington area from St. Paul, Minnesota, where he regularly returns to play bassoon and recorder with the Lyra Baroque Orchestra and the Minnesota Bach Society, in addition to appearing with period-instrument ensembles in Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond. While living in Vienna in the mid-1970s, Bill studied recorder with Hans Maria Kneihs and organ with Herbert Tachezi, and subsequently returned to study baroque bassoon with Eleanor Froelich. Bassoon by Guntram Wolf (Kronach, Germany, 2006), after an anonymous German instrument (marked “HKICW,” c. 1700); recorder by Thomas Prescott (Lyme, N.H., 1996), after Peter Bressan (London, c. 1720) Thomas MacCracken performs in the Washington area on historical keyboard instruments (harpsichord, fortepiano, and continuo organ) as well as recorder and baroque flute, with groups including the Washington Bach Consort, Bach Sinfonia, Washington Kantorei, and Ensemble Gaudior. While earning a doctorate in musicology at the University of Chicago he was active as an early-music performer in that city and has been a founding member of several ensembles both there and since moving to Virginia in 1985. Flute by John Gallagher (Elkins, West Virginia, 2008), after August Grenser (Dresden, Germany, c. 1760); harpsichord by Willard Martin (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1981), after Nicolas Blanchet (Paris, c. 1715)