Ensemble Tramontana

Ensemble Tramontana  specialise in the music of medieval and Renaissance Europe. 'Tramontana' is the name of a northern wind that sweeps across Europe, through the French and Spanish Pyrenees and the Italian Alps, before reaching the Mediterranean Sea. According to local legends, the howling wind, bitterly cold, dry and relentless, has the power to induce madness. The word itself means 'across the mountains' and was used to refer to the northern direction, but also to anything or anyone strange or foreign. From as early as the late 13th century, it was also an alternative name for the North Star, a pivotal navigation aid of the times.
Like the tramontana winds, the music we perform has travelled across Europe, stirring emotions. While far-ranging changes in artistic style and worldview occurred, the medieval and Renaissance periods as a whole were a time of revival, discovery, and growth. It was the era of courtly love, the Crusades, trade routes and of course Columbus’ epic voyage of 1492. It was a time of exploration, of fundamental social change, of revival of ancient knowledge coupled with discovery of new lands and wonders--and of much beautiful art and music. We relish connecting seemingly random elements within the historical and social context of the music, then building on them to create a sense of the people of this time and place. We use viols, recorders, harps, percussion, and voices to experiment with blending timbres to create a soundworld which perfectly evokes the spirit of the times.

Most of our composers, some of the characters in our songs, and all of our performers have travelled. The members of our ensemble each came from elsewhere (some from other countries) to study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. As former or current postgraduates of the Early Music Department there, we have benefitted from instruction from specialists including Belinda Sykes, Alison Crum, Philip Thorby, and Timothy Travers-Brown. On 23 March 2011, we won the conservatoire's Early Music Competition

*also Tramontane, Tramuntana, and other variations in different Mediterranean languages

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