Theatre of the Ayre

Early Music Ensemble

"Attracting audiences with the familiar is a well-worn tactic, but the Theatre of the Ayre likes to do things differently. Its weapons: a freshness of approach and a quasi-improvisatory freedom of delivery."

The Financial Times

"Gloriously skillful and varied in texture…a sense of genuinely collective, community music-making that gives this recording such personality and charm."

Gramophone Magazine

"Theatre of the Ayre, compellingly dramatizing the French Baroque in vocal and instrumental prowess."

The Times

Theatre of the Ayre is Elizabeth Kenny’s platform for bringing dramatically-minded singers and players together to create inspirational programmes of seventeenth century music.

Their first project, The Masque of Moments, drew on research undertaken during Kenny’s AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Southampton, and toured England, Belgium and Germany in 2007-8, being broadcast in all three countries. They followed this with a tour of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, a live recording of which was released on the Wigmore Live label in January 2011.

Several smaller-scale projects (Ayres and Dialogues, Dowland; Anniversary Collection and Setting the Baa High: English pastoral) toured the UK in 2013, as well as a unique collaboration with members of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: Lutes&Ukes. Its education arm, Youths Lutes and Ukes involved the players teaching and performing with a total of 360 children in London and York.

Theatre of the Ayre won a Follow-on-Funding award from the AHRC which enabled a second Lutes&Ukes tour, The Wolves of St Elvis. Their latest recording, for Linn records The Masque of Moments has converted surprising numbers of critics and audiences to the glories of the English Masque.

In 2016, Theatre of the Ayre branched out into new music, as the judges of the National Centre for Early Music’s Young Composers’ Award, championing new settings of Shakespeare and Carol-Anne Duffy for voices and lute.

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