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Alfred Deller & the Deller Consort

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Biography

Alfred Deller CBE (1912-1979) was an English singer and one of the main figures in popularizing the return of the countertenor voice in Renaissance and Baroque music during the 20th Century. He formed the Deller Consort in 1948, a group dedicated to historically informed performance. The group significantly expanded popular notions of the Baroque repertoire, producing high-quality authentic “period performances” of the works of Bach, Handel, Purcell, Dowland, and even folk songs; the membership of the consort changed over the years. It included various baritones and tenors, sopranos April Cantelo and Mary Thomas, and, from 1964, Deller’s son, Mark Deller[1]. (Mr. Deller’s other son, Simon, trained as a music teacher during the 1960s.) In 1972, The Deller Consort performed for the Peabody Mason Concert series in Boston.[4] As well as directing the Consort, Deller also conducted some performances with chamber orchestras.

Lutenist Desmond Dupré performed with him, initially as a guitarist; other accompanists included harpsichordist and musicologist Walter Bergmann. In later years, he worked with lutenist Robert Spencer and harpsichordists Harold Lester and William Christie. His recordings include the lute songs of Dowland, operas by Handel, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, songs and semioperas by Purcell (such as The Fairy Queen), traditional English folk songs, works by Thomas Tallis, and the Bach alto repertoire. He recorded for HMV, Vanguard Classics, and Harmonia Mundi.

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