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The Deller Consort

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It would be difficult to overstate the role of the Deller Consort in the early music revival, particularly that of the English repertoire, though it has also enjoyed great success in Italian music. Founded by countertenor Alfred Deller in 1948, it was instrumental in popularizing not only early music, but authentic performance practices. In many ways, it set the standard for the plethora of ensembles that started after it had prepared the ground. Deller was the twentieth century’s first celebrity countertenor and just beginning his own career when he founded the ensemble almost out of necessity. At that time, there were almost no early music groups and certainly no renowned ones. Under his leadership, the ensemble quickly gained popular and critical acclaim, first in England, then internationally. It soon expanded its repertoire to nearly every major composer of the late Renaissance and Baroque eras and performed early operas, such as Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, as well as madrigals, songs, and sacred music. Its alumni and guest artists include many of early music’s most illustrious performers, such as Rogers Covey-Crump, Gerald English, Paul Elliott, Leigh Nixon, Dominique Visse, Lynne Dawson, Igor Kipnis, Patricia Clark, Grayston Burgess, Mary Thomas, and Neil Jenkins. In 1964, Deller’s son Mark (also a countertenor) joined the Deller Consort and on his father’s death, became the ensemble’s director.

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