Early Music Ensemble Catherine King, mezzo-soprano William Lyons, Renaissance flute Susanna Pell, viol Jacob Heringman, lute, viol

Tour Dates

Taking its name from a Medieval form of French poetry and song, the British Early Music ensemble Virelai breathes life into neglected gems from the late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance.  Comprising Catherine King, mezzo-soprano, William Lyons, renaissance flute, Susanna Pell, viol, and Jacob Heringman, lute and viol, Virelai can be heard in Ireland on a Music Network tour from April 2 – 11, 2005.  Virelai’s Irish programme will consist of works by John Dowland as well as Renaissance poetry in new musical settings from its latest CD Sad Steps—a marriage of traditional rhythms and melodies with modern tonality that creates startling and often breathtakingly beautiful results.  The members of Virelai rank among the world’s most distinguished performers and teachers of Early Music, and all perform and record as soloists and as members of leading ensembles including The Dufay Collective, Fretwork, Gothic Voices and Musicians of the Globe.  Music Network tours are sponsored by the Arts Council and presented in association with the Irish Times and with RTÉ lyric fm.  Further information from

About Virelai 

Virelai was founded in 1991 by leading Early Music performers with a desire to illuminate neglected repertoire of the late middle ages and early renaissance, a fascination of the juxtaposition of old and new, and in the spirit of exploration and creativity.  Virelai made its Wigmore Hall debut in 1993, and has since performed in Prague Castle, the Manchester Early Music Series, the Magenta Music Festival, on the Dutch and British Early Music Networks, and in broadcasts of both old and new music for the BBC.  Their diverse make-up lends itself to a variety of repertoire, including countless combinations of duos, trios and quartets.

Virelai’s debut recording, Renaissance Love Songs, was a BBC Music Magazine cover mount CD.  This attracted the attention of Virgin Classics, for whom Virelai went on to make a series of highly-acclaimed CDs – Ther is no Rose: Renaissance music for the Christmas season; Chansons Nouvelles, devoted to the marvellous but neglected repertoire of early 16th century Parisian chansons and dances; and Treasures from my minde: Songs and instrumental pieces by John Dowland, which was chosen by Gramophone magazine as one of the Best CDs of 1999.

Virelai has championed the music of today with several notable commissions. Their latest project, involving new works set to Renaissance poetry by composers Andrew Ager, Jonathan Chennette, Fabrice Fitch, Gail Gillespie, Alastair Greig, Bryan Johanson, Andrew Keeling, Elizabeth Liddle and David Stoll, has resulted in the CD, Sad Steps, on the Riverrun label.  For the BBC, Virelai has recorded programmes of Dufay chansons, and of contemporary music by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Malcolm Bruno.

About the Members of Virelai 

Catherine King’s (mezzo-soprano) versatility lends itself to music of the present day back to the 11th century.  In performance and recordings her repertoire extends from Hildegard von Bingen, through the great oratorios of Handel, Bach and Mozart, Verdi’s Requiem and Elgar’s Music Makers, to 20th century songs by Barber and works written specially for her.  She has performed with such diverse ensembles as Gothic Voices, Taverner Consort, Fretwork, the Nash Ensemble, King’s College Choir, the Academy of Ancient Music and the Philharmonia Orchestra.  Her many recordings appear on the Virgin, Hyperion, Linn and Naxos labels, among others.  Her recording, broadcasting and performing career has taken her to all corners of Europe and to the Americas, but she is always happy to return to her home on the Welsh marshes and her two children.

William Lyons (Renaissance flute) is a founder member of the acclaimed medieval ensemble, the Dufay Collective, with whom he has toured the world and made several critically acclaimed recordings. He has composed music for film and TV and directed music for productions at the International Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.  He performs with such leading period performance ensembles as The Gabrieli Consort, His Majesties Sackbutts and Cornetts and The Orchestra of the Renaissance. William is Professor of Early Woodwind at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

A member of The Dufay Collective and Fretwork, Susanna Pell (viol) has toured world-wide and made many recordings for radio, disc and TV.  She has worked with many leading early music ensembles including the Taverner Consort, the Parley of Instruments, the Purcell Quartet and The King’s Consort.  Susanna studied music at the University of York, and the viola da gamba with Jordi Savall at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.

Jacob Heringman (lute, viol) is one of the world’s foremost lutenists.  Born in America but based in England since 1987, he performs regularly throughout Europe and North and South America, and has also toured Japan.  He appears on over 60 CDs as a soloist, collaborator and ensemble player, with renowned artists such as Barbara Bonney and Michael Chance, and with leading medieval and renaissance ensembles including Fretwork, Musicians of the Globe, The King’s Singers, Virelai and the Dufay Collective. -


SAD STEPS: New Settings of Renaissance Poems

Keeling (b. 1955), text Sir Philip Sidney With how sad steps, O Moon 

Dowland Mr. Bucton's Galliard; Come away, come sweet love; Mr. Thomas Collier his Galiard   

Liddle (b. 1952), text Robert Herrick To Julia

Dowland Captain Digorie Piper his Galliard; Awake, sweet love, thou art returned; The Frog Galliard

Greig (b. 1964), text Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester Songe 17

Fripp/Wetton/Cross/Bruford, arr. Keeling Trio

Dowland Go nightly cares, the enemy to rest

Johanson (b. 1951), text William Shakespeare Orpheus with his lute

Dowland Fantasia

Fitch (b. 1967), text François Rabelais Rondeau de Panurge (Per Serafino Calbarsi I)

Dowland Say Love if ever thou did'st find; Pavan: La Mia Barbara 

Chenette (b. 1954), text Charles Best The pale queen of the silent night

On Tour: Sat 2 April Bray (Mermaid Arts Centre, 8pm), Tues 5 April Dublin (Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle, 8pm), Wed 6 April Navan (St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, 8pm), Thurs 7 Monaghan (Market House, 9pm), Fri 8 April Drogheda (St. Peter’s Church of Ireland, 8pm), Sun 10 April Belmullet (Carne Church, 8pm), Mon 11 April Castlebar (Linenhall Arts Centre, 8pm)

"A performance of poise and expressiveness in a programme of masterpieces."

- Early Music Review