Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Ensemble Award, 2005
Grounded in the classics of Renaissance and Twentieth-century vocal repertoire, I Fagiolini is renowned for its innovative and often staged productions of this music. I Fagiolini has staged Handel with masks, Purcell with puppets, and in 2004 premiered The Full Monteverdi, a dramatised account of the composer’s Fourth Book of Madrigals (1603) by John La Bouchardière, which has since been turned into a highly successful film, shown all over the world. In 2006 I Fagiolini toured its 1990s South African collaboration Simunye and in 2009 created Tallis in Wonderland, a new way of hearing polyphony with live and recorded voices.
In 2011, I Fagiolini celebrated its 25th anniversary with a commission from Orlando Gough, The Spell, a new semi-staged production of Purcell King Arthur with the English Concert, and the hugely successful world premiere recording of Striggio Mass in 40 Parts on Decca. The recording stayed at the top of the specialist classical chart for nearly four months and won the 2011 Gramophone Early Music Award and a Diapason d’or de l’année.
2012 featured a tour of Striggio Mass in 40 parts, the group’s Royal Albert Hall Proms debut and the release of 1612 Italian Vespers (Gramophone CD of the Month), premiering multi-choir music by Viadana and reconstructing a ‘lost’ Gabrieli Magnificat. It also saw the launch of yet another unlikely collaboration, How Like An Angel (HLAA), this time with Australian contemporary circus company Circa. HLAA premiered in February 2012 as part of the Perth International Arts Festival and toured the UK as part of the London 2012 returning in 2013 with 22 sell-out shows. I Fagiolini closed the year with a new production for Opera North of David Lang The Little Match Girl Passion. 2014-15 included debuts at the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (Shakespeare’s Globe), Carnegie Hall and I Fagiolini’s first tour of Australia with Musica Viva, which included a new commission by Andrew Schultz and Timothy Knapman.
I Fagiolini’s most recent immersive theatre project, Betrayal: a polyphonic crime drama, premiered at the Barbican in May 2015. Again conceived by John La Bouchardière, this immersive theatre work with dancers and singers was set in ‘crime scenes’ and used the unsettling music of Carlo Gesualdo.
Forthcoming projects and performances include Carnivale Veneziano (Monteverdi to Monty Python), further performances of Betrayal and How Like An Angel, the DVD release of Draw on Sweet Night (a film and CD about John Wilbye), three programmes celebrating Monteverdi’s 450th anniversary (L’Orfeo, 1610 Vespers and Flaming Heart), BBC broadcasts, Wigmore Hall and performances across Europe and the USA.
I Fagiolini’s next recording project for Decca, Amuse-Bouche, includes the world premiere of Jean Françaix’s Ode a la Gastronomie and an arrangement for piano and voices by Roderick Williams of the slow movement of the Adagio from Ravel Piano Concerto in G. The CD will be released in Spring 2016 and toured in Summer 2016.
The name I Fagiolini continues to be misspelt and mispronounced wherever it goes from Africa to Australia. I Fagiolini has recorded 20 CDs and four DVDs and is delighted to be Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of York
Robert has spent much of his life looking for ways to share his love of Renaissance and 20th/21st century music, often by creating ground-breaking projects which present music to audiences in innovative ways. He founded I Fagiolini in 1986; with them he has presented their signature projects including Simunye, The Full Monteverdi, Tallis in Wonderland, How Like An Angel (with Australian contemporary circus group Circa) and the immersive theatre project Betrayal: a polyphonic crime drama (for singers and dancers based on the music of Gesualdo). Betrayal was premièred by the Barbican in May 2015 to audience and critical acclaim.
Robert has directed the English Concert (Purcell) and the Academy of Ancient Music (Bach), Accentus (France), Norddeutscher Rundfunk Chor, Nederlands Kamerkoor, Narodowe Forum Muzyki Wroclaw in Handel Acis & Galatea and Symphonieorchester Wuppertal (Judas Maccabeus). Robert will conduct the Danish National Vocal Ensemble in a new conceptual project in January 2016. In autumn 2015 he directs Monteverdi L’Orfeo in Venice.
Robert has written and presented for BBC Radio 3 (CD Review, The Early Music Show, The Choir and Discovering Music). In 2010 he delivered the Lufthansa Lecture entitled ‘Monteverdi the Modern Man’ and spoke at the REMA conference. Robert has worked on a number of films including Quills (2000). Draw on Sweet Night (a film about Tudor composer John Wilbye) will be released in autumn 2015. In 2011, his world première recording of Striggio Mass in 40 Parts (the work until recently lost) was released on Decca with an all-star UK line-up, remaining at the top of the specialist classical chart for nearly four months and winning the 2011 Gramophone Early Music Award and a Diapason d’or de l’année. His latest recording, 1612 Italian Vespers, was released on Decca in June 2012 and was chosen as Gramophone CD of the month; it was performed in the 2012 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. Robert arranged the music for the album Shakespeare: The Sonnets and appeared extensively on BBC TV and radio discussing the disc. His next recording project for Decca, Amuse-Bouche, includes the world première of Jean Françaix Ode a la Gastronomie and an arrangement for piano and voices by Roderick Williams of the slow movement of the Adagio from Ravel Piano Concerto in G. The CD will be released in spring 2016 and tour in summer 2016.
Robert gives masterclasses and residencies throughout Europe. He ran a conducting masterclass and lecture for the American Choral Directors’ Association at their 2012 conference. Robert is a guest director & speaker at the Association of British Choral Directors’ 30th annual convention this summer. He has set-up a new MA in solo-voice-ensemble singing at the University of York where he is a Reader in Music.