Biographies for Concert Programmes

I Fagiolini

Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Ensemble Award, 2005

The name I Fagiolini has been misspelt and mispronounced throughout the world.  Grounded in the classics of Renaissance and twentieth-century vocal repertoire, the group is renowned for its innovative staged productions of Renaissance and Baroque music theatre works.  Recognition for this came in 2005 with the prestigious award of the Ensemble Prize from the Royal Philharmonic Society.  It has staged Handel with masks, Purcell with puppets, madrigal comedies with more masks 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. The Birds followed in 2005, a new opera for vocal ensemble and speaker by Ed Hughes.  In 2006 I Fagiolini toured its 1990s South African collaboration Simunye and in 2009 launched Tallis in Wonderland, a new way of hearing polyphony utilising both live and recorded vocals and lighting. In 2011 the ensemble premiered a new commission from Orlando Gough The Spell, and a new semi-staged collaboration with the English Concert for Purcell’s King Arthur.

2011 also saw the group’s 25th anniversary, celebrated with a European tour, and the hugely successful release on Decca of a lavish world première recording of Striggio’s 40-part mass (until recently lost).  The recording stayed at the top of the specialist classical chart for nearly four months and the live version will tour European festivals in 2012. A similar ambitious recording will be released on Decca in 2012 as well as performances for BBC Radio 3, Wigmore Hall and the Perth Festival, Australia.  In Perth I Fagiolini will collaborate with Australian circus company Circa, bringing the production to the UK as part of the cultural olympiad.

I Fagiolini has recorded 19 CDs and two DVDs and given live performances around the world, from BBC Proms and the Lincoln Center Festival to the Far East and Africa. Find out more at

Robert Hollingworth

Robert Hollingworth founded the solo-voice ensemble I Fagiolini in 1986. With them he has recorded 18 CDs and 2 DVDs, toured internationally and undertaken many innovative productions such as Simunye, The Full Monteverdi and Tallis in Wonderland. The group was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Ensemble Award in 2005. He has also directed other ensembles, notably the Academy of Ancient Music, English Concert, BBC Concert Orchestra, Accentus (France) NDR Choir (Germany) and Netherlands Chamber Choir. Engagements for 2011-2012 include conducting the BBC Singers for the BBC Proms, Handel Judas Maccabaeus for Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal, Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, a tour of Striggio, collaborations with Australian circus group Circa and a project with Opera North. In 2004 Robert directed a ground-breaking new music-theatre project (Faust) set in startling venues such as an Amsterdam vast ship-building yard and a disused station. In Holland he directed Opera Zuid’s underground production of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. Robert founded the spectacular Islington Winter Music Festival, writes and presents programmes for BBC Radio, notably ‘The Early Music Show’ and ‘Discovering Music’. He is a judge on the UK’s Choir of the Year and has worked on a number of films including Quills. From 2006-9 he was an artistic advisor to the York Early Music Festival and since then has advised the Trigonale Festival, Austria. In 2011, his world première recording of Striggio’s (until recently) lost Mass in 40 Parts was released on Decca with an all-star UK line-up, remaining at the top of the specialist classical chart for nearly four months. Monteverdi and Monty Python are equal influences.

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