Described as “pure and radiant” (Gramophone), “immensely impressive” (Early Music Review), and “rich, full-voiced, and perfectly blended” (Early Music America), the Byrd Ensemble has been internationally acclaimed for its performances and recordings of chamber vocal music, particularly Renaissance polyphony. The Byrd Ensemble, directed by Markdavin Obenza, is a Seattle-based professional ensemble made up of 10 to 12 singers.
Since 2004, the ensemble has performed in the greater Seattle area and toured across the United States, presenting concerts for the Gotham Early Music Scene in New York with Peter Phillips (director of the Tallis Scholars), the Boston Early Music Fringe Series, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Byrd Ensemble participated in the London International A Cappella Choir Competition, where John Rutter described the ensemble as “a fine group that has achieved an enviable standard of tuning, blend, and ensemble.”
The Byrd Ensemble became part of the Scribe Records label in 2011 and has since produced six records which have been reviewed by major early music publications: Early Music America, Gramophone, and Early Music Review. Our Lady: Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks (2011) featured reconstructions by musicologist Nick Sandon of music by lesser-known English Renaissance composers—Pasche, Merbecke, and Ludford—and included two world-premiere recordings. In the Company of William Byrd (2012), Music for the Tudors (2015), and Music of the Renaissance: Italy, England & France (2016) featured more mainstream Renaissance composers Tallis, Sheppard, Byrd, and White. The Byrd Ensemble's recording of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt was reviewed in the Gramophone Magazine in 2014 and was used in the French film L'apparition (2018).
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MARKDAVIN OBENZA is a choral director, recording producer, singer, and composer. He is also the director of Seattle-based choral ensemble Radiance, specializing in the performance of American choral music, and is the Director of Choral Activities at Trinity Parish Church in Seattle, WA. As a producer for independent record label Scribe Records, Markdavin has produced CD recordings for over 40 choirs and soloists, of which several have been reviewed in Gramophone, Early Music America, Early Music Review, and Fanfare. Markdavin has also produced and directed a number of virtual choirs, including Caroline Shaw's and the swallow, which was featured on Modern Choral Masterworks, broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has also produced "concertmentaries" and musical broadcasts in collaboration with various music ensembles and artists during the pandemic, including Shaker Spirituals in Maine (2021) for the Library of Congress American Folklife Center, featuring composer Kevin Siegfried and Radiance.