Described as “pure and radiant” (Gramophone), “immensely impressive” (Early Music Review), and “rich, full-voiced, and perfectly blended” (Early Music America), the Byrd Ensemble is garnering international acclaim 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 has toured across the United States, presenting concerts for the Gotham Early Music Scene in New York with Peter Phillips (director of the Tallis Scholars) and the Boston Early Music Fringe Series. In 2014, the Byrd Ensemble was one of sixteen groups—the only ensemble from the United States—chosen to sing at the London International A Cappella Choir Competition and worked with Peter Phillips, Mark Williams, and John Rutter, who described the ensemble as “a fine group that has achieved an enviable standard of tuning, blend, and ensemble.” The group presents an annual subscription series at St. James Cathedral in Seattle and regularly performs in Portland, Oregon. The Byrd Ensemble is a nonprofit organization.
The Byrd Ensemble became part of the Scribe Records label in 2011 and has since produced six records—four of which feature Renaissance polyphony— and 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 appeared in the Gramophone Magazine in 2014 and recently in French film L'apparition (2018).
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR MARKDAVIN OBENZA has dedicated his career to music. In addition to the Byrd Ensemble, Markdavin is Director and founder of Seattle-based chamber choir Radiance, an ensemble that performs American choral music, and Producer for Scribe Records, an independent record label. He is an active freelance singer who has performed with the Byrd Ensemble, Tudor Choir, Early Music Vancouver, and members of the Tallis Scholars. He is the Director of Choral Music at Trinity Parish Church in Seattle, WA and teaches choir at South Seattle College.
2018-2019 CORE SINGERS
Sarra Sharif Doyle