The Wildwood Consort

Wildwood Consort

Performing in the 2012 Green Show Friday, June 15.

Renaissance and baroque music performed on period instruments

Leslie Hirsch, baroque violin, was a member of the Portland Baroque Orchestra from 1988-1999, as a performer of both violin and viola. Leslie studied with Jaap Schroeder and Monica Huggett while a musician in the PBO. Her initial training in baroque music performance was from Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichordist and director of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival. Leslie was a violinist in this Santa Cruz Baroque ensemble from 1979-1988 before moving to Portland.

Leslie played classical violin from 1973-1974 in the San Diego Symphony, and from 1968-1973 with the Atlanta Symphony, under the direction of Robert Shaw. Leslie holds a Masters of Music degree from Ball State University and a B.F.A. from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. In July, 2010 Leslie retired from 10 years of teaching strings to students of the Reynolds School District in Portland.

Portland-based soprano Melanie Downie Robinson is best known for her soaring, crystalline sound and engaging stage presence. Specializing in early music, Mel is active around the country as a soloist/recitalist and is a core member of Baroque chamber ensemble the Wildwood Consort. She has appeared as a Guest Artist with such groups as the Portland Bach Cantata Choir, the Columbia Chorale of Oregon and the Bach Association of Cincinnati.

A veritable disciple of J.S. Bach, Mel has performed the St. Matthew Passion at Carnegie Hall under Helmuth Rilling and the St. John Passion with Monica Huggett, Portland Baroque Orchestra and Les Voix Baroques. Additionally, she is known for her excellent command of the French language and style, captivating audiences with her intimate, sensual and nuanced interpretations of French repertoire from the Baroque through the present day. Also in high demand for small ensemble work, Mel is a founding member of the Sometime Quartet and has performed and recorded with The Julians, Cappella Romana, Portland Vocal Consort, Resonance Ensemble, Oregon Catholic Press and the prestigious Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati. She is well-versed in Gregorian chant and has served as cantor and soloist with Cantores in Ecclesia and the Schola Cantorum of Holy Rosary Church. She performs regularly in the annual William Byrd Festival under the direction of Richard Marlow.

Ms. Downie Robinson is a student of Nancy Zylstra in Seattle and has studied at the Accademia d'Amore (Baroque opera) with Stephen Stubbs, and the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin. She has a Bachelors Degree in Vocal Performance from DePauw University in Indiana.

Michael Wilhite began his musical training on the classical guitar, studying under Reed Gilchrist, Howard Heitmeyer, Joseph Trotter and pianist Conrad Bruderer. An interest in early music led him to the lute, and to performance with the Renaissance ensemble The Guidonian Hand.

At that time Mr. Wilhite began the practice of building many of the instruments he plays. Teachers and influences in luthiery include Sidney Greenstein, Albert Fischer, Robert Lundberg and Jesse Wells.
In recent years he adopted the viola da gamba with training from Tim Scott, Joanna Blendulf and Craig Trompeter. Locally he has collaborated with numerous singers and instrumentalists, and appeared with groups including Cantores in Ecclesia, Urban Baroque and the William Byrd Festival. Mr. Wilhite founded the Wildwood Consort in 2008 and serves as its Artistic Director.

For the Wildwood Consort, Mr. Wilhite focuses on continuo playing, currently on a 13-course "swan-neck" archlute in G after J.C. Hoffman, and a 14-course theorbo after Beuchenberg, fitted as a bass lute in D. He plays a 6-string English viol after Barak Norman and has a 7-string French viol after Michel Colichon on the workbench.

The Wildwood Consort on Community: Wildwood Consort's community is those who are curious about the rich legacy and diverse traditions of music in Western culture.  Our place is that of a treasure hunter, seeking out and bringing to life musical gems of the past to be enjoyed anew by modern audiences.

Our community includes concert-goers, but extends to those interested in other arts, culture and history, who may find elements in our music that help to contextualize and enrich their own experience.  Many OSF theater-goers, for example, appreciate the music of William Byrd or John Dowland as a window into the world of William Shakespeare.