BIOS: About the Performers
One of the few professional lutesong duos in the United States, Mignarda's fresh and engaging approach to historical music has set a new standard for interpretation, authenticity and musicianship. Based in rural upstate NY, they have produced eight critically-acclaimed CDs and a series of editions of historical music for voice and lute.
Reviewers have described their music as "radiant", "bewitching". and "laden with elegance". The Lute Society (UK) has called Rota Fortuna "essential listening", and Au pres de vous their "lute disk of the year". Divine Amarillis, their recording of French music from the early 17th century, was selected from a pool of 42,000 recordings for the award of first place for Best Album in the 2009 Just Plain Folks awards. Four of their recordings have been featured on Public Radio's internationally syndicated "Millennium of Music", hosted by Robert Aubrey Davis. Several have been selected as Choice CDs by Cleveland, Ohio's mainstream classical radio station WCLV. All are included among CDBaby's top 40 best-selling classical CDs.
Mezzo soprano Donna Stewart apprenticed with a schola cantorum for more than a decade, singing Gregorian chant and polyphony from the middle ages onward in its liturgical context. Drawing on this unique experience, she has developed an understanding of the use and form of historical sacred music, which lies at the very heart of early music. Known for her warm and crystalline delivery of text, Stewart has performed and recorded on the Koch and Onda labels with Apollo’s Fire, Cleveland’s renowned baroque orchestra, and is recognized as having the ideal voice for renaissance lute song and crossover folk styles.
Together, the duo specialize in performing music that resides in the grey zone between folk and art music, with interpretations that follow the renaissance ideal of 'moving the passions' of the listener.
The Mignarda duo is unique in that their musical background mirrors that of the typical musician of the Renaissance: They bring the music to life because they live the music. Capturing the nuance and intricacy of early music with warmth and flair, Mignarda’s performances remind 21st century audiences that at one time this was pop music.