MUSIC OF THE SPHERES
Jeanne Johnson, Baroque violin
Joanna Blendulf, Baroque cello & viola da gamba
Yuko Tanaka, harpsichord & fortepiano
“…the music of the universe is especially to be studied in the combining of the elements and the variety of the seasons which are observed in the heavens. Now unless a certain harmony united the differences and contrary powers of the four elements, how could they form a single mechanism? All this diversity produces the variety of seasons and fruits, and thereby makes the year a unity. If you could imagine any one of the factors removed, all would perish, nor, so to speak, would they retain a vestige of consonance… For what winter binds, spring releases, summer heats, autumn ripens; and the seasons in turn bring forth their own fruits or help the others to bring forth theirs.” — Roman statesman, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist Anicius Boethius (c. 480-524)
MUSIC OF THE SPHERES, formed in 2000, has performed across the United States and abroad, including concerts at the 2002 Berkeley Early Music Festival main stage, the 2002 Bloomington Early Music Festival, the 2005 and 2013 San Francisco Early Music Society Series, and the 2010 Indianapolis Early Music Series. Their music can be heard around the world, from Brazil to Indonesia, Sweden to Turkey. The group made its European debut at the 2006 Tage Alter Musik Festival in Regensburg, Germany, and was featured in the European chamber music magazine Ensemble. In 2007, they performed on The Frick Collection Series in New York, with a New York Times review and a WNYC broadcast of their concert and interview. Music of the Spheres has been broadcast on Performance Today, Harmonia, and Sunday Baroque, and their recordings can be found on the Magnatune label, iTunes, and most Internet music sites. Music of the Spheres is a member of Early Music America’s Touring Artists Roster.
Music of the Spheres believes that music exists to captivate the imagination, stir memories, and evoke intensely personal emotions in both listener and performer alike, and they desire to bring a wider audience to classical music through performances which focus on these aspects. They strive to create lively, fun, informative performances, and are available for concerts, series, festivals, recordings and advanced master classes.
As a child, JEANNE JOHNSON loved to sit under the piano in the magnificent flood of sound as her mother practiced. At age five, she started both violin and piano. She made her solo violin debut with orchestra at 11, and won first place in the Milwaukee Symphony Youth Soloist Competition at 16. Her love of music was fanned by three wonderful summers at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, and she went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Performance with Honors from Indiana University, where she studied with James Buswell and Stanley Ritchie and participated in the Early Music Institute. She received her Master’s Degree with Distinction in Performance and Academics from New England Conservatory, where she served as James Buswell’s graduate assistant. She pursued further studies in summer programs at the Sarasota Music Festival, the Bach Aria Festival and the Banff Centre.
Today Jeanne is a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician on both Baroque and modern violin. Her performances on series, tours, festivals and recordings in the United States and abroad have been hailed as “stunningly effusive,” and “delivered with gusto,” resulting in National Public Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and local broadcasts. A winner of an Early Music America Professional Development Award in 2002, Jeanne has been featured on several Harmonia and Performance Today broadcasts, and gave a recital on the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments series in 2005. Jeanne has been concertmaster for the Washington Bach Consort and the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, and has toured, performed and recorded with many groups including Tafelmusik, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Chatham Baroque, Musica nel Chiostro in Tuscany, Portland Baroque, Bloomington Baroque, Brandywine Baroque, the Magnolia Baroque Festival, the Carmel Bach Festival, Asheville Baroque (including a concert at the 2018 Viola da Gamba Society Conclave), North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, Back Akademie Charlotte Festival, Atlanta Symphony, Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, Charleston Symphony and Chattanooga Symphonie. In 2016, Centaur Records released Jeanne’s recordings of violin works by Johann Jakob Walther and Jean-Fery Rebel with Eco dell’Anima (with Brent Wissick, gamba; Peter Marshall, harpsichord).
A diverse performer, Jeanne has also toured with Vince Gill and Amy Grant, and performed with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, a crossover, multi-style orchestra with the most new music commissions in the U.S. The orchestra has performed and recorded with the Turtle Island String Quartet and John Jorgenson, spanning styles from country to tango to the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt. She has also served on the faculty of Clayton State University as orchestra director, violin and viola faculty and chamber music coach.
She has worked as a classical radio announcer, costumed historic interpreter, and Renaissance festival and Shakespeare company character and musician. She also acts, writes and paints and is an avid old movie fan.
JOANNA BLENDULF has performed as soloist and continuo player in leading period instrument ensembles throughout the United States. Ms. Blendulf holds performance degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Indiana University, where she studied with Stanley Ritchie, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi and Alan Harris. In 1998, she was awarded the prestigious Performer’s Certificate for her accomplishments on Baroque cello from Indiana University. Ms. Blendulf was principal cellist of The New World Symphony under Michael Tilson-Thomas and has also performed with the Atlanta Symphony. As an early music specialist, she has taught at the University of Oregon as an adjunct professor of musicology and at viola da gamba workshops across the country. She currently performs with the Portland, Seattle and Indianapolis Baroque Orchestras, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra and American Bach Soloists. Ms. Blendulf is an active chamber musician, performing and touring with the Catacoustic Consort, Early Music Vancouver, Ensemble Mirable, Reconstruction, the Streicher Trio and Wildcat Viols. Her award-winning recording of the complete cello sonatas of Jean Zewalt Triemer with Ensemble Mirable can be found on the Magnatune label. Ms. Blendulf’s summer engagements have included performances at the Bloomington, Boston and Berkeley Early Music Festivals and the Aspen Music Festival, as well as the Carmel and Oregon Bach Festivals, where she was the viola da gamba soloist. She is on the faculty of the Indiana University Early Music Institute.
YUKO TANAKA, a native of Tokyo, Japan, is active as a soloist and ensemble player. She is a soloist at the Carmel Bach Festival and has performed at the Tage Alter Musik Rengensburg (Germany), Istanbul International Music Festival, Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, Bloomington Early Music Festival, and in broadcast events for National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She performs with numerous ensembles including Musica Pacifica, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Philharmonia Baroque Chambers Players, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and the The Women’s Philharmonic. Yuko has given master classes and lectures at several universities, including San Jose State University and Stetson University (DeLand, Florida). Yuko received a doctorate in early music from Stanford University and has studied with Margaret Fabrizio at Stanford University, Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam, and Ketil Haugsand in Oslo, Norway. She has recorded for Koch International and Delos International.