Elizabeth Kenny is one of Europe’s leading lute players. Her playing has been described as “incandescent” (Music and Vision), “radical” (The Independent on Sunday) and “indecently beautiful” (Toronto Post). She may be the only lute player to reach a million views on YouTube, for her “Introduction to the Baroque Theorbo”, uploaded in January 2019.
She has an extensive discography of collaborations with chamber ensembles across Europe and the USA, and her own repertoire interests have led to critically acclaimed recordings of solo music from the ML Lute Book, and songs by Lawes, Purcell and Dowland. In 2011 she was one of three shortlisted nominees for the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards in the best instrumentalist category. In 2007 she founded Theatre of the Ayre, whose various touring projects have sealed a reputation for an innovative and improvisatory approach to seventeenth-century music. Their collaboration with members of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Lutes&Ukes, converted surprising numbers of people to the genre-crashing possibilities of plucked instruments in concerts across the UK and Germany, and the education wing Youths, Lutes&Ukes brought together 300 ukulele-wielding children in schools in York and London. Theatre of the Ayres’s 2017 recording The Masque of Momentsgained many plaudits for revealing the many-coloured riches of seventeenth century masque music:
Attracting audiences with the familiar is a well-worn tactic, but the Theatre of the Ayre likes to do things differently… Its weapons: a freshness of approach and a quasi-improvisatory freedom of delivery. – Financial Times