The Dowland Project & John Potter

Biography The Dowland Project & John Potter

John Potter's
musical collaborators include lutenist Ariel Abramovich, the Dowland Project, Red Byrd, the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and the composer Ambrose Field. He is a member of the German ensemble The Sound & The Fury, and with fellow tenor Christopher O’Gorman is a part of the Hyperion/University of Southampton Conductus Project. A writer and scholar as well as a singer, he has published four books on singing and is a former British Library Edison Fellow. He is Reader Emeritus in Music at the University of York, having left the university in 2010 to focus on his portfolio of freelance activities.

John's eclectic performing experience has ranged from first performances of works by Berio, Stockhausen, James Dillon and Michael Finnissy to backing vocals for Manfred Mann, Mike Oldfield and The Who (among others). Red Byrd, the group he founded with bass Richard Wistreich, has recorded music as diverse as Monteverdi (both straight and with electric guitars), Leonin (3 albums for Hyperion) and the Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones (for Factory Records). He was a major contributor to the Hilliard Ensemble’s Officium project (for which he has five gold discs), and subsequently developed many of the ideas in The Dowland Project’s four albums for ECM; he also produced the first three ECM albums by the Scandinavian trio mediaeval.

Current projects include new music for voices & vihuelas by Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, and Southampton University's Conductus Project. This exploration of 12th/13th century music consists of three albums for Hyperion with fellow tenors Christopher O'Gorman and Rogers Covey-Crump, and a live programme with a film by Michael Lynch). His lute song repertoire with Ariel Abramovich ranges from Thomas Ford to Benedetto Ferrari and beyond, and includes programmes of Dowland and Campion. He is also very busy as an ensemble coach.

The Dowland Project
began as an artistic collaboration between John Potter and ECM's Manfred Eicher, and was an attempt to re-discover the essence of renaissance song from the point of view of a modern performer. John suggested Dowland and Manfred Eicher proposed augmenting the obligatory early music players with jazz musicians. The first recording for ECM brought together John Surman, Barry Guy, Maya Homburger and Stephen Stubbs and was a Sunday Times Record of the Year. The group made its live debut at the Bremen Musikfest, and has since performed on both sides of the Atlantic including St Patrick's Cathedral New York, the Munich Opera House and the Festival de Musica Visual, Lanzarote. A second album - 'Charming Sleep' took the process a stage further with a similar treatment of English and Italian songs from the post-Dowland generation.

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