Elizabeth Kenny is one of Europe’s leading lute players. Her playing has been described as “incandescent” (Music and Vision), “radical” (The Independent) and “indecently beautiful” (Toronto Post). In twenty years of touring she has played with many of the world’s best period instrument groups and experienced many different approaches to music making. She has an extensive discography of collaborations with 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 Elizabeth was one of three shortlisted nominees for the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards in the Best Instrumentalist category. In 2007 she founded her group Theatre of the Ayre, its focus on seventeenth century vocal music with an improvisational character. The group’s recent CD release, The Masque of Moments – their debut recording for Linn – was named ‘Disc of the Week’ on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review. Elizabeth also devised and directed Le Malade Imaginaire and A Restoration Tempest for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. She was one of the artistic advisory team for the York Early Music Festival from 2011-14. She returned to York in 2016 as a judge for the National Centre for Early Music’s Young Composers’ Award, as part of a growing commitment to enlarging the repertoire for the lute with new work.
Elizabeth also appears alongside Ian Bostridge on Warner Classic’s Shakespeare Songs, which won a 2017 Grammy Award for ‘Best Classical Solo Vocal Album’.
She has given premiere performances of solo and chamber pieces by James MacMillan, Benjamin Oliver, Heiner Goebbels and Rachel Stott. In June 2019 she premieres Nico Muhly’s Berceuse for solo theorbo, which was written for her in 2018, and features on her forthcoming CD of theorbo music for Linn records.
Elizabeth taught for two years at the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin, is professor of Lute at the Royal Academy of Music, and was Professor of Musical Performance and Head of Early Music at Southampton University. She guest-edited a Dowland-themed issue of Early Music to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the composer’s birth in 2013, and is the author of occasional articles on seventeenth century performance. She is currently Director of Performance at Oxford University.