Engaging Washington-area audiences since 1977, the Folger Consort is early music ensemble-in-residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Founding Artistic Directors Robert Eisenstein and Christopher Kendall create programs that offer opportunities to discover and enjoy music from the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque periods. Whether presenting concerts in the ensemble’s intimate home, the Folger’s Elizabethan-styled theater, or in the splendid reaches of Washington National Cathedral, the Folger Consort continues its tradition of bringing internationally noted guest artists to Washington, DC to join in its “early music chamber society.”
Beyond its concert series, the Folger Consort strives to deepen audiences’ understanding and appreciation of early music through seminars, discussions, recordings, radio broadcasts, and unique collaborations with other programs of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Folger Consort has been named Best Classical Chamber Ensemble by the Washington Area Music Awards for the last five years.
Robert Eisenstein, violin, viol, recorder, founding member and program director of the Folger Consort. In addition to his work with the Consort, he is the director of the Five College Early Music Program in western Massachusetts, where he teaches music history, performs regularly on viola da gamba, violin, and medieval fiddle, and coordinates and directs student performances of medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music. He is an active participant in Five College Medieval Studies with a particular interest in the use of computer technology in the service of music.
Eisenstein has performed with many ensembles including the Washington Bach Consort, the Newberry Consort, the National Symphony, Western Wind, and recently at Tanglewood, Amherst Early Music, and other summer festivals. He studied viola da gamba with Judith Davidoff and Richard Taruskin.
Christopher Kendall, lute, vihuela, Renaissance guitar, theorbo, is the founder of the Folger Consort, which emerged as a significant and enduring presence on the DC cultural scene in 1977. Since 2005, he is Dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he has launched a university-wide initiative recognizing the fundamental role of the all the arts in the human condition and in human culture called "Arts on Earth ."
From 1996 to 2005, he was Director of the School of Music at the University of Maryland, during a period of significant institutional growth related to the building of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony from 1987 to 1992 and Director of the Music Division and Tanglewood Institute of the Boston University School for the Arts from 1993 to 1996, Kendall is also Artistic Director, founder and conductor of the 21st Century Consort, new music ensemble-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution.
Kendall has guest conducted many professional orchestras and ensembles from San Francisco to New York, in repertoire from the 18th to the 21st centuries. His recordings can be heard on the Bard, Delos, Nonesuch, Centaur, ASV, Arabesque, Innova, and Smithsonian Collection labels.
Folger Consort recordings are also available for purchase and digital download at iTunes and CDBaby.com