Elizabeth Kenny Appointed as Director of Performance

The Faculty of Music is delighted to welcome Elizabeth Kenny, one of Europe’s leading lute players, as our new Director of Performance.

Her playing has been described as ‘incandescent’ (Music and Vision), ‘radical’ (The Independent on Sunday) and ‘indecently beautiful’ (Toronto Post). In twenty years of touring she has played with many of the world’s best period instrument groups, including extended spells with Les Arts Florissants and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. 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.

Elizabeth Kenny says:

‘I’m delighted to be joining this remarkable and vibrant musical culture, where history collides daily with new invention and energy.  I’m especially looking forward to the challenge of working with students across disciplines and genres, as they harness their immense intellectual curiosity in their performances. The Faculty and colleges house an extraordinary range of inspirational figures working together to encourage students to realise their ambitions on a daily basis. I’m looking forward to welcoming international artists to this mix, and to continuing to build links between the University and the wider Oxford community.’

In 2011 Elizabeth Kenny 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 its innovative and improvisatory approach to seventeenth-century music.  She continues to devise and direct theatrically-inspired programmes in other contexts, such as Le Malade Imaginaire, and ARestoration Tempest, for the OAE. She was one of the artistic advisory team for the York Early Music Festival, 2011–14, and returned to York in 2016 with Theatre of the Ayre as judge for the National Centre for Early Music’s Young Composers’ Award, as part of a growing commitment to new work for lute and theorbo.  She has given premiere performances of solo and chamber pieces by James MacMillan, Benjamin Oliver, Heiner Goebbels and Rachel Stott.

Elizabeth Kenny taught for two years at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin, was Professor of Musical Performance at Southampton University 2004–18, and has been Professor of Lute at the Royal Academy of Music since 1999.

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.