Founded in 1993, Bimbetta is a 5-woman chamber music ensemble (3 sopranos, cellist, and harpsichordist) that performs music of the early Baroque on original instruments using an innovative approach to the stage. Bimbetta's concerts of early music resemble cabaret in their imaginative use of expressive staging, references to American popular culture, women's perspectives, and humor. Bimbetta brings the vivid passions of 17th-century music to life in the 21st century. Bimbetta's five members all have graduate degrees from the leading institute in the field, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University's renowned School of Music.

Acclaimed for superb musicianship and refreshing, irreverent theatricality, Bimbetta has toured nationally and internationally, performing for concert series, universities, clubs, and at major festivals throughout the United States and Europe. Engagements in the 1999-2000 season include concerts and residencies at the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois; the UCLA Center for Performing Arts; the University of Vermont; the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph, Vermont; the Schubert Club in St. Paul, Minnesota; and Early Music Columbus in Ohio. In January 2000 Bimbetta was chosen to perform at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, for the annual Arts Presenters conference in New York City. The ensemble was one of four artists/ensembles selected for the Young Performers Career Advancement seminar sponsored by Classical Connections, a program of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and Chamber Music America.

Educational outreach is fundamental to Bimbetta's mission to widen the audience for 17th-century music, and the ensemble has worked with students of elementary, junior high, high school, and college age, as well as with adults.

In 1994 Bimbetta was awarded affiiliate status with the San Francisco Early Music Society. In May 1995 the ensemble signed with California Artists Management. May 1996 saw the ensemble's European debut; and September 1997 marked the release of Bimbetta's first CD, "War of Love." The ensemble and CD were featured in an interview on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition." Bimbetta has also been featured on the nationally syndicated radio program, "Harmonia," and receives favorable critical press in newspapers across the country, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times.

CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED

"Anyone who can sing 'Zefiro Torna' as well as they can may dance to it any way they like." New York Times

"...showcasing exemplary musicality with refreshingly irreverent theatricality." Los Angeles Village View

"...the sauciest girl group since the Shangri-Las." Louisville Eccentric Observer

"Bimbetta can swing away on its feminist, political, liberational agenda, and you can take it or leave it. They're that good as musicians." Robert Commanday, The San Francisco Chronicle

BIMBETTA's Home Page


The Members of Bimbetta

Joanna Blendulf
cellist, a native of Sweden, has diverse musical interests, performing on both baroque and modern cello in orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the United States. She received degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Indiana University, studying with Stanley Ritchie, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi and Alan Harris. She was awarded a Performer's Certificate for outstanding performance on baroque cello from Indiana University. She was principal cellist of the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson-Thomas and has also performed with the Atlanta Symphony. Spending much time in transit, she is a member of the New York Collegium, Camerata Pacifica Baroque (Santa Barbara), Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, and Bimbetta. She also performs with Apollo's Fire (Cleveland) and Magnificat (San Francisco). Joanna's summer engagements have included appearances at the Boston, Bloomington, and Indianapolis Early Music Festivals.

Holly Chatham
harpsichordist, has performed under directors such as Jos van Immerseel, Paul Hillier, Stanley Ritchie and Wendy Gillespie, and in such venues as Andrew Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, The Krannert Center at University of Illinois, and Schoenberg Hall at UCLA.  Miss Chatham received her Master of Music degree in Harpsichord/Fortepiano Performance from the Early Music Institute at Indiana University (Bloomington), where she studied with Elisabeth Wright, Colin Tilney and Jos van Immerseel.  At IU she was awarded the prestigious Performerís Certificate.  As a Spivey Scholar, she earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Clayton College and State University (Atlanta), where she won the Steinway Scholarship Award in Mischa Dichterís name and studied performance-practice under Lyle Nordstrom.  She has also been awarded numerous scholarships to study in Europe.  Holly is currently Director of Music at Marymount School, a private school for girls in Manhattan and is harpsichordist for New York Baroque. 

Kirsten Blase
soprano, is an artist of broad scope whose repertoire ranges from John Dowland to John Adams, and from chamber music to opera.  Ms. Blase-Heilman made her professional solo debut in 1996 with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in Handel's Israel in Egypt. In 1999 she made her European opera debut in Stravinsky's Biblical Pieces staged by Peter Sellars for Netherlands Opera, and sang with the New World Symphony under the baton of John Adams in his work, Grand Pianola Music. A notable Bach specialist, Kirsten was an Adams Fellow in 2000 with the Carmel Bach Festival and was also an Ensemble Artist with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. In the 2000-01 season Ms. Blase-Heilman will make solo appearances with Concert Royal, New York Baroque Dance Company, Grand Rapids Symphony, New World Symphony, Stamford Symphony, American Classical Orchestra, and the Dallas Bach Society. In addition to her work as a soloist she is a member of Paul Hillier's Theatre of Voices with whom she has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Israel and recorded for Harmonia Mundi USA. Ms. Blase-Heilman is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Music. She currently resides in New York City.

Sonja Rasmussen
soprano, brings a lively interest in the interplay of music and theater to repertoire from the Renaissance to the 21st century. She takes special delight in brand new music as well as in music of the early baroque and of J.S. Bach. Her singing has been called by the press "riveting," "daring," "rapturous," and "sublime." Sonja has sung with ensembles as various as Steve Reich and Musicians, Fretwork, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Theatre of Voices, and the Bloomington Early Music Festival Orchestra (directed by Stanley Ritchie). She has taught 18th-century acting technique at Indiana University's Early Music Institute, where she was stage director for a semi-staged performance of Charpentier's Les Arts Florissants. While living and studying in Germany, Ms. Rasmussen was soloist with the Hessian Chamber Orchestra, on Bavarian Radio, and at the Berlin Jazz Festival. As a choral member of renowned German conductor Helmuth Rillling's Internationale Bach Ensemble, she participated in numerous TV broadcasts, recordings, and tours throughout Japan, Israel, Russia, and Europe. Sonja has recorded for Nonesuch, d'Note, and Focus, and has appeared on National Public Radio.

Catherine Webster
soprano, has sung under directors such as Paul Hillier, Stanley Ritchie, Wendy Gillespie and Jos van Immerseel in repertoire ranging from French baroque opera to contemporary works. Ms. Webster has toured the United States and Holland with Theatre of Voices and recorded three CDs with the group for Harmonia Mundi. She has performed frequently at the Bloomington Early Music Festival and appeared in recital in California, Boston, Indianapolis, and Milan, Italy. California performances have included appearances with Camerata Pacifica Baroque and in Monteverdi's Ballo delle Ingrate with Los Angeles-based Musica Angelica. Cassie holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from UCLA, and a Master of Music degree in early vocal performance from the Early Music Institute at Indiana University's School of Music, where she studied with Paul Elliott, Paul Hillier, and Ellen Hargis. Ms. Webster now resides in her native California where she is a member of the all-female baroque ensemble Bimbetta.

 


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