La Donna Musicale — artist biographies

La Donna Musicale Aaron Sheehan


La Donna Musicale is a unique ensemble dedicated to the historically-informed performance of music by women composers from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods and to the performance of contemporary music by women. Praised by Early Music America for its “excellent performers” and “outstanding music stylishly performed,” the Boston-based ensemble has given the modern world premieres of works by Antonia Bembo, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, Maria Xaviera Peruchona and Julie Pinel, among others. La Donna Musicale’s performers are trained in the study of historical performance practice and the group frequently collaborates with noted musicologists Claire Fontijn, Robert Kendrick, David Lasocki, Thierry Favier, and Catherine Gordon-Seifert. In addition to concerts in the U.S. and in Europe, La Donna Musicale has been featured in educational programs such as Meet the Performer at Harvard University and Learning to Listen at Bryn Mawr College.

La Donna Musicale’s groundbreaking recordings, The Seven Psalms of David, Vols. I and II, feature Baroque composers Antonia Bembo and Elisabeth de la Guerre. These CDs constitute the largest recorded compilation of Bembo’s music to date. Both received outstanding reviews in Early Music America, International Record Review and Early Music (UK). La Donna Musicale’s newest recording, The Pleasures of Love and Libation: Airs by Julie Pinel and other Parisian Women, showcasing Baroque and Rococo music, as well as Vol. 1 of the Seven Psalms, have received the highest praise (5 stars) from the international early music journal Goldberg. These CDs were also hailed by reviewers for Early Music America and CD HotList.

Lydia Heather Knutson, Mezzo-soprano, has performed around the world, appearing on radio and at leading music festivals in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Australia, including the Bergen (Norway), Cervantino (Mexico), Adelaide (Australia), Tanglewood Music Festival; and the Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver, and Amherst Early Music Festivals. She is a member of the medieval ensemble Fortune’s Wheel, the Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, and La Donna Musicale. She has collaborated with many ensembles, including Sequentia, the Boston Camerata, and La Fontegara (Mexico). Her discography includes music from the 12th to the 18th centuries and can be heard on the Dorian, Erato, and BMG Classics/Deutsche Harmonia Mundi labels.

Aaron Sheehan, tenor, is in high demand as a versatile performer of music ranging from solo to chamber repertoire. His voice has been praised by Opera News, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. He has appeared as soloist with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Tragicomedia, Concerto Palatino, New York Collegium, the King’s Noyse, American Bach Soloists, Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Tempesta di Mare, Aston Magna Festival, Charlotte Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Boston Cecilia, American Opera Theater, Intermezzo Chamber Opera, and the Lyra Concert Baroque Orchestra. His singing has taken him to many venues and festivals such as Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington National Cathedral, Tanglewood, the Early Music Festivals of Boston, Regensburg, Washington DC, and Madison, as well as Monadnock Summer Music Festival. Aaron has recorded and toured the U.S. and Europe with Paul Hillier’s Theater of Voices, as well as Fortune’s Wheel, and appears on the 2007 Grammy nominated recording of Lully’s Theseé with the Boston Early Music Festival. He still performs regularly with Blue Heron Choir, Fortune’s Wheel, and La Donna Musicale. Aaron is on the faculties of Wellesley College, Case Western Reserve, and Brown University.

Na’ama Lion, baroque flute, has degrees from Boston University, Longy School of Music, Arnhem Conservatory (the Netherlands), and Tel Aviv University. She has studied baroque flute with Wilbert Hazelzet, Pieter van Howelingen, Christopher Krueger, and Barthold Kuijken, among others, as well as modern flute with Sergio Feidman and Uri Shoham. She has performed with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, and Sequentia. She serves on the faculties of Longy School of Music, Atlantic Union College, and the Amherst Early Music Summer Workshop, as well as being Director of Chamber Music at Mather House, Harvard University. Ms. Lion is a founding member of New Quartet and Kammerton. She has recorded for the BMG/Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, and Centaur labels, and with La Donna Musicale with whom she toured Europe in 2006. Laura Gulley, violin, holds a B.S. in music and mathematics from Brown University. Widely in demand in the Boston and New England area, Laura has performed on baroque violin with Boston Baroque, the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, the Newport Baroque Orchestra, Renaissonics, the women’s baroque orchestra Foundling, and La Donna Musicale. On modern violin she performs with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and numerous other groups in Providence and Boston. She researched, directed and performed Latin American music of the Baroque era for the score of a film about Simón Bolívar produced in 2001 by the John Carter Brown Library. She currently directs the Suzuki string program and teaches thirty young violinists at the Music School of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, where she has taught since 1990. She appears on two recordings of The Seven Psalms of David by Antonia Bembo released by La Donna Musicale, the Renaissonics CD Carols for Dancing released in 2006 by WGBH, and three Boston Baroque recordings released by Telarc. Ruth McKay, harpsichord, began studying harpsichord with Naydene Bowder and Robert Greenlee at Bowdoin College. After a five-year apprenticeship with Cambridge (MA) harpsichord builder Eric Herz, Ms. McKay undertook graduate harpsichord studies with Peter Sykes. She earned an MA from the Longy School of Music in 1995. She performs in and around Boston with many early music groups, including EtCetera, Hortulus Chelicus, Splendid Century, Musica Amicorum, and Boston Virtuosi. Currently Ms. McKay tunes and regulates harpsichords, teaches, and serves on the boards of the Society for Historically Informed Performance and the Cambridge Society for Early Music. She has recorded with La Donna Musicale and toured Europe with the group in 2006. Laury Gutiérrez, viola da gamba, is the founding director of La Donna Musicale. Praised as a “first-rate” instrumentalist by the Boston Globe, she is a specialist in early and contemporary music by women composers and also in music of the Spanish Renaissance. She holds degrees in solo performance and historical performance practice from Indiana University, Longy School of Music, and the College of Saint Scholastica. She also received fellowships and a scholarship from Boston University, where she did doctoral work in historical performance. Ms. Gutiérrez has performed with Thomas Binkley, Monica Huggett, John Holloway and Wendy Gillespie, among others. She has been a guest artist-lecturer at Northeastern University, Harvard University, and Brandeis University. She has recorded with La Donna Musicale for radio stations WGBH and WHRB and for the 2001 film Simon Bolivar. Ms. Gutiérrez is a recipient of a prestigious fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She has been chosen as one of 100 Greater Boston women to be honored for their leadership and achievements in a portrait exhibit at the College Club of Boston in September 2008.