One of the few professional lutesong duos in the United States, Mignarda's fresh and engaging approach to historical music has set a new standard for interpretation, authenticity and musicianship. Based in rural upstate NY, they have produced seven critically-acclaimed CDs and a series of editions of historical music for voice and lute. Reviewers have described their music as "radiant", "bewitching". and "laden with elegance".
Reviewers have described their music as "radiant", "bewitching". and "laden with elegance". The Lute Society (UK) has called Rota Fortuna "essential listening", and Au pres de vous their "lute disk of the year". Divine Amarillis, their recording of French music from the early 17th century, was selected from a pool of 42,000 recordings for the award of first place for Best Album in the 2009 Just Plain Folks awards. Four of their recordings have been featured on Public Radio's internationally syndicated "Millennium of Music", hosted by Robert Aubrey Davis. Several have been selected as Choice CDs by Cleveland, Ohio's mainstream classical radio station WCLV. All are included among CDBaby's top 40 best-selling classical CDs.
Lutenist Ron Andrico has been a professional performer of historical music and music in theatre for more than 30 years, discovering the lute while completing a degree in composition. He promptly divested himself of all modern musical trappings and set about researching the context and subtleties of early music. His research has led to publication of a growing series of important music editions and scholarly articles that have to do with identifying, elucidating and performing the sources of 16th century lute music. Andrico's publications also include an exhaustive errata list for the complete works for lute by John Johnson (Editions Orphee) in conjunction with noted Harvard musicologist, John Ward; several articles identifying new concordances published by the Lute Society (UK) and by the Lute Society of America, for which he served as a director from 2000-2002. In addition to his 7 editions of historical music for voice and lute, he has edited and published the original lute solos of virtuoso lutenist Ronn McFarlane.
Donna Stewart apprenticed with a schola cantorum for more than a decade, singing Gregorian chant and polyphony from the middle ages onward in its liturgical context. Drawing on this unique experience, she has developed an understanding of the use and form of historical sacred music, which lies at the very heart of early music. Known for her warm and crystalline delivery of text, Stewart has performed and recorded on the Koch and Onda labels with Apollo's Fire, Cleveland's renowned baroque orchestra, and is recognized as having the ideal voice for renaissance lute song and crossover folk styles.
Together, the duo specialize in performing music that resides in the grey zone between folk and art music, with interpretations that follow the renaissance ideal of 'moving the passions' of the listener.
The couple met in Cleveland, Ohio, singing Gregorian chant & renaissance polyphony in a 5-voice schola for a weekly Latin Mass. They spent a year refining their music while living in the wilderness, in a remote log cabin in the Siskiyou Mountains, with bears, mountain lions, eagles and elk for their only audience. They now live in a handmade house in the forest of rural upstate NY, which makes it somewhat easier to venture out and perform for humans.