Acclaimed by the New York Times for their “deeply expressive, intimate and often haunting interpretations,” the early music duo Asteria brings a “delightful sweetness” and “a profound knowledge of the repertoire” (Goldberg Magazine) to the music of courtly love.
Asteria takes its name from the Greek word for stars, and indeed the stars aligned when Sylvia Rhyne (soprano) and Eric Redlinger (tenor and lute) first sang together. They immediately captured the 2004 “Unicorn Prize,” the highest honor in Early Music America’s first Medieval and Renaissance Performance Competition, launching a career that has taken them across the United States and around the world.
Semi-staged and sung from memory, Asteria’s performances create an indelible impression, transporting the audience to the age of chivalry with radiant love songs of timeless appeal. The duo’s four CDs feature a range of late medieval music from the better-known Vergine Bella and Se La Face Ay Pale to re-discovered works gleaned from original source material, bringing to life songs rarely, if ever, heard since the 15th century.
They have given concerts in France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, England, Mexico and Japan and have performed at festivals and venues including Tage Alter Musik in Regensburg, Festival Meridiennes in Tours, Musée de Cluny in Paris and Chartres Cathedral, to name a few.
In the United States, Asteria has given concerts and lecture-demonstrations at the Dallas Museum of Art, Virginia Museum of Art, San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center, Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, Hollins University, Holy Cross, York College and Carleton College. They have performed in New York City at Bargemusic, the Times Center, the Cloisters and the Frick Collection.
Sylvia and Eric serve as artists-in-residence at the Chateau de Germolles in Burgundy, France, every spring, where they continue their research into the medieval music they so deeply cherish.
Eric Redlinger’s skill on the lute and sweet tenor voice are complemented by his expertise in early music, earned through study at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and extensive archival research into original sources. Following graduation from Middlebury College, Eric spent several years immersing himself in the European musical archives of the Hague, Basel and Marburg. During this time he also did post-graduate studies in composition and musicology at the Frankfurt Conservatory of Music, worked in the studio of New York based avant-garde composer Philip Glass and studied medieval lute with Crawford Young and voice with Richard Levitt at the Schola. He now makes his home in New York, where he has studied with Drew Minter and Gary Ramsey.
Sylvia Rhyne brings to the partnership not only her quicksilver soprano but also a strong dramatic connection with the audience, gained from a professional career in musical theater. She has starred internationally as Christine in “The Phantom of the Opera,” and on Broadway as Joanna in “Sweeney Todd” under the direction of Harold Prince, Susan Schulman and Stephen Sondheim.
Raised in London and the Pacific Northwest, Sylvia grew up surrounded by classical music, opera and dance. She pursued a passion for early music at Carleton College, guided by Stephen Kelly, taking leading roles in early operas and operettas on her way to a degree in music. She studied also with Wesley Balk at St. Olaf College and recorded with Dennis Russell Davies and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Arriving in New York, Sylvia was invited to sing with the New York City Opera and began ongoing coaching with Marcy Lindheimer.
Upon meeting, Eric and Sylvia immediately discovered their mutual interest in earlier repertoire and began to rendezvous regularly in New York’s Central Park to work on late Medieval and Renaissance pieces, gradually developing their passionate approach to the music. Asteria’s performances convey the anguish and ecstasy of the poetry and the rapturous beauty of the interweaving vocal and instrumental lines.