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After graduating from Nottingham University with an MA in the editing and interpretation of Renaissance and Baroque music, Deborah Roberts began her career combining editorial work with singing in various professional early music ensembles. In 1981 she was a prize winner in the early music competition in Bruges, enabling her to study with Andrea von Ramm in Basel.
Over the years much of her career has been dedicated to singing with the Tallis Scholars, with whom she has given over a thousand concerts, but she has also made solo appearances with several other noted ensembles including the Consort of Musicke, the Deller Consort, the Parley of Instruments, London Baroque and the English Concert. Solo recordings have included a collection of Shakespeare songs with the Broadside Band and an unusual album, The Trumpet Collection, in which she sings a variety of music from Monteverdi to Sir Henry Bishop with obbligato from a range of historic brass instruments.
Her chief musical love, however, is the Italian Renaissance and early Baroque where she can give full rein to her fascination with both the Italian language and the highly ornamental and rhetorical style of the music. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the university of Southampton, engaged in research into female vocal ensembles in sixteenth-century Italy, but she also regularly gives lectures and workshops on the subject at various other universities and colleges . Another area of research has been into music composed by seventeenth-century nuns. She founded the ensemble Musica Secreta to perform much of this rare music, and the group has now released four CDs to high critical acclaim.
Since March 1998 she has been musical director of a small a capella choir, the Brighton Consort and now directs six or seven concerts a year of rare Renaissance repertoire, much of it in her own editions. In the past year she has also been invited to teach and direct on residential courses for singers of Renaissance and early Baroque music, and in June 2002 will direct a week long course studying and performing her own edition of the Vespers psalms of the nun composer Margarita Cozzolani in Bruges.
She has given radio talks and interviews about this music in the USA, Australia, and the UK, including recent appearances on Woman's Hour and In Tune.
Any remaining spare time is spent keeping chickens, making cider and growing vegetables!
Written by Laurie Stras.
Last updated 21 January, 2002.
The views expressed in this document are those of the author and not those of the University of Southampton.