Voyages in Medieval and Renaissance Music from Europe

Like the relentless tramontana wind, our music crosses Europe, stirring emotions

‘Tramontana’* is the name of a northern wind that sweeps across Europe, through the French and Spanish Pyrenees and the Italian Alps, before reaching the Mediterranean Sea. According to local legends, the howling wind, bitterly cold, dry and relentless, has the power to induce madness. The word itself means ‘across the mountains’ and was used to refer to the northern direction, but also to anything or anyone strange or foreign. From as early as the late 13th century, it was also an alternative name for the North Star or Pole Star, a pivotal navigation aid of the times. How does this relate to our music? Click HERE or scroll down to read on.

* also tramontane, tramuntana, and other variations in different Mediterranean languages

Ensemble Tramontana is:

Eszter Komáromi, viols/vielle
Esha Neogy, viols
Rie Kosaka, voice/harps
Louise Eekelaar, voice
Julie Dean, recorders/percussion

. . . and guests, plus new artists to be announced!

Ensemble Tramontana - Eszter Esha Rie Louise Julie

‘Wonderful ensemble playing and great

programme planning.’

~ Early Music Today

Overview and Beginnings

Like the tramontana wind, the music Ensemble Tramontana performs has travelled across Europe, stirring emotions. Medieval and Renaissance times may have been very different from each other in artistic styles and worldview, but the periods as a whole were an extended time of revival, discovery, and growth. It was the era of courtly love, the Crusades, trade routes and of course Columbus’s epic voyage of 1492. It was a time of exploration, of fundamental social change, of revival of ancient knowledge coupled with discovery of new lands and wonders — and of much beautiful art and music. We relish connecting seemingly unrelated elements within the historical and social context of the music, then building on them to create a sense of the people of this time and place. We use voices, viols, recorders, harps, percussion, vielles/medieval fiddles, and other early instruments to experiment with blending timbres for a soundworld which intensely evokes the spirit of the times. 

Our focus on travelling and finding cross-border connections pre-dates the recent turmoil over immigration and other struggles of separateness and belonging. Most of our composers, some of the characters in our songs, and all of our performers have travelled. The founding members of our ensemble each came from elsewhere (some from other countries) to study at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. In the Early Music Department there, we benefitted from the instruction of specialists including Belinda Sykes, Alison Crum, Philip Thorby, and Timothy Travers-Brown. On 23 March 2011, we won the conservatoire’s Early Music Competition, which launched us with great momentum on our journey as professionals. Again like the tramontana wind, our music settles nowhere, but continually sweeps across mountains, borders, and other obstacles.

Please scroll down for more about what we do.

What We Do

Our programmes generally create a journey or tell a story – and after all, a story is also a journey. We combine pieces of different eras by themes more than chronologically, and often include references to stars/winds/mountains, or navigate voyages through history/geography/emotions. We are based in London but travel widely, and we have performed or will be performing in an extensive variety of situations including the following:

  • Major concert venues such as St Martin-in-the-Fields and Kings Place;
  • Churches, historic buildings, and museums such as the National Maritime Museum, Handel House (now called Handel and Hendrix in London), and the Geffrye Museum;
  • Mental health activity days at MIND and The Dragon Café;
  • Celebrations of Shakespeare and other authors, anniversaries of historical events, other theatrical productions;
  • Cafes, dinner meetings, and outdoor festivals such as Crystal Palace Overground Festival and Lewisham People’s Day
  • Educational or fundraising events, church services, society or special-interest club meetings, private house concerts

Please see our Book Us page for a sampling of programmes we perform.

Ensemble Tramontana

Performers

Founding Members

Esha Neogy

Esha Neogy

General Manager, Viols

Esha Neogy is a viola da gamba (viol) player and event organiser who lives in London and makes regular visits to her hometown of Honolulu. In addition to Ensemble Tramontana, the groups and individuals she has performed with include Musica Antica Rotherhithe, Musicke in the Ayre, Lutesinger (Helen Atkinson), Chelys Consort of Viols, Echoing Air, the Hastings Philharmonic, the Hawai‘i-based group Europa Early Music Consort, and various other ensembles and theatre groups. The first syllable of Esha’s name is pronounced like saying the name of the letter A, to rhyme with ‘may’.

Esha is developing a practice in teaching early music, particularly to adult beginners who would like to make music for fun. She has served as a deputy teacher of the adult viol class at Morley College; led numerous Artists-in-the-Schools programmes in Hawai‘i on early music; assisted with beginners’ classes for the Viola da Gamba Society (Great Britain) and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; demonstrated the different sizes of viol and held ‘try a viol’ sessions for various schools and choirs; and hosted relaxed ‘discomfort zone’ viol sessions at her house for competent musicians who would like to get out of their ‘comfort zone’ by learning a new instrument socially along with their peers.

The events Esha has directed or organised include the international Pan-Pacific Gamba Gathering (PPGG), which was held in Honolulu in 2007 on the theme of the viol as a ‘world’ instrument and included sessions on crossover and new music as well as the viol’s core history and repertoire. She currently serves as project director for the March 2024 inaugural event of a programme inspired by the PPGG: the Early Music and Global Instrument Celebration (EMaGIC), this time on Latin American early music and held physically in Texas, for which she will direct the online and hybrid aspects while working under the executive director and with the concert artistic director, lecture and organisations coordinator, and course director.

In addition to the above, Esha has volunteered for numerous charities/non-profit organisations including the Viola da Gamba Society (Great Britain), Katherine McGillivray’s Get a Life Fund, Early Music Hawai‘i (as a founding member), and Children’s Literature Hawai‘i (as conference director). She has also served or worked as a writer, editor, deafness services provider, and mediator.

Esha did postgraduate studies in early music at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, in which she specialised in the viola da gamba under the tutelage of Alison Crum and worked toward a Master of Arts in Music Education and Performance. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the University of Hawai‘i. Most recently, Esha is learning the vielle/medieval fiddle and the lira da braccio, with her eye on the lirone. She has also joined a weaving class – yet another use for strings!

Eszter Komáromi

Eszter Komáromi

Concert design, video design, audio and video editing, viols

Eszter Komáromi (founder) grew up in Hungary, where she studied biology and computer programming and worked as a software developer. Her passion, however, has always been for music. She started the cello at the age of seven and played in various orchestras and chamber music formations until she started learning the viol in 2004, taking private lessons from Sándor Szászvárosi. She attended courses in Hungary (Bukk Summer Academy) and abroad.

Eszter obtained her LTCL diploma in 2010 and did postgraduate study in viola da gamba at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, studying with Alison Crum and supported by the Ferrabosco Scholarship. She was an active member of Trinity Laban’s early music ensembles and worked on projects there including the creation of Ensemble Tramontana and collaborations with the departments of Composition and Jazz.

Her projects then and since include solo recitals; a study on playing outdoors and in other non-traditional venues; and the designing of programmes for both Ensemble Tramontana and her own Inspired Melancholy project. Eszter has performed with various groups and individuals such as the Lovekyn consort, the Exmoor Singers of London, and Philip Thorby.

Louise Eekelaar

Louise Eekelaar

VOICE

Twice winner of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Early Music Competition in 2011 and 2013 with Ensemble Tramontana and Virtuosa, Louise is a professional singer based in London, specialising in early music and with extensive experience in all forms of solo and choral styles, from medieval to contemporary. She is also Director of Music at Holy Trinity Church in Brook Green, London. 

Louise studied with Alison Wells and Timothy Travers-Brown at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she obtained her LTCL Diploma with distinction, and holds a Masters in Early Music from the University of York.

Visit Louise’s website

Julie Dean

Julie Dean

RECORDERS, PERCUSSION

Julie Dean gained her BMus degree in 1998 at Goldsmith College, London. In 2006, after a successful management career in retail and the licensed trade, she returned to music, attending Trinity College of Music for her MMus studying the recorder with Rebecca Miles and viola da gamba with Alison Crum. 

Visit Julie’s websites: Recorder Groups London and Recorder Shop London

Rie Kosaka

Rie Kosaka

VOICE, Harps

Rie enjoys both singing and playing the harp and has a passion for medieval and Renaissance music. She studied at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and earned her MMus degree from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She now resides in Japan with her husband and son and continues to perform and teach.

Visit Rie’s website

Additional Performers

Emily Baines, recorder and voice
EmilyBaines.co.uk Facebook

Jennifer Barron, viol
JenniferBarron.com

Sophia Brumfitt, mezzo-soprano
Website | Facebook

Kate Conway, viol
About Kate

Oliver Doyle, tenor
Musica Antica Rotherhithe links:
Website | Facebook

Henry Drummond, viol
About Henry | More About Henry

With Greenwich Consort friends
Viols for St Michael’s Camden services/concert 2019:
Catherine Clark
Dorothy Goodall
Maureen Jackson
Caroline Wood
– led by Tramontana member Esha Neogy

Allan Fagerlund, viol

Timea Gazdag, soprano
About Timea

Chris Lamb. viol
About Chris

Richard MacKenzie, lute
About Richard and some of his CDs

Michael Mullen, viol and Renaissance flute

Amanda Seaborn, viol
Amanda’s art

Srabani Sen, actor
LinkedIn | Twitter

With Greenwich Consort friends
Instruments for The Bard at St Barnabas 2019:
Simon Galton, recorder
Kate Jackson, recorder and percussion
Cathie Tedder, viol
– led by Tramontana member Julie Dean

Other Support

Karen Lunde
website
Circle Round Creative
 websites and marketing
The Olympia Peace Choir
Karen’s photos

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Ted Copper
recording, instrument loan, photography

John Merron
ideas, transport, recording

Din Ghani
recording, scores
Musicke in the Ayre links:  Facebook | YouTube

Caroline Wood
instrument loan, rehearsal stand-in

Robin Adams
ideas, printing

Dava Suren
recording, photography

Catherine Clark
rehearsal stand-in, venue preparation, hospitality
Catherine’s art

Simon Peterken
house concert venue

Gabby Bignell
instrument loan
Gabby’s art | Gabby’s massage therapy
Gabrielle Bignell: massage therapist on LinkedIn

David Fireman
sweets design
Mr Humbug shop

Rehearsal stand-ins
Catherine Clark

Andrew Freeland
Michael Jenner

Marion Pilbeam
Caroline Wood