THE GOOD PENNYWORTHS, a vocal ensemble with lute accompaniment from NYC, was founded in 1986 to explore the interpretive possibilities of lute and voice, with a special emphasis on repertoire from the Renaissance period. During the past six years, the group has performed and toured four exciting programs featuring a combination of quartets, trios, duets and solo songs, performed with dramatic flair.
The Pennyworths’ newest program, Love is but a Jest: Songs for Fools and Lovers, is a collection of songs by serious composers on the silly and sublime natures of love. The concert features music from the Early Renaissance to the 21st century, including the premiere of the ensemble’s first commissioned work, a setting of Isabella Crawford’s 1880 poem, A Perfect Strain, for two voices and lute by NYC jazz composer Jordan Clawson. After premiering the new program in NYC in June 2012, the Pennyworths toured through Western NY, MI, IN, IL, WI and OH, with notable appearances at the Lute Society of America’s 2012 Lute Festival at Case Western Reserve University, Early Music in Columbus, and the Chautauqua Institution, where they also presented a Master Class.
Their most ambitious program to date, a fully-staged concert/theatre piece titled Songs From Shakespeare: True Love Never Did Run Smooth, was first toured to the LSA Lute Festival and the Midwest in June 2010 and then to the Boston Early Music Festival in June 2011. It features a full-length script which was cleverly pieced together into an overall story arc by dramaturg and stage director Katherine Harte-DeCoux, Artistic Director of Mortal Folly Theatre, using lines pulled from various Shakespeare plays and sonnets.
In addition, they have also presented and toured Love! Lust! Longing… Loss, a romp through the “pop” music of Elizabethan England, as well as A Pennyworth of Christmas, an annual selection of holiday songs ranging from Medieval carols and wassail songs to modern favorites given a Renaissance twist. The 2011 edition toured to Ohio in December. In 2009 and 2011, they performed in the Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Series, and released a full-length studio album entitled Love! Lust! Longing… Loss – an Elizabethan Romp featuring selections from that concert. They have performed for the Lute Society of America, Early Music in Columbus, the Chautauqua Institution, Eastern Carolina University School of Music and tour regularly in New England, the Midwest and the Southeast.
The Lute Society of America’s Quarterly Journal has praised them for their “depth in topic and vocal drama” and called their work “engaging for eye, ear, mind and heart… A rich performance that deserves to be heard far and wide.”
Garald Farnham (Baritone & Lutes) is the Founder/Artistic Director of the Good Pennyworths. He has entertained children and adults on four continents with his Renaissance spirit and song. His interest in collecting and studying lute songs began in his 20s, while performing them in Shakespeare plays with Michael Moriarty’s company, Potter’s Field. For 15 years, Garald studied lute with renowned lutenist Patrick O’Brien. He has served as Musical Director for Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, The Tempest at North Shore Music Theatre and The Winter’s Tale Off-Off-Broadway. He wrote and produced two scripted, staged concerts featuring Shakespeare songs Off-Off-Broadway. For 20 years, he directed the Renaissance ensemble Merry Minstrels, which appeared at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival. He currently serves as Treasurer of the Lute Society of America and is a graduate of Capital University’s Conservatory of Music in Columbus, Ohio, and holds a Masters in Music Education from NYU.
Jacquelyn Penfold (Soprano) teaches Music Theory, Voice and conducts the Chorus at Mustard Seed School in Hoboken, NJ. She is also a Masters candidate in Music Education at Capital University’s Conservatory of Music (MME in Secondary Choral Teaching using the Kodaly Method). She is a featured soloist at Church of the Heavenly Rest, where she conducts the Heavenly Rest Choristers. Jacquie also enjoys solo and ensemble singing in Cantigas Women’s Choir in Hoboken, NJ under the direction of Joan Isaacs Litman. While on tour with the Good Pennyworths this June, Jacquie is excited to return to St. Paul’s Cathedral, in Buffalo, NY, where she first began her choral music studies as a chorister with the St. Paul’s Choir. She furthered her musical studies at New York University (BM ’05), studying under professors Lori McCann, Ira Shankman and Francisco Nuñez. In New York City, she received first place for the Junior-Senior Musical Theater Division of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Student Vocal Auditions, and sang in productions of The Finishing School (Melanie) and Hansel and Gretel, as well as contemporary composer concerts with NATS (A Slice of Life). Jacquie recently performed a recital of selections from Gypsy, Sweeney Todd and Cabaret at Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York City.
Kirsten Kane (Mezzo Soprano), a native of northern Canada, sings as a freelance artist with various ensembles including the NY Philharmonic, NY Choral Artists, NY Virtuoso Singers, Mostly Mozart, Little Orchestra Society, and the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. She appeared with the NY Philharmonic as a Hen in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, and her operatic roles have included Paride with One World Symphony; Wanda in Friml’s Rose Marie with Light Opera of NY; Nicklausse/The Muse with Regina Opera; Prince Charming, Madame Haltière, Mercedes and Marcellina with NY Lyric Opera Theatre; Cherubino with Eastern Festival Opera; Romeo, Dorabella, Siebel and Hansel with Northport Opera; and La Badessa with Opera Company of Brooklyn. She has also performed with Belcanto at Caramoor, and the Royal Concertgebouw. She appeared in recital at the Fordham-At-Four concert series, and also presented a program of French salon songs at the Carlyle Hotel for the Jewish Museum’s exhibit of Sarah Bernhardt. Kirsten premiered the role of Kathleen in Susan Stoderl’s opera Afraid at the NY Fringe Festival. As concert soloist, her performances have included Haydn’s Schöpfungsmesse with NY Cantata Singers; Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Choral Symphony Society; Handel’s Messiah with Ensemble Sepia Orchestra; and Debussy’s Trois Chansons with Hudson Valley Singers. Her 2012 summer season will include covering the role of Poulenc’s Mère Marie in Dell’Arte Opera’s Dialogues des Carmélites. Kirsten is a graduate of the Victoria Conservatory of Music in British Columbia. www.classicalsinger.net/kirstenkane
Christopher Preston Thompson (Tenor, Gothic Harp) Described by Opera News as a “versatile, funny, game and attractive…obviously well-trained singer” for his recent portrayal of the Artist in the world premiere of The Pig, the Farmer, and the Artist – a new opera by multiple Grammy nominee, David Chesky (Joshua Rosenblum, OperaNews.com) – Christopher Preston Thompson’s experience ranges from opera and concert singing to Shakespearean roles and musical theatre, focusing on Early Music and New Music. Most recently, Christopher received praise from New York Concert Review for a “superb” performance in the title role of Benjamin Britten’s The Prodigal Son at the Church of the Transfiguration in NYC, hailing him “a fine singing-actor…singing with dramatic intensity, great sound and crystal-clear diction” (Harry Saltzman, nyconcertreview.com). Other NYC credits include the premiere of The Theory of Everything as Anton with Encompass New Opera; roles with the Bronx Opera Company (Carmen as Remendado, Orpheus in the Underworld as Mercury), Nicu’s Spoon Theatre (Richard III as Prince Edward and Lord Stanley), and Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble (A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Snout, Le Nozze di Figaro as Basilio/Curzio); and appearances with the New York Virtuoso Singers, Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, and Marble Collegiate Sanctuary Choir. Regional credits include roles with the Opera Company of the Highlands, New Rochelle Opera Theatre, Crested Butte Music Festival, Riverside Theatre, and the Great River Shakespeare Festival, as well as performances with the Pro Arte Singers and the Bard Summerscape Festival. Upcoming performances include the title role in Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero with Morningside Opera, appearances at the Bard Summerscape Festival, and a solo concert at the American Church in Paris, which will include the world premiere of a new piece by Laura Kaminsky. In addition, Christopher can be seen in performance both as an Early harpist and singer with the Good Pennyworths and with his Medieval trio, Concordian Dawn. Please visit www.christopherprestonthompson.com for more.
Laura Campbell (Soprano) is a graduate of Texas Christian University, where she studied Musical Theatre and Acting. She has since performed at theatres across the country including Bigfork Summer Playhouse (MT), The Round Barn Theatre (IN), Allenberry Playhouse (PA), The Music of Denali (AK), StrawHat Players (MN), and Circle Theatre (TX). Favorite Shows/Roles include: Anything Goes (Hope), Little Women: The Musical (Amy), The Fantasticks (Luisa), Bus Stop (Elma), Private Lives (Sibyl), A Chorus Line (Bebe), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Shy), Seussical: The Musical (JoJo), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Schwarzy), Urinetown and Footloose. In NYC, you can see her singing most Sundays with the Advent Chorale at Advent Lutheran Church. For more about Laura, visit www.lauraleahcampbell.com. Love to TMJ.
Timothy Joyce (Tenor) is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a BFA in Acting. Over the past five years, he has toured to New York, Connecticut, Virginia, Indiana, Nebraska, Montana, Alaska, Midwest and up and down the East Coast. Favorite credits include three summers at Bigfork Summer Playhouse in Montana performing shows like Kiss Me, Kate (Petruchio), Beauty and the Beast (Gaston), Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Seussical, The Wiz, and Urinetown, two summers in the-middle-of-nowhere-Alaska performing The Music of Denali, a midwest tour of A Christmas Carol with Nebraska Theater Caravan, Robin Hood with the Berkshire Theater Festival and Plaid Tidings with Amish Acres. Offstage, he has directed for the Bigfork Playhouse Children’s Theater and the Alaska Shakespeare Festival. He is also one of the “regulars” in the monthly Our Bar series of original theater at Failte Irish Whiskey Bar in NYC. On Sundays, he sings with the Advent Chorale at Advent Lutheran Church in NYC. When not doing any of these things, you will find him enthusiastically experimenting in cooking with his fiancee, Laura Campbell.