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.
Maggie Finnegan (Soprano) Hailed for her “admirable tonal purity and textural clarity” (Baltimore Sun), Maggie is a New York-based soprano who sings opera, new music, musical theater, cabaret, and folk. Maggie recently made her professional musical theater debut as Freulein Schweiger in The Sound of Music with Paper Mill Playhouse, and spent this winter co-writing, co-producing and performing in a cabaret entitled Anything You Can Sing I Can Sing Higher, which premiered at Germano’s in Baltimore. On the opera stage, Maggie has performed roles including Anne Sexton in Susa’s Transformations (Peabody Chamber Opera), First Spirit in Die Zauberflöte (New Jersey Opera), Gretel in Hansel und Gretel (Peabody Opera), Zerlina in Chesapeake Chamber Opera’s Don Giovanni, Anna Freud in a new opera entitled Dora (Peabody Chamber Opera), and two solo roles in unMET: Opera for the 21st Century with the Juventas New Music Ensemble in Boston, MA. Maggie has also been seen in productions of Boris Godunov with The Metropolitan Opera, Eugene Onegin and Roméo et Juliette with LA Opera, and Le Roi Malgré Lui and Tanayev’s Oresteia at the Bard Summerscape Festival. An enthusiastic recitalist, past repertoire includes Britten’s Les Illuminations, Rachmaninoff’s Opus 38, John Corigliano’s Mr.Tambourine Man: Seven Bob Dylan Poems, Libby Larsen’s Try Me Good King and Lonnie Hevia’s Many Named Beloved, composed in 2008 for coloratura soprano, harp, flute and cello. She holds a Master of Music from Peabody Conservatory and a Bachelor of Music from Manhattan School of Music. Maggie is thrilled to join The Good Pennyworths this fall. Please visit www.maggiefinnegan.weebly.com for more.
Kirsten Kane (Mezzo Soprano), has been praised as “a consummate artist with a vividly expressive voice and superb musical imagination. Her beautiful singing, her intelligence, and her keen sense of dramatic focus and pacing are a world-class combination.” (David Gordon, Carmel Bach Festival) Currently a member of New York City Opera Associate Chorus, Ms. Kane made her New York Philharmonic role debut as a Hen in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen in 2011. Recent roles include Venus in L’Amour et la Folie, Grant Herreid’s sung debate between Cupid and Folly (NY Continuo Collective) at the Boston Early Music Festival; Agricola in Strauss’s Eine Nacht in Venedig (Hellenic Music Foundation); Paride in Gluck’s Paride ed Elena (One World Symphony). Recent recital work includes a semi-staged presentation of French, Russian and Greek melodies with pianist Melinda Coffey Armstead (premiered on the West coast and repeated in NY); a Lenten program in Pebble Beach, CA; a program of French salon songs for the Jewish Museum’s exhibit of Sarah Bernhardt; and a program for the Fordham-At-Four concert series. This summer brought her to Bard Summerscape for Taneyev’s Oresteia, followed by NY City Opera’s Anna Nicole. Ms. Kane has also performed with the NY Virtuoso Singers, Belcanto at Caramoor, American Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Collegiate Chorale, Melodious Accord, the Mostly Mozart Festival, NY Philharmonic/NY Choral Artists, the Little Orchestra Society, Liederkranz Chorus, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. In December she will join the Santa Fe Desert Chorale for their 2013 winter season. Please visit www.classicalsinger.net/kirstenkane for more detail.
Christopher Preston Thompson (Tenor, Gothic Harp) With a “mystical harp and a beautiful voice”, Christopher has “enchanted” audiences (The Epoch Times) in New York City and beyond. Described by Opera News as a “versatile, funny, game and attractive…obviously well-trained singer”, he ranges in experience as singer, actor, and historic harpist, with specific focus on Early Music and New Music. Credits include Gotham Early Music Scene’s The Play of Daniel, Early Music Vancouver’s The Unknown ‘Carmina Burana’ with Sequentia, the Church of the Transfiguration’s productions of Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River (Madwoman) and The Prodigal Son (title role), concerts with Toby Twining Music, Pomerium, New York Virtuoso Singers, The Broken Consort, Concordian Dawn (founding artistic director), Marble Collegiate Sanctuary Choir, The Good Pennyworths, Bard Summerscape Festival, roles with Encompass New Opera Theatre (Anton in The Theory of Everything), Underworld Productions Opera (Flaminio in Il trionfo dell’onore), Bronx Opera (Remendado in Carmen and Mercury in Orpheus in the Underworld), Great River Shakespeare Festival (title role in Cymbeline), the Crested Butte Music Festival (Dr. Cajus in Falstaff), Nicu’s Spoon Theatre (Prince Edward and Lord Stanley in Richard III), a solo concert on the Atelier Concert Series at the American Church in Paris premiering Five Songs on Texts by Fauset and Grimké by Laura Kaminsky (which he also premiered in NYC at Symphony Space’s 2013 Wall to Wall Festival), and the world premier of multiple Grammy nominee David Chesky’s new opera, The Pig, the Farmer, and the Artist in the role of the Artist. Please visit www.christopherprestonthompson.com for more.
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.
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.