In 1993, four women rehearsed Baroque sonatas, and a musical epiphany called Belladonna was born. The group was featured on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, Pittsburgh’s WQED-FM classical music station, WGBH Boston, as well as the nationally syndicated radio program Harmonia. Quickly, they were invited to perform for the Seattle Early Music Guild, National Music Museum (Vermillion S.D.), the Renaissance and Baroque Society (Pittsburgh), and Early Music Now (Milwaukee). Belladonna made their New York debut in Merkin Hall and also toured to Canada, Brazil, and Europe. Their critically acclaimed Folias Festivas CD was re-released on the Dorian label. The quartet, featuring Barbara Weiss, harpsichord, Cléa Galhano, recorder, Margaret Humphrey, baroque violin, and Rebecca Humphrey, baroque cello, has a reputation for their fantastical interpretation of Baroque repertoire, informed by their their collective experiences playing Latin, contemporary, rock, folk and experimental jazz. This can also be heard on their recording Gathering, a collaboration with Chinese pipa player Gao Hong. Belladonna was a 10 year artist-in-residence ensemble for the Schubert Club of St. Paul as well as Class Notes Artists in Residence for Minnesota Public Radio, where they presented outreach educational programs to children in public schools around the state.
“The four-woman chamber ensemble Belladonna presented a program of 17th century folias in witty arrangements…in performances that were high profile, fantastically colored and just plain hot. Their flashy rhythmic play and daredevil divisions drove the audience into fits. Belladonna reminded us that early music, however historically informed, is as quirky, improvisatory and fresh as jazz.”