About


Black Tulip
is a multinational ensemble featuring Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano (the Netherlands), Mirja Lorenz, recorders (Germany), Phillip W. Serna, violas da gamba (US), and Joel Spears, lutes and theorbo (US). Interdisciplinary by nature, Black Tulip’s innovative outside-of-the-box programming immerses audiences in vivid and dynamic multi-media experiences. Black Tulip often combines dramatic cantatas and songs for solo voice and obbligato instruments with virtuosic instrumental works for recorders, viols, lutes and theorbo alongside history lectures incorporating projected artwork to depict the complex cultural lives of composers and their 17th- and 18th-century audiences. 

JOSEFIEN STOPPELENBURG, soprano

JOSEFIEN STOPPELENBURG graduated from the Amsterdam Conservatory of Music in 2005. She is regularly featured as a soloist for oratorio performances in the Netherlands, Germany and the US. She has been called “an astonishing singer” (Chicago Tribune), praised for her “creamy tone, dead-on accuracy and dramatic interpretation” (Chicago Classical Music). From 2005 to 2007, she was part of the Young Opera Ensemble of Cologne. She and her sister, Charlotte, make up the vocal duo Charlotte and Josefien Stoppelenburg. They perform with pinoduo and brothers Martijn and Stefan Blaak as ensemble Brothers and Sisters. The quartett performed in the Netherlands, The United States, Italy and will perform in Cuwait in 2015. In 1997, Charlotte and Josefien Stoppelenburg won the first prize at the Princess Christina Competition, and now enjoy national and international renown. In addition regular appearances on television and radio, their concert for the Dutch Royal Family was broadcast live on Dutch national TV. The duo has appeared in nearly every Dutch concert hall. Ms. Stoppelenburg’s recent solo engagements include Handel works with the Baroque Band, Newberry Consort, Camerata Amsterdam, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, the Fauré Requiem with Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, and the rôle of Aci in Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo and Tirsi in Clori, Tirsi e Fileno with the Haymarket Opera Company, Chicago’s 17th and 18th century opera troupe, which burst onto the scene in 2011 to great critical acclaim; She sang the world premiere of Jacob TV’s multi-media opera The News in Pittsburgh. In February 2013, she made her début in Korea with the Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem. Highlights of the the current season include the Handel Gloria with the Chicago Rembrandt Players, St John Passion with the St. Louis Bach Society, Handels La Lucrezia. She was the feautured soloist in the Peoria bach Festival 2014 and performed Non sa che sia dolore and Handel’s la Lucrezia. In February 2014 she made her debut in China (Beijing) as the soprano soloist in the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass. In 2015 she will perform Mozart’s Mass in C in Shanghai. She won the Chicago Oratorio Award 2013 and 2nd place Nationally in the American Prize Opera Competition 2013. Josefien was invited to perform as a soloist for the Dutch King Willem Alexander this Spring.

For more information on Josefien Stoppelenburg, visit http://www.josefienstoppelenburg.com/.

MIRJA LORENZ, recorders

MIRJA LORENZ, born and raised in Luebeck, Germany, learned her first little melodies on the recorder when she was about five years old, on Sunday mornings in her mother’s bed (who also was a recorder player).

As an adult, Mirja studied the recorder at Folkwang Musikhochschule in Duisburg/Germany with Gudrun Heyens, and later at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht/the Netherlands with Heiko ter Schegget. She also took master classes with recorder players, such as Marion Verbruggen, members of the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet, and others.

Mirja has performed in concerts in Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Chicago. She was a founding member of several ensembles, including Trio Vertical Total, with whom she recorded a CD.

Besides playing, Mirja also taught the recorder in Germany, helping numerous students succeed in the “Jugend Musiziert” recorder competition.

After moving to the Chicago area, Mirja first focused on a Bachelor’s Degree in English literature which she earned with honors from Roosevelt University. After returning to her music, Mirja quickly gained ground in the Chicago Early Music scene. She has performed with groups such as Music of the Baroque and Haymarket Opera and also enjoys performing in small ensembles.

PHILLIP W. SERNA, violas da gamba

In addition to his double bass career as soloist, orchestral performer and chamber musician, PHILLIP W. SERNA has emerged among the nation’s leading advocates of the viol – the viola da gamba. Co-founding the Chicago-area historical-performance ensembles New Comma Baroque, ViolMedium, and the Spirit of Gambo – a Chicago Consort of Viols, he’s appeared across the United States with groups ranging from the Burning River Baroque, the Chicago Early Music Consort, Les Touches, the Newberry Consort, and many others. He can be heard on WFMT Chicago, Wisconsin Public Radio, Milwaukee Public Radio, and on releases from Clarion, Cedille, and Varèse Sarabande Records. Holding Masters and Doctoral degrees from Northwestern University, Phillip teaches at Valparaiso University, North Central College, the Music Institute of Chicago, the J.S. Bach Academy of Music and is assistant director of Illinois’ first public-school period-instrument program at Adlai E. Stevenson High School. Phillip has served on the faculties of the Madison Early Music Festival, the Whitewater Early Music Festival, and is the music director of Viols in Our Schools earning him Early Music America’s 2010 Laurette Goldberg Award for lifetime achievement in Early Music outreach. For more information on Phillip Serna, visit http://www.phillipwserna.com/.

Phillip Serna performs on a 7-string bass viol ‘Natalia La Reveuse – The Dreamer’ (after Colichon) by Jane Julier, Devon, UK, #129, 2007.

JOEL SPEARS, lute and theorbo

JOEL SPEARS is an active lutenist and guitarist based in the Chicago area. He has performed both as a soloist and with ensembles of varying sizes, as a founding member of the ensemble Black Tulip, and including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, The Marion Consort, Seraphic Fire, Ars Antigua, Bella Voce, Music of the Baroque, The Chicago Early Music Consort, Scholars of Cambrai, and Heroic Bard. In addition to playing for numerous live radio broadcasts on 98.7-WFMT, he has appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, the Bach Week in Evanston Festival, and the Handel Week Festival. Joel recently collaborated with composer Scott Gibbons on his soundtrack for the multimedia event, “Les Noces de Louis XIV” held at Versailles. As a lecturer and performer, he as appeared at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Madison Early Music Festival, and as Guest Artist and Lecturer at Grand Valley State University. Joel is currently Lute Instructor at the Music Institute of Chicago, and Artistic Director of The Early Music Series at the Byron Colby Barn in Grayslake, Illinois. He is also proud to be the first theorbo teacher in the nation at the high school level at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL.