Black Tulip is a multinational ensemble featuring Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano (the Netherlands), Mirja Lorenz, recorders (Germany), Phillip Serna, viols (US), and Joel Spears, lutes and theorbo (US). Their prime focus is the rich cantata repertoire for solo voice with obbligato instrument, interspersed with dynamic and diverse instrumental music from the 17th and 18th centuries. They’ve appeared on many concert series in Illinois, including twice on Live from WFMT, as Early Music at the Barn, the Evanston Art Center, as well as in many church and chamber music series in the Chicago area. The musicians of Black Tulip also enjoy active solo careers. Black Tulip strives to create out-of-the-box programs, combining music with other art forms, such as with art and music history lectures, with narrators, or by projecting paintings that fit the music they are performing. In their ‘Tulipmania’ presentations of last season, music of the Dutch 17th century, paintings of that era (projected on a big screen) and anecdotes of daily life in the Dutch Golden Age were assembled into a coherent, informative and amusing presentation. The ensemble has many highly virtuosic cantatas by Scarlatti, Vivaldi and Handel on its program. Thanks to their lively presentation, the high quality of music making, and their engaging way to connect with audiences, the musicians of Black Tulip are quickly gaining recognition.


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, viola da gamba

PHILLIP W. SERNA performs on double bass with numerous Midwest orchestras as well as on violas da gamba with period-instrument Early Music ensembles including Ars Antigua, the Bach Collegium of Fort Wayne, Burning River Baroque, the Callipygian Players, the Chicago Early Music Consort, Duo fantaisie en Echo, Harmonie, Madison Bach Musicians, the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, New Comma Baroque, the Newberry Consort of Viols, the Oriana Singers, the Second City Musick, the Secret of the Muses, the Spirit of Gambo – a Chicago Consort of Viols, and many others. In performance, Phillip has appeared on Chicago’s 98.7FM WFMT, Wisconsin Public Radio, Milwaukee Public Radio and WUIS NPR and can be heard on CD releases from Clarion, Cedille, Soundbyte and Varèse Sarabande Records. On viol, Phillip appears as a recitalist performing old and new works for viol and as an orchestral concert soloist. He maintains a private teaching studio stretching across the greater Chicago-area, teaching viola da gamba and viol consort class at the Music Institute of Chicago and teaching double bass and viola da gamba at Valparaiso University. At Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL, Phillip works as Historically-Informed Performance coach and sponsor for their viol consorts and Illinois’ first public-school period-instrument Baroque ensemble. Committed to community engagement and educational outreach, Phillip is founder and music director of Viols in Our Schools, an Early Music program whose impact earned him Early Music America’s Outreach Award in 2010. Phillip holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Masters and Doctorate degrees from Northwestern University School of Music where he studied viola da gamba with Newberry Consort founder Mary Springfels. Phillip continues to study the viol at workshops and master classes with instructors including Erin Headley, Wieland Kuijken, Catherina Meints, Gail Ann Schroeder, Christel Thielmann and Brent Wissick. 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.

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