The Whole Noyse is celebrating its 25th year as one of the country’s leading early brass ensembles. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the ensemble plays European instrumental music from the 15th through 17th centuries, performing on a wide range of historical band instruments including recorders, flutes, crumhorns, shawms, slide trumpet, gittern, violin, and viola, but primarily on cornetts, sackbuts, curtal, the instruments that made up the primary professional wind group of the 16th and 17th centuries. In tonight’s performance, Stephen Escher and Alex Ospahl play curved cornetts; Richard Van Hessel and Sandy Stadtfeld play sackbuts, or early trombones; and Herbert Myers plays the curtal, ancestor of the bassoon. The group derives its name from a musical term dating from medieval England, when a group of loud wind instruments was called a “noise.” Later, the word came to refer to sets of wind instruments in general: in 1584, an English town band called the Norwich Waits considered a set of five instruments as “beeying a Whoall noyse.”

In addition to their own concerts, which have been enthusiastically received throughout Europe and North America, the Whole Noyse has collaborated with some of America’s most respected early music ensembles, including Magnificat, The King’s Noyse, The Newberry Consort, and Sex Chordæ Consort of Viols, as well as a number of choirs, including the Vancouver Cantata Singers, Pro Coro Canada, San Francisco Choral Artists, and AVE. Last year, the 400th anniversary of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, The they participated in more than a dozen performances of the work in cities all over the US and Canada, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Vancouver, Calgary, and Honolulu. They participated in a staged performance of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo in Edmonton and premiered a composition, “Marina,” written exclusively for them with the San Francisco Choral Artists by local composer Ted Allen. The Whole Noyse has a solo recording, Lo Splendore d’Italia, and can be heard on recordings by Magnificat, the San Francisco Bach Choir, and the Vancouver Cantata Singers. The Vancouver Cantata Singers’ CD Venetian Vespers of 1640 was nominated for a Juno award and won the “Outstanding Choral Award” from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors.