About Us

Quirky photo of Janna, Phil, Nerea (with theorbo), Joe and Dick

Sospiri is a baroque ensemble based out of St. Paul, Minnesota offering evocative performances that combine voices with period instruments in repertoire centered around the 17th century. Artists in the ensemble strive to use historically-informed practices, consulting treatises and musical editions of the period, and using ornamentation and improvisation when appropriate. Sospiri particularly aims to follow the baroque ideal of moving the affections by heightening emotional contrasts in the text and music, while also exploring the playful aspects of the baroque in its canzonettas, villanelles, and ciacconas.

Nerea Berraondo, Mezzo-Soprano

Nerea Berraondo is a native of Pamplona, Spain. She has performed principal opera roles around the world, including such roles as Adrastro and Creusa in Demofonte (Gluck) at Theatre an der Wien in Vienna; Lucio in Catone in Utica (Vivaldi) at Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris; Malika in Lakmé at Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile; La Messaggiera in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at Teatro Real in Madrid. Additional performance highlights include symphonic repertoire performances with violinist Gidon Kremer at the Spanish premiere of Styx by Gija Kantschelli, as well as guest solos with Orquesta Sinfónica de Valencia, The Saint Paul Chamber Orquestra, The Great Bridgeport Symphony, Orquesta Sinfónica de Bilbao, Orquesta Sinfónica de Bizkaia, Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra, Complesso Barocco, Concerto di Cavallieri, Lyra Baroque, and the Bach Society of Minnesota.

Ms. Berraondo has worked with early music conductors and orchestras including Eduardo López Banzo, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Alan Curtis, Jacques Ogg, Simon Carrington, Marcelo di Lisa, Matthias Maute, Pedro Gandía, Josetxu Obregón, Marian Rosa Montagut. Recently she has recorded Biagio Marini’s vocal music with her ensemble Aldatu on the Arsis recording label and Demofonte by Gluck with il Complesso Barocco conducted by Alan Curtis.

Ms. Berraondo has won international prizes and competitions including Juventudes Musicales de España and Julián Gayarre International Singing Competition. In 2012 she was bestowed a Merit Award by the Centro Nacional de Difusión Musical (CNDM). She has had the honor of performing at the opening recital of the CNDM season with Eduardo López Banzo. Ms. Berraondo has also offered comparable solo recitals in London, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Janna Kysilko, Soprano

Janna Kysilko is a versatile soprano with a performance history that ranges from baroque opera to contemporary art song. While a graduate student at The Eastman School of Music, she studied baroque performance practice with Paul O’Dette, performed with one of his collegium groups, and also appeared in opera workshops as Euridice in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and Sophie in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. Recent operatic roles in the Twin Cities include Amore in La Dafne with Bold North Baroque Opera at the Twin Cities Early Music Festival, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, and Jenny in Sondheim’s Company at Century Theatre. Janna can also regularly be seen singing with Opera on Tap Minneapolis, performing arias and scenes in a fun, casual setting.

Notable concert appearances include performances on the Schubert Club’s Courtroom Concert Series and the Thursday Musical Artist Series, a guest solo with the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra in Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, and solos with the Festival Chorale of her alma mater, Macalester College. With a particular love of German Lieder inspired by her years living in Vienna, she has collaborated with many fine keyboardists in art song performances, including Shih-Hsing Chang, Kola Owolabi, and Kristian Bezuidenhout while at Eastman, as well as with Barbara Brooks, Christine Dahl, and Gail Olszewski in her native Twin Cities.

Phillip Rukavina, Continuo (Theorbo, Lute, Guitar)

Phillip Rukavina performs as a lute and vihuela soloist and as a continuo lutenist. He’s appeared at many music festivals specializing in early music, including the Utrecht Early Music Festival (2013) and the Boston Early Music Festival (2015). In 2017, Phillip was invited to perform as a soloist at the European Lute Festival in Füssen, Germany (2017) and at the Lute Society of America’s 2017 WestFest held in Victoria, BC Canada.

Phillip is a founding member of the Venere Lute Quartet and has performed with many prominent ensembles, including the Newberry Consort, the Texas Early Music Project, the Rose Ensemble, the Bach Society MN and with renowned sopranos Emma Kirkby and Ellen Hargis. He has served on the faculty of the Lute Society of America’s LuteFest in Cleveland, OH and the Amherst and Vancouver Early Music Festivals. He has recorded on the Lyrichord, LSA, and Naxos labels. His fifth Studio395 solo release, Dutch Light: the Lute Music of Nicolas Vallet, was issued in winter of 2017.

Bruce Jacobs, Continuo (organ, harpsichord)

Bruce Jacobs

Bruce Jacobs, (continuo organ), is heard frequently in the Twin Cities. Since his musical debut at First Avenue, he has performed with the Eglantine Consort, Waltham Abbey Singers, Ensemble Polaris, Bach Society of Minnesota, Lyra Baroque Orchestra, Elm Ensemble, Hymnus, The Rose Ensemble, Consortium Carissimi and the National Lutheran Choir. He was a founding member of Banchetto Musicale, a leading baroque ensemble in Fargo-Moorhead. Jacobs studied pipe organ performance with Ruth Berge at Concordia College in Moorhead and continuo through the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute. He is Chief Technologist at Twin Cities Public Television.

Joe Dolson, Baroque Violin

Joe Dolson is associate concertmaster of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra. He has freelanced as a violinist within the Twin Cities since graduating from Macalester College in 2000, performing everything from high-concept performance art music with composer Franz Kamin, to classical and romantic string quartet music with the Elderberry String Quartet, to traditional English and Scottish Country Dance music. His forays into historical dance forms, in turn, led him to an interest in studying baroque performance practice with violinist Marc Levine.

Joe also plays in a violin duo with MPO stand partner Catherine Himmerich. Together, they have worked extensively on sets of violin duos by diverse artists such as Violet Archer, Bela Bartok, Victoria Bond, Paul Hindemith, LeClair, and the Cure.

Guest Artists

Maria Jette, Soprano

Maria Jette, soprano, has appeared with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra: the Symphonies of Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Charlotte, Santa Rosa and Buffalo; Vocalessence (formerly The Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota), the Handel Choir of Baltimore, Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, and Los Angeles Master Chorale; and with original instrument ensembles Angelica Cantanti, Portland Baroque Orchestra and The Lyra Baroque Orchestra. She has been a regular guest at the Oregon Bach, Victoria Bach and San Luis Obispo Mozart Festivals, the Oregon Festival of American Music, and on Public Radio International’s A Prairie Home Companion. With conductor Helmuth Rilling, she has sung Bach, Mozart and Monteverdi in Germany, Spain, Japan, and Canada, as well as in Minneapolis, New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. In a 20+ year association with conductor Philip Brunelle, she first appeared as the coloratura dog, Fido, in Britten’s Paul Bunyan; and has gone on to sing everything from fully-staged operas by Mozart opera and Virgil Thomson through oratorios by Handel, William Bolcom and Francis Grier, and most recently, Dominick Argento’s glorious Evensong (2009).

Her 45+ operatic roles range from Monteverdi’s Poppea and Handel’s Cleopatra through Mozart’s Pamina, Countess and Fiordiligi, many of them with the late, lamented Ex Machina Antique Music Theatre in the Twin Cities. With The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, she starred as the Mrs. in the May 2002 premiere of Garrison Keillor’s operatic excursion, Mr. and Mrs. Olson. She has performed her own production of Seuss/Kapilow’s Green Eggs & Ham for more than 50,000 kids, with symphonies and music festivals around the USA.

Mary Burke, viola da gamba

Mary Burke, viola da gamba, has appeared as a soloist and chamber  musician across the US with numerous ensembles, including Consortium  Carissimi, the Rose Ensemble, Catacoustic Consort, Bach Society of  Minnesota, Ensemble Polaris, the Gregorian Singers, Duo Geminiani, and 

Camerata Pacifica Baroque, and has toured with the crossover group  Ensemble Galilei.  She has performed at the Bloomington Early Music Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival, and the Bach Festivals of  Baldwin-Wallace College and the University of Minnesota. Ms. Burke has 

recorded on Naxos, Sony Classical, Voces Novae, and treblehook records, and has been heard on Minnesota Public Radio, NPR, WNYC, and Concert FM (New Zealand). 

Michelle Wenderlich, violone

Michelle Wenderlich (pronouns: they/them) has worked, toured and recorded with many of the top early music orchestras and conductors in Europe, such as Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Leipziger Barockorchester and Die Kölner Akademie, as well as with innovative crossover groups like Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop and Pera Ensemble. They work locally with La Grande Bande, Bach Society of Minnesota, Consortium Carissimi, and Flying Forms. After studying with Joe Carver at Stony Brook University they moved to Europe for early music studies with Dane Roberts at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts.

They also have performance degrees from the Orchestra of the Enlightenment and the Formation Supérieure of the Abbaye aux Dames de Saintes, in cooperation with l’Orchestre de Champs-Elysées, specializing in period classical and romantic orchestra and chamber music. They have been featured as a soloist, especially for Viennese bass repertoire, at the Limberger Musiktage and Baroque Nights in the Frankfurt area. They received the Edith Salvo Music Prize at Stony Brook and were supported by a Postgraduate Fellowship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation for musical studies in Germany. Michelle moved back to the US for doctoral studies and is currently completing a Ph.D. in human geography while remaining an active performer. 

Ginna Watson, baroque violin, vielle, and rebec

Ginna Watson, baroque violin

Ginna Watson is a Minneapolis-based violinist who specializes in historically-informed performance. She plays baroque violin and viola with the Lyra Baroque Orchestra and medieval bowed strings and harp with The Rose Ensemble for Early Music. Ginna also performs with Consortium Carissimi and Sprezzatura, ensembles dedicated to performing 17th-century music on historic instruments.

Ginna has performed in concert series and festivals around the country, including the Boston Early Music Festival, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, and Princeton
University. She is concertmaster of the annual Early Music Montana festival. Internationally, she has performed throughout France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Bolivia. Ginna frequently gives masterclasses on medieval and baroque performance practice, including Houston Baptist University, Colorado State University, Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity in Los Angeles. Ginna is the violin instructor at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Dick Hensold, Bagpipes and Recorders

Dick Hensold (B.M., Oberlin Conservatory) is a freelance musician specializing in early music, traditional music of Scotland, Northumberland, and Cape Breton Island, and Cambodian traditional music. He performs on Northumbrian small-pipes (a quiet bagpipe), Montgomery smallpipes (an historical smallpipe), recorder, medieval greatpipes, Swedish bagpipes, traditional Cambodian reed instruments, seljefløyte, and low whistle. He is currently the foremost Northumbrian smallpiper in North America, has performed in both Scotland and England, and has taught Northumbrian smallpipes at workshops in the United States, Canada, and Northumberland.

Hensold has regularly appeared as recorder soloist with the Twin Cities-based baroque orchestra Lyra Concert since 1986, also appearing with the Chicago Early Music Consort, Ex Machina, Circle of Sound, and the Minnesota Orchestra. His research interest in early Scottish music resulted in a lecture and concert appearance at the 1997 Lowland and Border Piper’s Society collogue in Peebles, Scotland. The proceedings of this conference, along with Hensold’s two other related papers, were published as “Out of the Flames” in 2004.

He is principal composer and arranger for the Celtic-oriented quartet Piper’s Crow, and also performs with several other folk groups and as part of a 4-piece traditional Cambodian ensemble. He released his solo CD, Big Music for Northumbrian Smallpipes, in August 2007. He is a 2006 Bush Artist Fellow.