Trio Sonnerie is among the longest-established and highly regarded chamber groups working
in Europe today. Founded in 1982 as a violin, viola da gamba, and harpsichord trio, it
evolved into a more flexible group, which has allowed it to perform such repertoire as Bach
cantatas and concertos, as well as works by Classical and early-Romantic composers. It has
now returned to performing in the more intimate trio format. Along with its alter ego,
Sonnerie, Trio Sonnerie has made countless recordings and performed at major early-music
Monica Huggett took up the violin at age six. Her talent became apparent quickly, and it
was decided by her parents and teachers that she would become a violinist, which saved her
from the agony of having to decide what to do with her life.
At age 16, she entered the Royal Academy of Music as a student of Manoug Parikian.
Although she did well and won several prizes, she was not entirely comfortable with her
instrument until she was given a Baroque violin. She was immediately won over by the mellow
quality of the gut strings, and became a fervent champion of the instrument. In the
intervening decades, Monica co-founded the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra with Ton Koopman,
founded Sonnerie, and worked with Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music, as
well as Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert. She also performs frequently as a solo
violinist all over the world, and directs the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Irish
Monica is the recipient of awards that include the 2005 Vantaa Baroque Energy Prize
(Finland) and the 2002 Gramophone Award for Best Instrumental Recording. In 2009,
her CD Music for a Young Prince (Sonnerie) won a Diapason d'Or and was
nominated for a Grammy Award. Currently, Monica is artistic advisor and artist-in-residence
at The Juilliard School.
Emilia Benjamin discovered her desire to be a professional musician (rather than just a
dilettante violinist) when she took up the treble viol while studying art history at the
University of East Anglia. She went on to study the viol and Baroque violin at the
Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and then viol with Wieland Kuijken in Brussels. In
addition, Emilia plays viola and lirone, and currently performs on all four instruments on
a fairly even basis.
Emilia's musical life has covered a wide range: She has been a member of the viol consort
Concordia for many years, and currently plays treble and tenor viol with Phantasm, directed
by Laurence Dreyfus, as well as with Sonnerie, with which she has performed since 1995. She
has played everything from English divisions and French Baroque works to Mozart quartets,
Bach concertos, and Mendelssohn piano quartets; early Italian opera on the viol and lirone
at the Glyndebourne Festival and with the Early Opera Company, Norwegian State Opera, and
Oper Frankfurt, among others; and Baroque orchestral and chamber works with the Irish
Baroque Orchestra, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Dunedin Consort, and Orchestra of the Age
of Enlightenment. Emilia has also performed for productions of Twelfth Night,
Measure for Measure, and Anne Boleyn at Shakespeare's Globe.
James Johnstone has been active as a soloist and continuo player for more than two
decades. He has performed and recorded with all of the major UK-based period instrument
ensembles, in addition to groups in Germany, Canada, Italy, and Holland. James has worked
with such conductors as Bernard Haitink and Sir Simon Rattle, as well as with the Chicago
and Boston symphony orchestras. His current activities include recitals, chamber music, and
teaching. As a recitalist, he has performed throughout the UK, Holland, Germany,
Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Israel, Colombia, and the US.
James appears on 22 recordings on Deutsche Grammophon with the Gabrieli Consort and
Players, as well as on 10 discs with Florilegium; in addition, he was the first European to
record on an 18th-century organ built by indigenous Indians in Santa Ana, Bolivia. He has
recorded six solo discs and will soon release a CD of Bach's Clavier-Übung III,
recorded on the Wagner organ in Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral.
In addition to Trio Sonnerie, James currently works with the Monteverdi Choir, Trinity
Baroque, I Furiosi, Harmonie Universelle Cologne, and La Serenissima. He is a professor of
early keyboards at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at Trinity Laban
Conservatoire of Music and Dance.