Anna and Anton have come together to attract attention to the long neglected duo repertoire for the Baroque lute duo. United by a mutual fascination they wanted to help shed light upon music which was written during the final twilight hours of the lute’s bright history. They were the first to perform and record the recently discovered duet compositions of Francois du Fault and transcriptions of the Marin Marais’ duet viola da gamba compositions for two baroque lutes. This resulted in a program «Baroque Lute Duets” which was released on CD in 2002. Later they started to work on duo repertoire for other combinations of historical plucked instruments, especially baroque guitar and theorbo. Showcasing the contrasting styles of different cultures, the program “Baroque Insight” moves us from solemn music of great Italian lute and theorbo players (Allessandro Piccinini and Girolamo Kapsberger) to the temperamental style of the first Spanish guitar virtuosi (Gaspar Sanz and Santiago de Murcia) and melancholic mood of French baroque masters (R. de Visée and F. Couperin). Vast project dedicated to works of Johann Sebastian Bach covers solo works for lute including lute versions of solo violin and cello compositions as well as transcriptions of other instrumental works of the master for two 24 string Baroque lutes.
Recent activity of the duo concerns also 19th century music for romantic guitar. Using copies of 6 string guitars of the 19th century maker Rene Lete, strung with gut strings, the musicians perform works of J.K.Mertz, F. Sor, F. Chopin, Napoleon Coste. The high point of this program is the transcription of the famous organ work by Cesar Frank, Prelude Fugue & Variation, op.18
Anna and Anton successfully presented these programs across Europe performing in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Switzerland.
Anna Kowalska studied lute with Toyohiko Satoh and Nigel North at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands. Anna has covered a vast repertoire from the Renaissance to late Baroque including 19th century repertoire for historical guitar. Her love of music extends beyond the lute – she has studied and also performed on a classical guitar, piano and violin. This diversity constantly fuels her interest in venturing beyond the limits of original instrumental works for baroque guitar, lute and different combinations of historical plucked instruments. Anna’s father Dimity, was a good amateur player of the button accordion and always supported her different interests. In fact he was often the first person to introduce her to different styles of music. This partly led to Anna’s fascination with the Celtic tradition – the sound of the English concertina and fiddle are a great passion that she carries with her to the present day and combines it with baroque music for the lute family instruments. Anna is teaching lute and 19th century guitar at the Felix Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, Poland and at the Frederic Chopin Music College in Warsaw.
Anton Birula began his musical education with piano and classical guitar. In the beginning of the 1990s he also completed his master studies majoring in Art Photography. In the dark room of a photo laboratory Anton listened to enormous amounts of music and was drawn in by the lute works of Silvius Leopold Weiss and Johann Sebastian Bach. This fascination eventually led him to Holland and Germany where he studied the lute with Prof. Toyohiko Satoh at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague and with Prof. Konrad Junghaenel at the Hochschule fur Musik in Cologne. With his concentration on the extant solo literature for the Baroque lute, Anton has performed numerous lute recitals featuring the music of J.S. Bach, S.L. Weiss and the French lutenists. As a theorbo player Anton Birula has worked on a vast amount of musical literature with numerous ensembles, specializing in vocal music by 17th century Italian and English composers and the French viola da gamba music of Marin Marais and Antoine Forqueray. Anton Birula is a lute teacher at the Felix Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, Poland and at the Frederic Chopin Music College in Warsaw, where he is also the head of the Harpsichord, Organ and Early music department.