Vinaccesi Ensemble

Songs & Psalmody: Salamone Rossi Hebreo & Benedetto Marcello

11:30 AM Friday, June 6
– 2320 Dana Street, between Bancroft and Durant

Tickets are available in advance at and will be sold at the door on the day of the concert. Prices: $15/10.

The Vinaccesi Ensemble returns to northern Italy in a program of delightful and rarely heard madrigals and canzonettas by the most famous Baroque Jewish composer, Salamone Rossi hebreo of Mantua, and psalm settings from Venetian Benedetto Marcello’s monumental Estro poetico-armonico.  

View the complete program.

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About the Artists

Nanette McGuinness, soprano
Kindra Scharich, mezzo-soprano
Jonathan Smucker, tenor
Kirk Eichelberger, bass
Hallie Pridham, Baroque cello and viola da gamba
Susie Fong, harpsichord
with guest artist Paul Morton, theorbo


Vinaccesi-horizontal-photoThe Vinaccesi Ensemble  ( was founded in 2008 by Nanette McGuinness, Kindra Scharich, and Bruce Wetmore, and first performed as part of the 2008 Berkeley Fringe Festival. The Ensemble focuses on music of the Baroque, especially (but not exclusively) that of Italy and the Veneto, and of course, Italian composer Benedetto Vinaccesi (1666-1719)—for whom the ensemble is named.

The Vinaccesi Ensemble recorded their first CD, of solo cantatas by their namesake, Benedetto Vinaccesi. Benedetto Vinaccesi: the Solo Cantatas, released in spring 2013 on Centaur Recordings (, CRC 3270) and was made possible through the Musical Grant Program, which is administered by the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and supported by the Heller Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.

Previous concerts include Chamber Music at the Legion, Noontime Concerts, Trinity Chamber, Old First Concerts, and several Fringe Fests. Upcoming for 2014 are concerts in San Jose on June 8, and San Francisco on Aug. 1 (French and Italian selections at Midsummer Music at the Mechanics Institute) and Sept. 7 (Songs & Psalmody at Old First Concerts).

Kirk Eichelberger (bass) is an experienced performer with a wealth of concert repertoire and over 50 operatic roles to his credit. He has sung Bach’s B Minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Pärt’s Litany, Mozart’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Verdi’s Requiem. Eichelberger has also performed with Washington National Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Vancouver Opera and The Metropolitan Opera. His best known roles incude Mephistopheles (Faust), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Ferrando (Il Trovatore), Sparafucile (Rigoletto), Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Sarastro (Die ZauberFlöte). Eichelberger has also sung in a number of modern English-language operas including The Emperor (Tan Dun’s Tea), Karenin (David Carlson’s Anna Karenina), John Hale (Robert Ward’s Crucible), Louis (William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge) and the King (Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince.)  A National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1999, he was a Resident Artist with Opera San Jose for three seasons.

Susie Fong (harpsichord) is active as both a soloist and continuo player and has participated in such festivals and workshops as the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, American Bach Soloists Summer Academy, and the Vancouver Early Music Festival. She has an MM in Harpsichord Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Corey Jamason, and received her BA in Music at the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied harpsichord with Laurette Goldberg and played in the Collegium Musicum. Fong is also an accomplished solo and chamber pianist, having studied with Audrey Grigsby and Robert Rios in Southern California. She currently performs in the Bay Area with the San Francisco Bach Choir Baroque Orchestra and Liaison, and teaches harpsichord both privately and in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) Preparatory and Adult Extension Division.

Nanette McGuinness (soprano) has been hailed in the press for her “creamy golden tone,” and “glorious soprano.” She made her debut under the direction of Alan Curtis in the role of Nino in Cesti’s Semiramide. Solo concert engagements include Handel’s Samson, Solomon, and Messiah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Vespers, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, and Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergnes, with the San Jose Symphony, Palo Alto Philharmonic, and others; audiences have heard her in over 25 roles—including Mimì, Cleopatra, Freia, Desdemona, Musetta, Countess Almaviva, First Lady, and Micaela—with the Silesian State (Czech Republic), San Jose (Opera in the Schools), West Bay, Pacific Repertory, Trinity Lyric, and Livermore Valley Operas, among others. She recorded Fabulous Femmes with the Athena Trio and is a founding member of the Vinaccesi Ensemble and the Jewish Music & Poetry Project. McGuinness earned a PhD from UC Berkeley and AB from Cornell University.

Paul Morton (classical guitar and theorbo) is native to the state of Pennsylvania, where he had his first music lessons on his father’s banjo and later the cello. While developing his interest in the guitar through the expressions of American folk music, Morton was granted the opportunity to study guitar with the Cuban virtuoso Ernesto Tamayo. After completing undergraduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory, Morton instructed guitar as well as music history at the Pennsylvania Academy of Music while performing throughout the East Coast. Morton is completing his graduate degree at the SF Conservatory of Music, where he studies 20th century music with Sergio Assad and Baroque performance practice with Richard Savino.

Hallie Pridham (Baroque cello and viola da gamba) graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy in 2005 where she was principal cellist and winner of their 2005 concerto competition. She continued her studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studied modern cello with Jean-Michel Fonteneau and baroque cello and viola da gamba with Elisabeth Reed. In 2007, she was chosen to perform with other members of the SFCM Baroque Ensemble at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for a broadcasted concert. In 2010, she was the winner of the SFCM Baroque Ensemble Concerto Competition and was also the recipient of the outstanding achievement award. She received a scholarship to attend the American Bach Soloists Academy for two consecutive seasons and was chosen to perform in the Boston Early Music Festival with Early Music America’s Young Performer’s Ensemble.

Kindra Scharich (mezzo-soprano) has been praised by The San Francisco Chronicle for her, “noble, vocally assured singing, with stately grace and deep-rooted pathos.” Accustomed to singing in a broad range of styles, she is equally at home on the operatic or concert stage. Current and past season operatic highlights include singing Hansel and Zerlina in Opera San Jose’s productions of Hansel and Gretel and Don Giovanni, as well as the Countess Lydia Ivanovna in their West Coast premiere of David Carlson’s Anna Karenina.  She has also frequently been seen in LA Opera’s “Saturday Morning at the Opera” series. Enthusiastic about working with living composers, in the spring of 2014 Shcarich will premiere new works by composer Kurt Erickson and is currently collaborating with composer Janis Mattox on her Spanish Chamber opera Sueños de Medianoche (Midnight Dreams). Scharich’s participation in the early music scene has included the great choral works of J.S. Bach and over 10 roles in Handel opera and oratorio. She is also a founding member of the Vinaccesi Ensemble.

Jonathan Smucker (tenor) has been praised for performances described as “splendid,”  “secure and expressive,” and “delivered with firm, elegant line.” His repertoire spans more than forty roles, ranging from baroque to contemporary and encompassing opera, oratorio, operetta, and musical theater. Notable credits include Evangelist (St. John Passion), Acis (Acis and Galatea), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Belmonte (The Abduction from the Seraglio), Albert (Albert Herring),and St. Chavez (Four Saints in Three Acts). In demand throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and U.S., he has appeared as soloist with companies including Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, Aspen Opera Theater Center, San Francisco Opera Guild, Festival Opera, West Bay Opera, Ensemble Parallèle, Ash Lawn Opera Festival, The Empyrean Ensemble, and in preview concerts for Opera Santa Barbara. An Ohio native, he earned Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Postgraduate degrees in voice at the SF Conservatory of Music.

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