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The spirit of the ancient music of the Celtic Isles is resurrected by Ensemble Galilei. Combining classical and folk instrumentation and incorporating a high level of improvisation, the all-woman, Washington, D.C.-based, band creates a sound that seamlessly blends the old world and modern influences. The Ensemble Galilei's unique approach to eighteenth century Irish airs, jigs and reels, Welsh songs and Breton dance tunes earned them a WAMMIE award from the Washington Area Music Association as "Best Chamber Ensemble", in 1994. "The Washington Post' praised the group for its "Virtuoso technique, an instinctive feeling for the idiom and the courage to improvise". Reviewing a peformance by the band, "The San Francisco Bay Guardian" wrote, "medieval and renaissance tunes, beautifully rendered". The Ensemble Galilei, which takes its name from 16th century composer Vincenzo Galilei, was formed by Maggie Sansone (hammered dulcimer), Carolyn Anderson Surrick (viola de gamba), Sue Richards (Celtic harp), Marcia Diehl (recorder, pennywhistle, bowed psaltery) and Jim Brooks. After numerous personnel changes, the group currently features Nancy Karpeles (percussion), Liz Knowles (fiddle), Deborah Nuse (pipes), Sarah Weiner (oboe, pennywhistles), Surrick and Richards. The Ensemble Galilei's debut album, "Music In The Great Hall" was recorded during a Washington D.C. concert. Their second album, "Ancient Noels", sold over 17,000 copies in the first three months after its release in 1994. Four years later, the group recorded, "The Mystic And The Muse", an album-length tribute to women composers of the past six centuries.
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