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Musicians in Residence

Renaissance Jukebox

Five musicians holding lutes and other period instruments

Renaissance Jukebox, the Center’s Musicians in Residence, perform renaissance and early baroque English lute songs, ballads, and traditional folk songs accompanied on lutes and viols. As regular performers in our concert series and holiday gatherings, their concerts often creatively feature pairings of 16th and 17th-century English music with modern folk and singer-songwriter selections that evoke the same message, mood, or imagery.

Donald Cotter is a founding member of the Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble, and sang with the Five College Collegium from 1994 until the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. As a member of Circa 1600 and AyreCraft, he has performed renaissance vocal music, including English lute song, around the Pioneer Valley for the last decade or so. By day, he teaches chemistry at Mount Holyoke College. Combining his interests in the history of science and early music, he has edited and performed Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens, 1617, a series of alchemical emblems and musical fugues. As a much younger man, he performed for Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling on the occasion of Pauling’s 90th birthday, which remains the highlight of his musical and scientific careers.

At the height of the 1960s folk revival Meg Pash was performing in a San Antonio coffeehouse while studying classical guitar and voice. She continued voice studies at New England Conservatory where she discovered renaissance music and dance, eventually joining the early music faculty. As a founding member of Boston Renaissance Ensemble, she won the Noah Greenberg Award and toured extensively in the U.S. and western Europe. She moved to the Pioneer Valley in the mid-1990s, and joined the faculty of the Five College Early Music Program where she currently teaches dance and lute, and coaches ensembles. In addition to Renaissance Jukebox, she has performed with groups in diverse genres from folk to rock to renaissance polyphony, including the early music ensembles Circa 1600 and AyreCraft, and is a member of the singer-songwriter trio Muse3.1.

Northampton-based multi-instrumentalist Christopher Stetson (lutes, mandolin), has been performing 16th- and 17th-century music since the early 1970s, though his far-ranging interests have taken him on musical journeys to Japan, Indonesia, Cambodia, China, the British isles, and New England. He has performed around the area with The Waterfield Consort, Khmer Music Awakened, Isshin Taiko, Circa 1600, AyreCraft, The Cambridge Court Dance Band, the Smith College Gamelan, and as a soloist on lute, guitar, shakuhachi, and gu qin. Aside from Renaissance Jukebox, he currently performs as a member of Serenata Mandolin Trio and Rocky Road String Band. A former harpsichord and pipe organ technician, he worked for 20 years as an Infant/Toddler teacher at the Smith College Center for Early Childhood Education at Fort Hill.

McKay Perry began studying the violin at a young age, and completed her undergraduate performance studies at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. There she studied classical performance as well as old time and bluegrass fiddle music. She began playing early music during her master’s at UMass in music history, where she played with the Five College Early Music Collegium and Renaissance and Baroque Dance Band. As a musicologist her interests range from early music to American musical theater, and she has programmed concerts and presented research on the English madrigal in the course of her master’s study.

Liam Birkerts will play anything that can reasonably be described as 'a box with strings,' though he specializes in the double bass, bass guitar, viola da gamba, guitar, oud, baroque cello, lute and ukulele. Liam has studied jazz, improvised music, and composition at the New England Conservatory, Hampshire College, and UMass Amherst, holds a master's degree in classical composition, and has taught music at Hampshire College, UMass Amherst, Amherst College, and the Academy at Charlemont.