Ruckus is a shapeshifting, collaborative baroque band with a visceral and playful approach to early music. The ensemble debuted in Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo in a production directed by Christopher Alden featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo, Ambur Braid and Davóne Tines at National Sawdust. The band’s playing earned widespread critical acclaim: “achingly delicate one moment, incisive and punchy the next” (New York Times); “superb” (Opera News).
Ruckus’s core is a continuo group, the baroque equivalent of a jazz rhythm section: guitars, keyboards, cello, bassoon and bass. Other members include soloists of the violin, flute and oboe. The ensemble aims to fuse the early-music movement’s questing, creative spirit with the grit, groove and jangle of American roots music, creating a unique sound of “rough-edged intensity” (New Yorker). Its members are assembled from among the most creative and virtuosic performers in North American early music, and is based in New York City.
Ruckus’ debut album, Fly the Coop, a collaboration with flutist Emi Ferguson, was Billboard’s #2 Classical album upon its release. Live performances of Fly the Coop in Cambridge, MA was described as “a fizzing, daring display of personality and imagination” (New York Times).
"Ruckus refuses to take themselves too seriously... Ruckus’ intention to upend the notion of what classical ensembles are supposed to sound like; namely, that the stance between them and progressive roots-music groups like the Punch Brothers is shockingly small." (Houston Chronicle)
2022 found Ruckus making many auspicious debuts, including as baroque band in residence at The Ojai Festival - their many performances garnered wide-spread acclaim:
"the world’s only period-instrument rock band" (San Francisco Classical Voice)
"It was an all-Bach program Saturday morning — featuring the period-instrument ensemble Ruckus and AMOC’s star flutist, Emi Ferguson — that shifted the mood of the festival 180-degrees. Suddenly, there was a tangible sense of joy as the musicians infused Bach’s sonatas, partitas, and preludes with a combination of period precision and jazz-like energy. It inspired the audience and was echoed by a chorus of birds in the trees that surround Libbey Bowl." (Jim Farber, San Francisco Classical Voice)
With Holy Manna, a participatory introduction to early American hymns from the New England school through to the shape-note tradition, Ruckus has begun a multi-project exploration of histories of American music. Other upcoming projects include a co-commission of a large-scale work by pioneering artist and NEA Jazz Master Roscoe Mitchell as part of a Bach / Bird Festival (with The Metropolis Ensemble and the Immanuel Wilkins Quartet), a recital of George Frederic Handel & Ignatius Sancho featuring Rachell Ellen Wong and Emi Ferguson, and dances of Neil Gow with violinist Keir GoGwilt.
Ruckus is represented by Alliance Artist Management.