Southern Harmony features RUCKUS, in collaboration with Bass-baritone John Taylor Ward, in a revisionary exploration of one of the first uniquely American repertoires, Shape Note music. Born out of ecstatic religious experiences in the early American wilderness, this body of work contains the melodic and harmonic DNA of American roots music. Ruckus and Ward arrange selections of this repertoire for the warm colors and rhythmic grit of 18th-century instruments and solo voice, condensing and reframing these songs to hint at both their origins and future influence.
John Taylor Ward’s performances have been praised for their “Stylish abandon” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker) and their “finely calibrated precision and heart-rending expressivity” (Washington Post). He performs regularly with the world’s finest baroque musicians and ensembles, including Christina Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata, Paul O’Dette, Steven Stubbs and the Boston Early Music Festival, William Christie and Les arts florissants, and Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists. In 2016, he was featured in the U.S. premiere of Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus, directed by Peter Sellars at the Ojai Festival, and he began a series of recitals at Joe’s Pub with Cantata Profana. In 2017 he made his debuts at the Salzburg, Berlin, and Luzerne Festspieles. Upcoming highlights include Berio’s Sinfonia with the New York Philharmonic and Nick Shadow in Igor Stravinski’s The Rake’s Progress, conducted by Barbara Hannigan in Gothenburg, Sweden. Taylor holds a BM from the Eastman School of Music and an MMA from Yale School of Music; he is the founding Associate Artistic Director of the Lakes Area Music Festival, an Associate Artist of Heartbeat Opera, and an avid Sacred Harp singer.