Mixing it up in every way seems to be an apt characterization of Floyds Row, the British-American ensemble of classically trained musicians that will perform their fusion of early, folk and contemporary classical music on period, folk and modern instruments in concert on Oct. 29 at the Kentlands Arts Barn in Gaithersburg.
Violinist Asako Takeuchi succinctly defined the band as “an eclectic mix of backgrounds, personalities and music,” while founder Andrew Arceci went into greater detail. “Numerous terms have been used to describe the ensemble: early, folk, classical, roots, Americana, traditional and newgrass,” he said. “We pull from early British and American repertoire, but offer newly composed works–more classically inspired–as well.”
Arceci, who plays viola da gamba, double bass and cittern, and Chris Ferebee, a composer whose instruments are mandolin, guitar and cittern, met and collaborated on “isolated projects” while studying at the University of Oxford from 2012 through 2014. As for the source of the name the ensemble began using in 2015, Arceci explained, “Floyds Row is the street that leads to the music faculty in Oxford, England. Chris and I… spent many days (and nights) at the music buildings; and subsequently, on and off that street discussing the arts, musicology, paleography, British life, American life, ontology, philosophy, et cetera. We liked the name, but the play on words as well… a row often refers to a quarrel; a clash; an uproar.”
For the Arts Barn performance, five of Floyds Row’s six core musicians—Arceci, Ferebee, Takeuchi, accordionist and pianist George Lykogiannis and soprano and autoharpist Emily Noël—will perform; percussionist Michelle Humphreys will substitute for George Lernis. “Michelle played the last Mid-Atlantic tour with us; (we’re) thrilled she’ll be joining us again,” Arceci said. The program, he added, “will be leaning more to the classical side. We’ll have several arrangements of old works, some renditions of folk-traditional works, and new repertoire.”
Band members find that flexibility and respect for each other’s talents and opinions nurtures their creativity. Although the two founders originally chose most of the music, “lately, we’ve all started to contribute ideas for repertoire,” said Takeuchi. “We create our own arrangements as we play through the songs; they are always changing. We may even change the arrangement depending on the venue and the audience.”
“We each have different types of pieces we’ll bring to rehearsals, and we each have our own spin that we’ll bring to the arrangements. Fortunately, we have a really good group dynamic, making the tinkering and arranging process fun,” Lykogiannis said.
“Someone will have an idea, but we experiment together,” Arceci said. “What’s incredible is that once we explore ideas—arrangements, textures—we often agree if a tune ‘works’ or not.”
In terms of paying gigs, Floyds Row has “more opportunities that we can handle, especially since many of us work with other ensembles throughout the world,” Arceci said, noting that they are looking for a manager to coordinate bookings. Every few months, Lykogiannis said, “we’ll get together for a few days, rehearse like crazy and perform several shows immediately thereafter. We’ve played in all sorts of venues including house concerts, pubs, church series and more formal concert venues.”
The group is “very much still evolving,” Arceci said, but the musicians are all in a row about their goals. “We hope to tour more, performing at more venues like the Arts Barn, hopefully gaining a national following,” Lykogiannis said. “We also hope to record several more albums and perhaps branch into recording scores for films.”
Regardless of the what the future may bring, Lykogiannis said that Floyds Row members are convinced that “we’ve really hit on something unique with our mix of early classical, folk, and contemporary music, and we certainly want to push forward mixing these genres and crossing the lines that separate them in our own take on roots revival music.”
Floyds Row will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. For tickets– $25, $15 for 18 and younger–visit www.gaithersburgmd.gov or call 301-258-6394. View this event on CultureSpotMC here.