The Ascoli Ensemble is a vocal ensemble of 6 singers, specialized in rare music of the Middle Ages under the direction of Sasha Zamler-Carhart.
It gained international fame in 2009 for its reconstruction and world premiere concert of the Ascoli Piceno fragments, a newly discovered source of 14th-century polyphony after which the ensemble is named.
Since then, the ensemble has made a name for itself as the specialist of unusual medieval repertoires, bringing lost music back to life after centuries of silence and sharing its passion with audiences around the world.
The Ascoli Ensemble was ensemble-in-residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) in the fall of 2011. It worked with students on reconstruction techniques and present its latest research in public concerts.
In the SoundMe project, the Ascoli Ensemble has a similar role as experimental musicologists/musicians.
Counter-tenor Oscar Verhaar, trained as a musicologist (M.A. Utrecht 2013) as well as a singer (Diploma Royal Conservatory, The Hague 2012) acts as liaison between the Associate Partner and the SoundMe research teams.
Oscar Verhaar started his musical career as a treble in the Rotterdam Boys Choir, with whom he sang many solos both in The Netherlands and abroad (Austria, France, Switzerland, Russia and the US, among others). In June 2012 Oscar completed the Early Music Singing Master at the Royal Conservatory The Hague, where he studied with Michael Chance, Jill Feldman, Lenie van den Heuvel and Peter Kooij.
In September 2014, Oscar was the only male finalist of the Concours de Chant Baroque de Froville in France. In 2010 he won the first prize of the Austria Barock Akademie. In autumn 2015, Oscar was selected as one of the Classical Talents at the Dutch BUMA Classical Convention.
Since 2002 he has been performing as a soloist in the oratorio repertoire, singing the major works by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and others. In 2008 Oscar made his debut at the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht in a recital with music by Constantijn Huygens in the Fabulous Fringe series. On the opera stage he has performed in several baroque operas.
In 2014 an 80 minute-long documentary about Oscar’s time at the Royal Conservatory and his cooperation with his former teacher Geert van den Dungen was broadcasted on Dutch national television. This film, The Voice of the Master, was directed by Hester Overmars.
In 2014 his first solo CD appeared with Quintone records, featuring music by Constantijn Huygens and his contemporaries such as Caccini, Kapsperger and Monteverdi.