What if Louis XIV were living today and curated his court composers with musicians like Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, or Adele?
Using 17th century French songs as inspiration Emi Ferguson’s debut album Amour Cruel, does just that, fusing together old instruments with modern styles and production to create an album full of soaring vocals accompanied by lush flutes, sparkling guitars, and a killer beat.
Emi Ferguson Spins Tales of Love Gone Bad With New Bilingual Album,
For renowned musician Emi Ferguson, the lines between classical and pop music have long been blurred. As a vocalist and Juilliard trained flute player, one of her primary goals is to show that the lines we draw between genres are entirely of our own creation and largely 20th and 21st Century concepts. This was Ferguson’s approach when she wrote and recorded Amour Cruel, an 11-song album in French and English, inspired by French compositions dating back to the 16th Century. The album is set for release on September 14th through Arezzo Music.
Ms. Ferguson imagined how these compositions would sound if they were produced as pop, R&B, jazz, folk, new age and world music. She envisioned modern versions of these French songs with artists such as Andrew Bird, Adele, Kanye West, or Arcade Fire performing at Versailles in the 17th Century.
“There is a thirst for an album of this nature,” said Ms. Ferguson of her first vocal album. "Amour Cruel will resonate with people who might not necessarily listen to classical music, let alone early French Baroque songs. It pays homage to Early Music while combining it with contemporary Baroque Pop.”
The lyrics of Amour Cruel are a mixture of English translations and original and pre-18th Century French poetry—each telling stories of tragic, unrequited, and lost love, often drawing reference to antiquity. Many of the lyrics speak to the influence of the Renaissance striving for the artistic ideals that were thought to be present in the golden age of antiquity. With Amour Cruel, Ms. Ferguson deconstructed and rebuilt songs of the past, turning them into works that resonate with today's audience.
“I assembled a team of musicians, who are virtuosi in several genres, and we fused the sounds of old instruments and new,” Ms. Ferguson added. “We created a unique sound with a depth of diversity that will inspire audiences today – theorbos and electric guitars, baroque flutes and drum sets.
Anne Midgette discusses Amour Cruel for the Washington Post. Read here.
“Amour Cruel” is a kind of baroque pop, music about love and heartache presented with a direct, melodious, earthy singer-songwriter vibe — Lana Del Rey channeling Louis XIV’s court."
Clément Thiery discusses Amour Cruel for France Amerique. Read here.
"Emi Ferguson, professor at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, is giving 17th-century baroque music a second lease of life."
English-American performer and composer Emi Ferguson stretches the boundaries of what is expected of modern-day musicians. Emi’s unique approach to the flute can be heard in performances that alternate between the Silver Flute, Historical Flutes, and Auxiliary Flutes, playing repertoire that stretches from the Renaissance to today. Her debut album, Amour Cruel, an indie-pop song cycle inspired by the music of the 17th century French court was released in September 2017 and spent four weeks on the Classical, Classical Crossover, and World Albums Billboard Charts.
Emi won First Prize in the National Flute Association’s Young Artist Competition, the New York Flute Club Young Artist competition, the Mid-Atlantic Flute Competition, the Juilliard Concerto Competition, the J.C. Arriaga Chamber Music Competition, and was a recipient of the 2014 Salon de Virtuosi grant. She has spoken and performed at several TEDX events and has been featured on media outlets including The Discovery Channel and Juilliard Digital's TouchPress apps talking about how music relates to our world today.
Emi was a featured performer alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, and James Taylor at the 10th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony of 9/11 at Ground Zero, where her performance of Amazing Grace was televised worldwide. Her performance that day is now part of the permanent collection at the 9/11 Museum.
Having passions for both “new” and “old” music, Emi is the only flutist to have worked simultaneously with conductors James Levine, Pierre Boulez, and William Christie on modern and baroque flutes in Lucerne, New York, and France.
Emi is currently on the faculty of the Juilliard School. She was the first person to graduate from Juilliard with Undergraduate and Graduate degrees with Scholastic Distinction in flute performance, as well as a second Graduate degree in Historical Performance as a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. While pursuing her Undergraduate degree, Emi additionally studied Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
Born in Japan and raised in London and Boston, she now resides in New York City.