About Les Touches Founded in 2011 by Pedro Funes-Whittington at the Jacobs School of Music and the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, Les Touches is a viol ensemble whose core repertoire includes the works of many of England’s most prominent early music composers such as William Byrd and John Coprario, as well as the works of composers whose work deserves wider recognition, such as George Jeffreys and Peter Phillips. They have performed across the United States, working with groups such as Texas Early Music Project and the South Dakota Chorale, and continue to actively pursue collaboration with other musicians and ensembles. In 2014, Les Touches held its inaugural season in Texas and began a partnership with Viols of Houston, with whom they provide outreach programs in local schools. In 2015, Les Touches was named one of the 10 finalists in the York Young Artist International Competition in 2015. Today, Les Touches continues to share their passion for the viol and make its fascinating consort repertoire accessible to their community in Southeast Texas.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Pedro Funes-Whittington is the Orchestra Director at Bonnette Junior High in Deer Park ISD. He also is the director of Viols of Deer Park which is open to orchestra students at Bonnette JH and Deer Park HS. He graduated from the University of Houston where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Double Bass Performance under Dennis Whittaker. In addition, he received his Master's Degree in Early Music Performance at Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where he studied viola gamba and vielle with Wendy Gillespie and performed baroque bass in the IU Baroque Orchestra under Stanley Ritchie. He co-founded Les Touches in 2011 and led the group to become one of the 10 finalists in the York Young Artist International Competition in 2015. He was previously the Orchestra Director at Park View Intermediate School in Pasadena ISD, Assistant Orchestra Director at Oak Ridge HS in Conroe ISD and Assistant Orchestra Director at Woodcreek MS in Humble ISD where numerous Sweepstakes have been received by the orchestras under his direction. While at Woodcreek MS the orchestras won Commended in Mark of Excellence in 2019, 2020 with Chamber orchestra and Citation of Excellence in 2020 and 2022 with Sinfonia Orchestra (non-varsity). He founded Aquila Di Guerra (2015-2019) and Viols of the Creek (2019-2023), viol ensembles that featured students from the public school (Oak Ridge HS and Woodcreek MS); they were featured at the Boston Early Music Festival in 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023. He has performed across Texas with Austin Baroque Orchestra (Principal Bass), Ars Lyrica, La Folia, Austin Troubadours, Bach Society of Houston and Texas Early Music Project. In addition to performing, he is also the President of Viols of Houston. He has been a faculty member at the Texas Toot and Viola Da Gamba Society of America’s Conclave. He has two cats named Marais and Elsa and married to Kallop Whittington.
Bassist Elisabeth Ellison, native of Houston, has been a performing and recording musician since the 1970s. In high school, she was awarded a Student Recording Award by downbeat[sic] Magazine for the Koussevitzky double bass concerto with orchestra. She began viola da gamba in 1979 with Wayne Moss, and is currently a student of gambist Tina Chancey, founder of the early-music ensemble Hesperus. Since majoring in double bass at Northwestern University while performing with several Chicago regional orchestras, and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and music theory at the American Conservatory, Elisabeth undertook continuing study in double bass technique from 2011-2014 at Acadamie Domaine Forget (Quebec). In 2022 she was the first awardee of the Specialist Certificate in Medieval Music Performance Practice from University of Lleida (Catalonia). In addition to double bass, Elisabeth performs on its related instruments: medieval vielle, viola da gamba, violone, and electric bass. She is a member of the Big Sky Music Festival Orchestra and the Renaissance/crossover ensemble Cantiga, and has appeared with many of the region's period-performance ensembles, such as Bach Society Houston, Istanpitta, La Speranza, La Follia Austin Baroque, and Mercury. Elisabeth is married to double bassist and pedagogue Paul Ellison. Further details are kept updated at http://www.eellisonbassist.com .
Kendra Preston Leonard plays treble viol and pardessus de viole for Les Touches. She has studied viol with James Lambert and Sarah Mead, and holds performance degrees and diplomas from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the University of Miami. Also a musicologist and theorist holding a PhD from the University of Sunderland, her research includes early modern music in screen media.
Matthew Dunn is currently a senior Music Education student at Sam Houston State University. He started playing the viol as a junior is high school back in 2018 when Pedro Funes introduced him to the instrument. Since then, he has attended many workshops around the country, performed in the Houston area, and studied with several accomplished viol players. He plans to attend graduate school in Fall 2024 to earn a Masters in Violin Performance, as well as to study the viol more seriously.
Jocelyn Derriene has been playing the viol for 3 years. Starting in the midst of the pandemic in 2020, she joined Viols of Houston after taking tenor viol lessons under Les Touches founder and fellow member Pedro Funes. She also plays the bass viol for the ensemble.