Philadelphia native Sylvia Berry has performed extensively at home and abroad as a soloist and chamber musician. Hailed by Early Music America as "a complete master of rhetoric, whether in driving passagework or [in] cantabile adagios,” she is known not only for her exciting performances, but for her engaging commentary about the music and the instruments she plays. Her disc of Haydn's London Sonatas - recorded for Acis on an 1806 Broadwood - garnered critical acclaim. A review in Fanfare enthused, “To say that Berry plays these works with vim, vigor, verve, and vitality, is actually a bit of an understatement.”
Ms. Berry is one of North America's leading exponents of the fortepiano, as well as other historical keyboard instruments, including the harpsichord, virginal, and clavichord. She dedicates herself to the performance practices of the 18th and early 19th centuries, with an avid interest in the sociological phenomena surrounding the music of that period. In addition to her performing activities, Ms. Berry is a respected scholar and has written and lectured widely on these topics.
Starting with the viola at age eleven and the piano at age thirteen, Berry went on to study at the New England Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague in the Nertherlands. As a student in the field of early music, she was fortunate to study and coach chamber with many luminaries and pioneers, including Malcolm Bilson, Lisa Goode Crawford, David Boe, Wilbert Hazelzet, Elizabeth Wallfisch, and Eric Hoeprich.
Highlights of past performances include appearances on the Fringe Series of the Utrecht Early Music Festival; the Benton Fletcher Collection at Fenton House in London; “Drive Time Live” on WGBH Radio; the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; the Cambridge Society for Early Music; the Connecticut Early Music Festival; the Portland (ME) Early Music Festival. She is also active as a writer, penning numerous sets of CD liner notes (most notably for Bart van Oort's recordings of The Complete Keyboard Works of Mozart released in 2006) as well as articles for magazines and journals such as Early Music America, Keyboard Perspectives (the yearbook of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies) and the Journal of European Piano Teachers Association: Netherlands and Belgium Edition.
Her ensemble The Berry Collective features a rotating cast of some of today’s best performers in the field of Early Music who perform in orchestras such as The Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, Tafelmusik, A Far Cry, Anima Eterna Brugge, and Grand Harmonie. The focus is on music ranging from the time of Schobert (a little-known German composer working in France whose music was very influential to composers such as Mozart and Boccherini) to Schubert, a beloved titan of early romanticism whose music shines forth with new brilliance when performed on historical instruments.