The foundation of the Earle his Viols (Irene Klein, Jessica Marshall, Brigitte Gasser, Randall Cook) took place in 1999 following a stimulating ensemble project at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis combining the Renaissance viol class of Randall Cook with the inspirational leadership of Anthony Rooley. The experience of this project excited the desire to continue and intensify the work.
All four members of the consort studied at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and bring many years of musical experience amongst different ensembles and styles to the group. Their common enthusiasms are consort playing and the search for new and exciting repertoire. The Earle his Viols values in particular a homogenous sound, reflecting the particular repertoire and style. This ensures not only an intensive interest in the music itself, but is also reflected in a keen interest in the instruments and bows themselves. Formerly ignored historical models, strings and bows, together with various tuning systems are explored by the group. The name of the group is a tribute to Richard Earle, the maker of the viols used by the consort. His model of a Renaissance viol was developped following a commission from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and the design of the instruments is based on instruments represented in a painting by Tintoretto (Concert of the Nymphs, 1580). In form and construction the instruments differ substantially from the few surviving, usually heavily altered, instruments of the 16th century and are even further removed from the later English and French models. The instruments are strung with gut, even lower strings. The bows (by Arno Jochem and Konstantin Krutzsch) also follow iconographical models of the 16th century.