ABOUT the ensemble

Our Passion

Fount & Origin is an early music ensemble specialising in vocal music of the late Middle Ages. We are committed to reviving unknown works from this period and evoking the rich cultural and liturgical history accompanying their glorious sounds. We hope that our work will inspire further interest in this neglected repertory, and that our listeners will come to love this elusive tradition as much as we do!

Formed in Autumn 2018 by our director, James Tomlinson, the ensemble of ten singers delight in performing forgotten and recently unearthed early music to the highest standards of choral performance, combining clarity of tone with an expressive wit, and demonstrating “impressive control over challenging idioms” (Edward Higginbottom, 2019).

Fount & Origin has been awarded the Stile Antico Ensemble Development Bursary 2019–2021. The members of Fount & Origin are working closely Stile Antico to develop exciting projects and performances in the near future.

Our Name

The inspiration for our name, ‘Fount and Origin’, came from a musical treatise by the fifteenth-century composer and theorist, Johannes Tinctoris (c.1435-1511). In his Proportionale Musices (1472-3) he comments on the ‘new [musical] art’, and credits the early fifteenth-century English school of polyphony, and John Dunstaple in particular (d. 1453), as its ‘fons et origo’, or ‘fount and origin’. We chose this name to engage with a hugely important turning point in musical practice throughout Western Europe more—both for the institutional cultivation of polyphony and the emergent musical style now associated with the Renaissance. 

It also reminds us that there is so much music and history from the late Middle Ages yet to be discovered and reengaged, and that looking back in time could reveal something deeply personal and human about ourselves and our musical experiences in the twenty-first century.

Our Director

James Tomlinson reads Medieval Studies as a postgraduate student at Magdalen College, Oxford. He completed his BA in Music from The Queen’s College, Oxford, where he held a Senior Choral Scholarship with The Choir of The Queen’s College. James now sings as a Lay Clerk at Pusey House. He is an experienced performer and director of early music and has performed with and led various ensembles. As an historical instrumentalist, James has given performances on the Lute, Theorbo, Crumhorn, Recorder, Viol, and Harpsichord. His academic area of interest concerns thirteenth–fifteenth century polyphony in England and the Continent, with a current focus on the cultural and cognitive life of music produced within English monasteries. James also appeared as a soloist on the 2019 BBC documentary ‘A Merry Tudor Christmas with Lucy Worsley’. He is delighted to work on the repertory he loves with such an excellent and experienced group of singers.