Trobár is a small band of voices and instruments dedicated to bringing medieval music to modern audiences. The word trobar comes from Occitan, the language spoken in the middle ages in what is now southern France, and encompasses numerous meanings: to find, to meet, to create, to compose, to invent. This word encapsulates the spirit of discovery and invention that we bring to musical texts of the middle ages.
Trobar was founded on the belief that music has the power to bridge cultures, despite the separation of time and place, language, ethnicity, or religion. Our mission is to explore the human experience as viewed through medieval music and the stories of medieval peoples. We strive to produce material that is rooted in historical research, imaginative in inspiration, cohesive in concept, excellent in performance, immersive through the incorporation of visual elements, interdisciplinary through its contextualization of music in art, literature, and history, and both educational and edifying in its impact. We engage with medieval scholars and performers globally; we share our work and ideas on a national stage through performances but also in workshops, masterclasses, and residencies with students; and we bring together new audiences within our local community in northeast Ohio.
The three members of Trobár – Allison Monroe (voice, vielle, rebec, harp), Elena Mullins (voice, percussion), and Karin Weston (voice, harp) – met while studying historical performance practice at Case Western Reserve University, where we looked at medieval music as both performers and scholars. Members also attended the 2015 Early Music Vancouver Festival's Medieval Programme and the 2nd International Study Week of Trecento Music in 2017 led by the members of Tetraktys. In preparing our programs, we approach the music from multiple perspectives – we study the original manuscripts, read musical treatises, and explore the broader historical context surrounding the music. Trobár has a regular season in Cleveland, but has also performed as part of the Boston Early Music Festival Fringe, been in residence at Avaloch Farm Music Institute and the University of Louisville, and presented concerts on the Gotham Early Music Scene concert series in New York and the Catacoustic Consort series in Cincinnati.