Ugly Pug are an ensemble devoted to the performance of new music on their
instruments; blockflutes (Juho Myllylä), viola da gamba (Miron Andres) and harpsichord (Wesley Shen). The multi-national trio, with its members hailing from Finland, Czech Republic and Canada, operates from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where back in 2014 three students at the Conservatory of Amsterdam got together in order to dive into the fascinating repertoire written for these instruments. Having received coaching from top specialists in the field, such as blockflutist Jorge Isaac and harpsichordist Goska Isphording, Ugly Pug’s passion lies in reaching for a vibrant contemporary sound through the fabulous combination of instruments that have belonged together for centuries.
The ensemble has performed at early and contemporary music festivals in The Netherlands and Finland, as well as extended its trio setting by way of artistic collaborations with harpsichordists André Lourenço and Ere Lievonen, violinist Kirsti Apajalahti, step dance artist Marije Nie and the Trash Panda Collective.
Freed from the chains of early music, this group attracts challenges with their signature mixture of period instruments, contemporary composition, improvisatory techniques and electronics, as well as tirelessly working with composers on new repertoire.
For Ugly Pug, the concept of playing new music on these versatile instruments traditionally conceived historical is a very natural one. The historicity integrally linked to these instruments creates certain expectations, mostly in relation to common associations on how these period instruments should and should not sound like. What inspires them is exactly going against these expectations, resulting in fresh and surprising sound worlds as the past and the present merge into one.
As regards the name of the ensemble, which might at first seem to have absolutely nothing to do with what we’re doing, a question may arise: What do you mean “Ugly Pug”? “Pugs are not ugly!” The name stems from a certain pug, Sabba, whose debated ugliness or attractiveness we couldn’t reach a consensus on. Thus the name illustrates the very contradiction and aesthetic problem in question: wrecking the specious standard of beauty that this musical fusion is essentially about.