An entire class of English vocal ensembles, sometimes placed under an "Oxbridge Sound" umbrella, specializes in early music. Among the prestigious ranks of the Gothic Voices, the Tallis Scholars, Pro Cantione Antiqua, the Oxford Camerata, and the Sixteen, longevity and musical versatility place the Hilliard Ensemble in a class almost of their own. Named for the great Elizabethan miniaturist painter Nicholas Hilliard, the Hilliard Ensemble grew out of the musical vision of baritone Paul Hillier, a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music, and his friendships with three other singers (two of them from Oxford). Their intention was to explore the then less-heard musical riches of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Their musical odyssey has covered music from the 11th to the 17th century, with a strong interest in new vocal music as well. Though Paul Hillier himself left the ensemble in 1990 to take American academic positions, the core membership remained otherwise fairly consistent: countertenor David James, tenors Rogers Covey-Crump and John Potter, and bass Gordon Jones. Tenor Steven Harrold joined when Potter left the ensemble in 1998.