03 October 2010
My first instrument was classical guitar, which I started playing as a child in Spain. I developed a strong interest in early music while studying Music at Cambridge University, and I now mainly play renaissance lute, theorbo and baroque guitar. I work as a soloist, accompanist, and as continuo player in baroque chamber music and in large-scale works such as the Monteverdi Vespers or Purcell's King Arthur.
I've always been interested in the widest range of classical music, and in making unexpected connections. For example, in my solo concerts for the Lute Society in the UK and the Sociedad de la Vihuela in Córdoba, I set music for renaissance lute by Spinacino, Holborne and Dowland alongside Benjamin Britten's Nocturnal after John Dowland for classical guitar. My most recent solo project was in May 2010, when I played a programme of music from the greatest English lute manuscript, Matthew Holmes's lute book, in a series of concerts in the UK and at the 2nd International Lute Festival in Fuessen, Germany. I'm touring the programme again in 8 concerts in England and Wales in October 2010.
There's a lot of repertoire for voice and lute, and I work regularly with singers. Since 2009 I've been working with the Toulouse-based vocal group Antiphona playing lute, baroque guitar and theorbo in programmes of renaissance and baroque music from France, Italy and Spain.
Looking back, my duo Sambuca with recorder/flute player Michael Copley has performed throughout Europe. Venues have included the Barbican Centre, Göttingen Handel Festival and Kloster Michaelstein (Germany), Zagreb Summer Evenings (Croatia), Salisbury festival, Mulhouse baroque festival (France), Sir Jack Lyons concert hall in York, and many universities and music societies. Our two CDs, Sambuca and There and Back Again, featuring our characteristic mix of baroque, classical and world music on a multitude of instruments, have been heard on BBC Radio 3's Late Junction. Sambuca has appeared live on Radio 3's In Tune and on Croatian breakfast television.
The most unusual strand of my musical career has been playing with The Chuckerbutty Ocarina Quartet. Following its Wigmore Hall debut with the Academy of Ancient Music, the quartet has played in the Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican Centre, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, family concerts throughout Catalonia, and the Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo as part of our 2009 Japan tour. The quartet directed an ocarina workshop and performed at Dartington Summer School in 2002, and played for the British Flute Society with special guest Sir James Galway. Our CD I Love my Ocarina appeared in 2009 and has also been heard on Late Junction.
I'm an active member of the Lute Society, and was proud to be a member of their University Challenge team on BBC2 TV in 2008. My booklet 'Playing lute music on your guitar' is published by the Lute Society, and has been reprinted by the Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina, and by Classical Guitar magazine. My writings about the lute and its music can be found at eatslutes.blogspot.com, and you can hear me playing at myspace.com/absolute81.
Tnnight's programme features music for solo lute drawn from the most important collection of English lute music, housed in Cambridge University Library. Dating from the golden age of English lute music at the end of the 16th century, the repertoire covers the major English composers of the time including John Dowland, Anthony Holborne and John Johnson, plus some continental music that made it across the channel, including pieces by Francesco da Milano and Philip van Wilder. This varied selection of music covers a wide range of styles, from sober pavans through to exuberant jigs and dumps.
The Lute Society will be publishing a major new facsimile edition of the manuscript in 2010.