Classical Music

The Lovely Lute With Ronn McFarlane

A conversation with Ronn McFarlane about his work as a lutenist and composer, previewing an upcoming recital through Houston Early Music and Guitar Houston.

Ronn McFarlane
Lutenist Ronn McFarlane in the Geary Performance Studio

“It really has its own personality that’s separate and different from the guitar, or the mandolin, or the banjo, or the harp, but it has elements of all of those instruments in its sound,” says Ronn McFarlane about his preferred instrument, the lute.

The lute is probably the most recognizable instrument from the Renaissance era of the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries. It’s like a guitar, but with (usually) more strings, a rounder back, and an angled pegbox. It’s quite prominent in any number of paintings from the era as well.

Painting of a lute player
A Lute Player, oil on canvas by Theodoor Rombouts, c. 1620

This Friday night at 7:30, McFarlane and fellow lutenist Paul O’Dette will be performing a duo recital through Houston Early Music and Guitar Houston at Emerson Unitarian Church. On the program are pieces for lute from Renaissance Italy and England, both of which have distinct styles.

Hear my conversation with Ronn McFarlane above, where he discusses his love of older music, how he approaches writing for the lute today, and a preview of the upcoming recital. Go to Houston Early Music’s website for more information and tickets to the concert.

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