CWRU becomes the epicenter for lute music June 24-29; concerts open to the public

Case Western Reserve University will become the epicenter of the lute universe Sunday, June 24, to Friday, June 29, as the campus hosts the Lute Society of America’s 2012 Summer Seminar.

Lute players and vocalists from around the world will converge on Cleveland to provide classes and performances featuring this historic instrument. The open public sessions include afternoon and evening concerts in Harkness Chapel.

The forerunner to the classical guitar, the lute still maintains its own strong following of individuals eager to preserve and promote the once-ubiquitous instrument and its extensive song list. Ross Duffin, Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music and Interim Chair of the Department of Music, explains that the lute produces a soft textural and pastoral sound that invites intensive listening. It gained widespread popularity before the harpsichord or the modern piano.

Among the musicians performing later this month will be Paul O’Dette, who might be familiar to Cleveland’s early music aficionados as a guest performer at Harkness for several concerts in the long-running Chapel, Court & Countryside series.  A preview of O’Dette’s mastery of chitarrone (large lute) at the 2010 festival in Harkness can be seen in this YouTube video.

“For a long time, people didn’t know what to do with lute music until players like Paul O’Dette came along and showed that this music was beautiful and virtuosic,” Duffin said. “It has inspired a movement of absolutely wonderful players and the rediscovery of music that was unknown to audiences 50 years ago.”

In addition to O’Dette, other internationally acclaimed artists at Harkness will be Robert Barto, a one-time rock guitarist turned lute player and teacher; Eduardo Egüez on baroque lutes; Ellen Hargis, vocalist; Crawford Young, medieval and renaissance lutes; and Nigel North, renaissance and baroque lute. Groups like the Good Pennyworths and the Bachelor Consort will also perform.

Among the members and supporters in the audience will be Daniel Shoskes, professor of urology at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and professor of surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University.

“The event is incredible,” said Shoskes, who is an accomplished lute and classical guitar player. Shoskes became serious about the lute at the age of 42 and had his first lute lesson with Ronn McFarlane and second one with Pat O’Brien—events he describes as “a bit like taking up cello and having Yo Yo Ma show you how to hold the bow and Rostropovich teach you your first scale.”

Shoskes became so accomplished at the lute and baroque guitar that he was invited to give a recital at the LSA four years ago. In 2011 he released his first solo lute CD. He also is on the Board of Directors of the LSA, Early Music America and Apollo’s Fire.

The public can hear the sounds of the lute during LSA performances.

Afternoon Concerts (all in Harkness Chapel):
Sunday June 24 – Good Pennyworths – lute ensemble song concert (free concert).  Concert is at 3 p.m.
Tuesday, June 26 – Eduardo Egüez – music solo Baroque lute concert at 2 p.m.
Thursday, June 28 – the Bachelor Consort – Renaissance plucked string ensemble concert at 2 p.m.

Evening Concerts all at 7:30 p.m. (all in Harkness Chapel):
Sunday, June 24 –  Paul O’Dette – solo Renaissance lute music
Monday, June 25 –  Crawford Young – solo medieval and early Renaissance lute music
Tuesday, June 26 – Ellen Hargis & Paul O’Dette – 17th century songs for soprano and lute.
Wednesday, June 27 – Robert Barto – solo Baroque lute
Thursday, June 28 – Nigel North – solo Renaissance lute
Friday, June 29 – Participant Concert

Tickets are only available at the door. Ticket prices are $20 per concert ($15 for students with a student ID). LSA Series Concert Pass $120 is available for admission to all eight concerts (the Good Pennyworths concert is free). The pass is available at the ticket table in Harkness Chapel on Sunday, June 24, before the evening concert featuring Paul O’Dette.

For information about the LSA and its concert schedule, visit