Robert Barto taught himself the lute while studying at the University of California in San Diego. After continuing his studies with Michael Schaeffer in Cologne and Eugen Dombois at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland, he was awarded first prize in the International Lute Competition in Toronto (1984) and top prize of all instrumental soloists in the Musica Antiqua Competition in Bruges, Belgium.
One of today’s leading lutenists, his baroque lute recordings on Naxos of the music of Sylvius Weiss have met with critical acclaim and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. His recording of Weiss’s lute duets with the late Karl-Ernst Schroeder was called “lute CD of the decade” by Early Music magazine. Mr. Barto has performed in London’s Purcell Room, the Utrecht Festival, and in New York City’s Music Before 1800 series. Robert Barto has been invited to share the stage by musicians as varied as Leo Kottke and John Williams.
Born in London, England, Nigel North has been Professor of Lute at the Early Music Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington (USA) since 1999. Previous positions include the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London (1976-1996), Hochschule der Künste, Berlin (1993-1999) and the Royal Conservatory, Den Haag, (2006-2009).
Initially inspired at the age of seven by the early 60’s instrumental pop group “The Shadows,” Nigel studied classical music playing the violin and guitar, and eventually discovering his real path in life—the lute, when he was 15. Basically self-taught on the lute, he has been playing and teaching for nearly 50 years.
After hearing one of Nigel’s Bach recitals in London, Julian Bream recalled in 2002 “I remember going to a remarkable recital, one which I wish I had the ability to give: it was one of Nigel North’s Bach recitals, and I was bowled over by how masterful and how musical it was. A real musical experience, something you don’t always get from guitar and lute players and which, in general, is pretty rare.”
Recordings include a four CD boxed set Bach on the Lute (Linn Records), four CDs of the lute music of John Dowland (Naxos), and a new ongoing series of music by Sylvius Weiss (BGS) and Francesco da Milano (BGS).
…should I come to meet Saint Peter at the pearly gates, I hope he will say, “Welcome, good and faithful servant! By the way, be sure to hear Paul O’Dette—he’s leading the angel band.” (Early Music America, Spring 2011).
Paul O’Dette has been described him as “the clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument.” (Toronto Globe and Mail). One of the most influential figures in his field, O’Dette has helped define the technical and stylistic standards to which twenty-first-century performers of early music aspire. In doing so, he helped infuse the performance practice movement with a perfect combination of historical awareness, idiomatic accuracy, and ambitious self-expression. His performances at the major international festivals in Boston, Vienna, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Prague, Milan, Florence, Geneva, Madrid, Barcelona, Tokyo, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Melbourne, Adelaide, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Berkeley, Bath, Montpellier, Utrecht, Bruges, Antwerp, Bremen, Dresden, Innsbruck, Tenerife, Copenhagen, Oslo, Cordoba, etc. have often been singled out as the highlight of those events.
Paul O’Dette has made more than 145 recordings, winning two Grammys, receiving eight Grammy nominations and numerous other international record awards. “The Complete Lute Music of John Dowland” (a 5-CD set for harmonia mundi usa), was awarded the prestigious Diapason D’or de l’année and selected as the “Best Solo Lute Recording of Dowland” by BBC Radio 3. “The Bachelar’s Delight: Lute Music of Daniel Bacheler” was nominated for a Grammy as “Best Solo Instrumental Recording of 2006.”
O’Dette is also active conducting Baroque operas. His recording of Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers with Stephen Stubbs and the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble won a Grammy for Best Opera Recording of 2014, as well as an Echo Klassik Award in the same category. In 1997 he directed performances of Luigi Rossi’s L’Orfeo at Tanglewood, the Boston Early Music Festival and the Drottningholm Court Theatre in Sweden with Stephen Stubbs. Since 1999 they have co-directed performances of Cavalli’s Ercole Amante at the Boston Early Music Festival, Tanglewood, and the Utrecht Early Music Festival, Provenzale’s La Stellidaura Vendicata at the Vadstena Academy in Sweden, Monteverdi’s Orfeo and L’Incoronazione di Poppea for Festival Vancouver, Lully’s Thésée, Conradi’s Ariadne (Hamburg, 1691) Mattheson’s Boris Goudenow, Lully’s Psyché, Monteverdi’s Poppea, Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Steffani’s Niobe, Handel’s Almira, Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise, Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona and Livietta e Tracollo for the Boston Early Music Festival. Six of their opera recordings have been nominated for Grammy awards, including Ariadne as Best Opera Recording of 2005, Thésée in 2007, Psyché in 2008, La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers in 2014, Niobe in 2015 and Charpentier’s Les Arts Florissants in 2019. Their recording of Agostino Steffani’s Niobe, was awarded a Diapason D’or de l’année, an Echo Klassik Award and the prestigious Jahrespreis der Deutschenschallplattenkritik. Paul O’Dette has guest directed numerous Baroque orchestras and opera productions on both sides of the Atlantic.
In addition to his activities as a performer, Paul O’Dette is an avid researcher, having worked extensively on the performance and sources of seventeenth-century Italian and English solo song, continuo practices and lute music. He has published numerous articles on issues of historical performance practice and co-authored the Dowland entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
Paul O’Dette is Professor of Lute and Director of Early Music at the Eastman School of Music and Artistic Co-Director of the Boston Early Music Festival.
Hopkinson Smith—Pat O’Brien Lecturer
Hopkinson Smith, without doubt the finest lute player in the world today.
—San Francisco Chronicle
Hopkinson Smith has taught for over forty years at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, has made more than 25 solo recordings, given hundreds of concerts and has three grandchildren. The sound of plucked strings resonates in his musical soul and often he can hardly wait to start practicing in the morning.
Called “a supremely refined, elegant and cerebral musician” by the Ottawa Citizen, Sylvain Bergeron is a master of the lute and lute-family plucked instruments, including the theorbo, archlute and baroque guitar. He is in great demand on the North American music scene as a soloist and continuist. Bergeron is one of the pioneers of early music in Canada and has helped establish the lute as a viable instrument played in professional ensembles. His work has confirmed the importance of plucked instruments and helped validate their place in baroque ensembles and orchestras in Canada.
Sylvain Bergeron has participated in more than seventy recordings, many of which have won prizes and awards. His most recent solo album Gioseppe Antonio Doni’s Lute Book (ATMA Classique 2015), was widely praised noting his “strong lute technique combined with outstanding musical intelligence and impeccable phrasing” (The WholeNote), while Goldberg magazine described it as “imbued with both great rhythmic vitality, delicacy and nuance.”
Co-founder and co-artistic director of La Nef since 1991, Bergeron has directed several of the award-winning group’s productions. He has taught lute at McGill University and the Université de Montréal since 1992.
Xavier Díaz Latorre studied guitar with Oscar Ghiglia at the Musikhochschule, Basel, graduating in 1993. His subsequent interest in early music led him to study the lute with Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He has completed several courses in choral conducting and a post-graduate course in orchestral conducting.
From 1996 to 2005 he was actively involved in baroque opera, participated in major productions with conductors such as René Jacobs, Jordi Savall, Thomas Hengelbrock, Attilio Cremonesi and Wieland Kuijken.
Diaz-Latorre is a member of well-known orchestras and chamber groups including those conducted by Jordi Savall: Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert de Nations. He has been invited to perform with other orchestras and ensembles such as the Orquesta Nacional de España, the Ricercar Consort, the Rare Fruit Council, the Harp Consort and Al Ayre Español.
He directs his own ensemble, LaberintosIngeniosos, which specialises in performance of music from the Spanish Golden Age. The group’s first disc, Danzas de Rasgueado y Sones de Palacio, with music by the Aragonese composer Gaspar Sanz, was recorded on the Zig-Zag Territoires label. Laberintos Ingeniosos has made additional CDs of music from the Iberian Peninsula performed on period instruments, such as Goyesca, seguidillas boleras, with music by Fernando Sorn 2008 by the same label and in 2009 “...entre el cielo y el infierno...”, with works by Francisco de Guerau and José Marín. In 2019 LaberintosIngeniosos released a CD on the Spanish label Cantus-Records with works by Santiago de Murcia.
Xavier has recorded several solo CD’s: Cantus-Records released La Guitarra dels Lleons with him playing on four guitars from the Museu de la Música de Barcelona, especially restored for this project. The Belgian label Passacaille released the Complete Works for Guitar by Francisco Guerau, a 3 CD’s boxed set, as well as Stolen Roses with German music for the 13 course lute, and Robert de Visée with music for the theorbo and baroque guitar. His CD Los Libros del Delphín contains Narváez’s complete works for solo vihuela. His most recent recording is Il libro della Fortuna, with music by Francesco da Milano for the 6 course lute on Cantus Records. Xavier has taken part in over fourty CDs with other groups on other labels such as Alia Vox, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi and Alpha,
Diaz-Latorre has also collaborated with the Fundación del Siglo de Oro, composing and producing music for the theater: Mujeres y Criados by Lope de Vega, Trabajos de Amor Perdidos by William Shakespeare and El Rufián Dichoso by Miguel de Cervantes.
He has been invited to give lectures and masterclasses at major colleges and universities such as the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis Basel), the Juilliard School (New York), the Sibelius Academy, and the University South California, He has performed and taught at the LSA’s Lute Fest in Cleveland and at the Amherst Early Music Festival (Connecticut). He is resident professor of Lute, basso continuo and chamber music at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC) and teacher of lute at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.
Born in Buenos Aires, Eduardo Egüez belongs to the new generation of Argentine lutenists. He first studied guitar with Miguel Angel Girollet and Eduardo Fernández and composition at the Catholic Argentine University. In 1995, he received a diploma in lute from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis under the guidance Hopkinson Smith.
Egüez has given solo concerts in the main cities of South America, Europe, Australia and Japan, He received awards from international competitions: Promociones Musicales, Buenos Aires, 1984, Círculo Guitarrístico Argentino, Buenos Aires, 1984, Concours International de Guitare, Paris (Radio France), 1986, V Concurso Internacional de Guitarra (Jacinto and Inocencio Guerrero Foundation), Madrid, 1989.
He has taught at international courses and seminars, the most noteworthy being: Camping Musical Bariloche, Argentina, Universidad Católica Argentina, Universidad Católica de Santiago de Chile, Instituto para las Artes, Uruguay, Musikhochschule Wuppertal, Germany, Conservatoire Populaire de Musique, Geneva, Fundación La Caixa », Murcia, Spain, « Conservatorio di Musica V. Bellini », Palermo, Italy, « Fondation Royaumont, France, Académie Baroque Européenne d’Ambronay, France, Festival de Guitarra de Gran Canaria, Spain, Tokyo Lute Society, Japan, Lute Society of Sydney, Australia, Early Music Festival, Gijón, Spain, High School of Music, Salvador de Bahia, Brasil.
Since 1992 Mr. Egüez has performed as a continuo player with groups such as: Hesperion XXI (Jordi Savall), Orchestra Mozart (Claudio Abbado), Ensemble Baroque de Limoges (Christophe Coin), Aurora (Enrico Gatti), Concerto Italiano (Rinaldo Alessandrini), Labyrinto” (Paolo Pandolfo), The Rare Fruits Council (Manfred Kraemer), Café Zimmermann (Valetti / Frisch), and the Ricercar Consort (P. Pierlot). He has also accompanied artists such as Emma Kirkby, Maria Cristina Kiehr, Rolf Lislevand, Victor Torres.
Eduardo Egüez has recorded numerous CDs for labels such as: Astrée Auvidis, Astrée Naïve, Arcana, Glossa, Alia Vox, Stradivarius, Symphonia, Alpha, Ambroisie, Naxos, Accent, Harmonia Mundi. His solo recordings include Tombeau with works by Silvius Leopold Weiss (E Lucevan le Stelle), the complete lute works by Johann Sebastian Bach (Ma recordings) and Le Maître du Roi with works by Robert de Visée (Ma recordings). He is the leader of Ensemble La Chimera and with this group he has recorded for the label Ma recordings Buenos Aires Madrigal (fusion of early Italian madrigals and Argentinean tango) and Tonos y Tonadas (fusion of early Spanish tonos humanos and folk music from Latinoamerica).
Eduardo Egüez teaches lute and basso continuo at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste in Switzerland.
Catherine Liddell has been active as a performer and teacher since returning from her studies at the Schola Cantorum Basilensis the mid 70s after being the first American to earn a soloist diploma there. As an ensemble player on theorbo she has performed with many of America’s leading period instrument ensembles, including the Boston Early Music Festival Opera Orchestra, New York Collegium, Apollo’s Fire, Tafelmusik with Jeanne Lamon, the Folger Consort, Boston Baroque, and the Handel & Haydn Society. Recording projects with these groups include Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo with Music from Aston Magna; Lully’s Psyché with the Boston Early Music Festival; Bonporti Motets with Ellen Hargis and Ensemble Ouabache; Bononcini Sonatas and Cantatas with Brent Wissick and Sally Sanford; Capricornus Geistliche Konzrte with Long & Away Consort of Viols; Airs by Julie Pinel with La Donna Musicale. In her solo lute playing, she gravitates to 17th century French music where she feels a special affinity as can be heard on her CD La Belle Voilée: 17th-Century French lLute music by Jacques Gallot and others on the Centaur label.
She is the editor of Sacred Music for Lute, published by Lyre Music Publications. Her series of seven articles on how to read from German tablature have all been gathered together and can be found on the LSA website by searching for “German Tab Made Easy-er”
Liddell has taught lute at the San Francisco Conservatory, in the Five Colleges Early Music Program based at Mount Holyoke College, and currently teaches in the Historical Performance Program at Boston University. She is serving her second term as President of the Lute Society of America.
Lutenist Christopher Morrongiello, a former British Marshall Scholar, is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music, the Royal College of Music, and the University of Oxford, where he earned a doctorate in historical musicology. He has performed to critical acclaim throughout Europe and the United States and was a prizewinner in the BBC Radio Two Young Musician of the Year Competition and a recipient of a Marco Fodella Foundation Scholarship for studies and research in Milan, Italy. In 2006 the Lute Society of America chose him to be its first Patrick O’Brien LSA Seminar Lecturer.
Morrongiello is a professor of music history at Hofstra University and directs the Hofstra Collegium Musicum, which recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. He is a frequent guest artist of numerous early music groups and is often invited to teach, lecture, and perform at international music festivals and workshops. Morrongiello is the Artistic Director of the Long Island Early Music Festival, now entering its 4th season, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, NY. He has recorded for EMI, Avie Records, Gamut Music, the Lute Society of America, Visionaire, and the BBC. Recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art produced several video recordings of his playing on a gut-strung, late-sixteenth-century lute, as well as on copies of lutes, in its renowned musical instrument collection.
Charles Weaver is on the faculty of the Juilliard School, where he teaches historical plucked instruments and Baroque music theory. He was music director for Cavalli’s La Calisto with New York’s Dell’Arte Opera in summer 2017, when The Observer remarked on “the superb baroque band led by Charles Weaver . . . it was amazing to hear what warm and varied sounds he coaxed from the ensemble.” He has served as assistant conductor for Juilliard Opera and has accompanied operas with the Yale Baroque Opera Project and the Boston Early Music Festival. As an orchestral musician, he has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Virginia Symphony. His chamber appearances have included Quicksilver, Piffaro,
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Folger Consort, Apollo’s Fire, Blue Heron, Musica Pacifica, and others. He also works with the New York Continuo Collective, an ensemble that mounts workshop productions of seventeenth-century vocal music. He has taught at the Lute Society of America Summer Seminar, the International Baroque Institute at Longy, and the Madison Early Music Festival. He is the schola director at St. Mary’s Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, and he is pursuing a doctoral degree in music theory at the City University of New York.
Bor Zuljan is active in different musical genres and plays many kinds of lutes and guitars, vihuelas, oud, tar and other early and traditional plucked-strings instruments. Recently he’s been specializing particularly in the music of the Renaissance, rediscovering forgotten improvisation and playing techniques, instruments and sounds.
He performs regularly as soloist and with ensembles, such as Tasto Solo, Graindelavoix, Le Concert Brisé, Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, in duos with Dusan Bogdanovic, Rolf Lislevand, Romain Bockler (Dulces Exuviae) as well as with his own ensemble La Lyra. His projects have been presented in festivals such as the Laus Polyphoniae in Antwerpen, Oude Muziek in Utrecht, Festival Radovljica in Slovenia. He has performed in the USA, in China, Algeria, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, Romania and in Croatia and recorded award-winning CDs for several labels (Ricercar, Arcana).
Since 2011, he has been the artistic director of an early music festival in Slovenia, Flores Musicae. His critical edition of Gorzanis’ Second Lute Book has been published by the Slovenian Musicological Society, resulting also in an awarded CD La barca del mio amore, featuring La Lyra and the italian singer Pino De Vittorio (Arcana, Outhere Music). His second CD Josquin—Adieu mes amours with the duo Dulces Exuviae has recently been released on Ricercar (Outhere Music).
After graduating from jazz and classical programmes at the Ljubljana Conservatory of Music, he continued his studies with Aniello Desiderio in Koblenz, Germany. He got a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in guitar and lute performance from the Haute Ecole de Musique de Geneva, with a specialization in Medieval music and finished a MA in lute pedagogy. Since 2011 he has been working as research assistant at the same school on a project on Fantasia improvisation on lute in the 16th century, a topic he is developing for his doctoral thesis at the CESR in Tours.
Zuljan teaches lute at the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique, Danse et Théâtre de Genève, and has given numerous conferences and master classes at institutions, such as the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève, CNSMD Lyon, Escuela Superior de Musica de Mexico, and the Ljubljana Academy of Music.
Known especially for his Baroque interpretations, Aaron Sheehan’s voice has been described by the Boston Globe as “superb: his tone classy, clear, and refined, encompassing fluid lyricism and ringing force” and the Washington Post praised his “Polished, lovely tone.”
His singing has taken him to many festivals and venues including; Tanglewood, Concertgebouw, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington National Cathedral, the early music festivals of Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver, Houston, Tucson, Washington DC, and Madison, as well as the Regensburg Tage Alter Musik.
Sheehan made his professional operatic début with Boston Early Music Festival as Ivan, in the world premiere staging of Mattheson’s Boris Gudenow, a role for which Opera News praised his voice as “sinous and supple.” He has since performed with BEMF in such leading roles as Orphée in Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers (winning Best Opera Recording at the 2015 Grammy Awards).
L’Amour and Apollon in Lully’s Psyché, Actéon in Charpentier’s Actéon, and Acis in Handel’s Acis and Galatea. He has also performed with Opera Lafayette, Boston Baroque, American Opera Theater and Intermezzo Chamber Opera in leading roles of operas by Cavalli, Rameau, Monteverdi, Handel, Weill, and Satie.
On the concert stage, Aaron Sheehan enjoys a reputation as a first rate interpreter of the oratorios and cantatas of Bach and Handel and the oratorios and masses of Mozart. The San Diego Classical Voice said, “Tenor Aaron Sheehan performed the role of Evangelist, and sang with assured vocal and linguistic fluency, tasked with telling the audience the story while imparting its drama. In this regard, he was superb.”
Aaron Sheehan also works extensively in chamber music. He has sung with the Theater of Voices, the Blue Heron Choir, Tenet, Fortune’s Wheel, La Donna Musicale, the Folger Consort, the Newberry Consort, Dünya, the Rose Ensemble, and the Pro Arte Singers.
Andy Rutherford has been playing the lute and related instruments since the mid-seventies. He is a founding member of My Lord Chamberlain’s Consort, a New York based group that specializes in English lute songs, and he’s half of Duo Marchand, with soprano/harpist Marcia Young. He plays theorbo for Albany, New York’s Empire Baroque.
Rutherford has built lutes for many noted players, and is a regular faculty member at the Lute Society of America’s Summer seminars and festivals where he teaches luthier skills.
A recent obsession is the English composer Thomas Mace, whose book Musick’s Monument is a treasure trove of lute-related information, from how to hold the lute (against a table with the right-hand pinkie behind the bridge) to how to compose (start with one of the notes of the final chord).
Jason Priset—Festival Director
Based out of New York City, Jason Priset is a regular performer in the United States and internationally. Concert performances include the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, Early Music New York, and the Riverside Symphony, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and the L’Auditori & Museu de la Música de Barcelona in Spain.
Jason holds a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) from Stony Brook University and a post Doctorate degree from Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC) in Barcelona, Spain and specializes in historical guitars and lute. He has studied with James Piorkowski (State University of New York at Fredonia), Jerry Willard (Stony Brook University), Xavier Diaz-Latorre (ESMUC) and Pat O’Brien. He is currently the Director of the Lute Society of America’s Cleveland Lute Fest, a job he has held for a number of years. Jason is also on the faculty of Amherst Early Music Festival and directs the lute program there. He teaches at Montclair State University in New Jersey.