LSA at Amherst Workshop East

The Lute Society of America Seminar East will again take part in tandem with Amherst Early Music and is an opportunity for players of all levels to take part. Offering classes for lute players of all levels, from complete beginners to advanced. The all-star faculty lineup for 2017 includes Xavier Diaz-Latorre, Christopher Morrongiello, Nigel North, and Jason Priset.  Also happening (not all listed on the Amherst website) are concerts by Xavier Diaz-Latorre, a Broken Consort performed by Festival faculty, and a concert of rarely-heard songs from Shakespeare's plays, Thomas Morley, Robert Johnson, and other Elizabethan and Jacobean composers performed by Richard Stone and Julianne Baird. Lute Society students are also welcome to take part in some Baroque Academy classes including Richard Stone's first period Master Class and a class based on Cavalli's L'Erismena that will include a staged performance at the end of the week (directed by Richard Stone and Julianne Baird).

Please Note: The LSA Workshop takes place during Week 1 (July 9-16) of the Amherst Early Music Festival.

LSA Workshop East at Amherst 2017 Faculty

Xavier Diaz-Latorre was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1968. He studied at advanced level in Basle with Oscar Ghiglia at the Musikakademie and Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum. He has given concerts at major venues around the world, including the Carnegie Hall (New York), Covent Garden (London), the Palau de la Música Catalana (Barcelona), the Teatro Real (Madrid), the Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), the Wiener Philarmonie (Vienna)  and the Konzerthaus (Berlin). Díaz-Latorre performs regularly with world-renowned ensembles such as Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations. He has also performed with Al Ayre Español, the Orquesta Nacional de España, Concerto Vocale, the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Concerto Köln and others. Laberintos Ingeniosos is his own vocal-instrumental ensemble, which he has taken to a number of different countries throughout the world. Xavier Díaz-Latorre has made more than 30 recordings for international CD labels. He teaches early plucked instruments, chamber music and bass continuo at the ESMUC (Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya), and has been invited to teach in the USA, Korea, Japan and several European countries.

Nigel North was initially inspired into music, at age 7, by the early 60's instrumental pop group "The Shadows". Nigel studied classical music through the violin and guitar, eventually discovering his real path in life, the lute, when he was 15. Basically self taught on the lute, he has (for over 30 years) developed a unique musical life which embraces activities as a teacher, accompanist, soloist, director and writer. Some "mile stones" on the way have included the publication of a continuo tutor (Faber 1987) representing his work and passion for this subject. The music of J.S.Bach has been another passion, and the 4 Volume CD collection “Bach on the Lute" was recorded on the Linn Records label (1994-1997), now available as a 4 disc box set. Nigel North enjoys accompanying singers and is also an enthusiastic teacher. For over 20 years he was Professor of Lute at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London; from 1993-1999 he was Professor at the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin; 2005-2207 he was Lute Professor at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag, Netherlands, and since January 1999 Nigel North has been Professor of Lute at the Early Music Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington in the USA. Recent recording projects have included, Robert Dowland’s “A Musical Banquet” with soprano, Monika Mauch, for ECM (2008), Lute Songs with tenor Charles Daniels for ATMA (2007) and the Lute Music of Robert Johnson for Naxos (2010).

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 Ph.D. in musicology. As a recitalist, Christopher has performed to critical acclaim throughout Europe and the United States. In 1993 he was a prizewinner in the BBC Radio Two Young Musician of the Year Competition and in 1996 was awarded a Marco Fodella Foundation Scholarship for studies and research in Milan, Italy. In 2006, the Lute Society of America conferred upon him its first Patrick O’Brien LSA Lectureship. Heralded as an innovative musical director and creator of large-scale dramatic works, Christopher has a gift for bringing the music of the Renaissance and Baroque to life in its literary and social context. His performances of music by Penelope Devereux, have been described by Renaissance Magazine as “a presentation of unusual quality and beauty” and by the NY Times as “an inspired idea… a vivid and touching portrait.” Christopher is a professor in music history at Hofstra University.  He is a member of the Venere Lute Quartet and Alba Consort, and directs the New York-based Bacheler Consort.


Jason Priset Based out of New York City, Jason Priset is a regular soloist and performer in the United States. Jason has appeared through the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, Early Music New York, and the Riverside Symphony to name a few, and includes performances in such prestigious venues as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Jason holds a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) from Stony Brook University and specializes in a variety of plucked guitar and lute related instruments. Currently, Dr. Priset is serving as Executive Director for the Lute Society of America (LSA) summer festival and works as staff for Amherst Early Music (AEM). Other festival experience includes the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College, the International Baroque Institute at Longy (IBIL), the Long Island Guitar Festival, and the Ithaca College Winter Guitar Festival.

LSA at Amherst Workshop East Class List

English Lute Music 1580-1620 (North)

In this class we will look at lute music of "The Golden Age" in England, John Johnson to Robert Johnson and all of their contemporaries. A survey of the most important sources, the composers, and many aspects of performance practice including tempi, ornamentation, right and left hand techniques. The class will be a mixture of lectures and masterclass type lessons. Students are encouraged to bring 3 contrasting pieces from this period and be ready to play them in class.

Master Classes (North)

Masterclass is open to all, with the following schedule : 

Monday - baroque lute,  Tuesday -  theorbo/ baroque guitar, Wednesday - 16th century lute, 

Thursday - any continuo, Friday - your choice.


Spanish polyphony and dances of the Golden Century (Diaz-Latorre)

The concept of this class will be based upon a study of the 'Golden Age' of Spanish polyphony and dances from the 16th & 17th century in a broken consort style. This class will run as a topic class as well as giving students an opportunity to play in an ensemble setting. Plucked instruments, flutes, viols, drummers and singers are invited to join. 

Master Class (Diaz-Latorre)

Fundamentals of Renaissance Lute Playing (Morrongiello)

A hands-on course covering the basic physiological mechanics involved in playing the Renaissance lute well. Chris will deal with the fundamentals of right-hand thumb-under technique, the principles of left-hand finger placement (with special emphasis given to the thumb and little finger), and the "order," or method, of choosing felicitous fingerings. He will also provide a checklist of problems to avoid, while offering insights into various ways of holding the lute, practicing, producing good tone, and playing in a relaxed, focused manner

Elizabethan and Jacobean Ballads and Popular Music (Morrongiello)

"Neither is there anie tune or stroke which may be sung or plaide on instruments, which hath not some poetical ditties framed"  

—William Webbe, A Discourse of English Poetrie (1586)

In this course, Dr. Morrongiello will delve into the fascinating social, cultural, and musical backgrounds of the period's most popular tunes— how composers set them and used them as a stimulus to invention.  Explore instrumental and vocal versions of dance tunes, imported tunes, those commonly used in black-letter broadside ballads, tunes associated with grounds, and so on. Participants will be given many diverse settings for study and performance. Singers and Instrumentalists most welcome.


The English Lute Song (Priset)

Some of the best music from the late Renaissance comes out of England in the form of the lute song. The lute was recognized as one of the best instruments for accompanying the voice; a practice recognized by many of the greatest composers of that time. This class will explore the repertoire from this rich period of England's history focusing on composers such as John Dowland, Thomas Campion, Robert Jones, and John Danyel as well as some others.

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