Lute Fest East 2023: Faculty Biographies

Grant Herreid

Grant has performed on lute, theorbo, cittern, early guitar, early reeds, brass, and voice with many early music ensembles. A noted teacher and educator, he is a past recipient of Early Music America’s Laurette Goldberg award for excellence in early music outreach and education.

He is on the faculty at Yale University, where he leads the Yale Collegium Musicum and the Yale Baroque Opera Project. Grant also directs the New York Continuo Collective, and devotes much of his time to exploring the esoteric unwritten traditions of Renaissance music with the ensembles Ex Umbris and Ensemble Viscera

Ronn McFarlane

GRAMMY-nominated lutenist, Ronn McFarlane strives to bring the lute – the most popular instrument of the Renaissance – into today’s musical mainstream and make it accessible to a wider audience.

Since taking up the lute in 1978, Ronn has made his mark in music as the founder of Ayreheart, a founding member of the Baltimore Consort, touring 49 of the 50 United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Netherlands, Germany and Austria, and as a guest artist with Apollo’s Fire, The Bach Sinfonia, The Catacoustic Consort, The Folger Consort, Houston Grand Opera, The Oregon Symphony, The Portland Baroque Orchestra, and The Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra.

Born in West Virginia, Ronn grew up in Maryland. At thirteen, upon hearing “Wipeout” by the Surfaris, he fell madly in love with music and taught himself to play on a “cranky sixteen-dollar steel string guitar.” Ronn kept at it, playing blues and rock music on the electric guitar while studying classical guitar. He graduated with honors from Shenandoah Conservatory and continued guitar studies at Peabody Conservatory before turning his full attention and energy to the lute in 1978. The next year, he began to perform solo recitals on the lute and became a member of the Baltimore Consort. Since then, he has toured throughout the United States, Canada and Europe with the Baltimore Consort and as a soloist.

Ronn was a faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory from 1984 to 1995, teaching lute and lute-related subjects. In 1996, Ronn was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music from Shenandoah Conservatory for his achievements in bringing the lute and its music to the world. He has over 35 recordings on the Dorian/Sono Luminus label, including solo albums, lute duets, flute & lute duets, lute songs, the complete lute music of Vivaldi, a collection of Elizabethan lute music and poetry, and recordings with the Baltimore Consort.

Ronn has composed new music for the lute, building on the tradition of the lutenist/composers of past centuries. His original compositions are the focus of his solo CD, Indigo Road, which received a GRAMMY Award Nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album of 2009.

In 2010 Ronn founded Ayreheart, an ensemble brought together to perform new compositions as well as early music. Ayreheart’s first CD release, One Morning, consists of all-original music by Ronn McFarlane. Ayreheart’s 2016 release, Barley Moon, blends folk music and art music from Renaissance and Medieval England, Scotland, and Wales.

Artist’s Website:

Chris Morrongiello smiling and holding a Renaissance lute

Christopher Morrongiello

Lutenist Christopher Morrongiello is a former British Marshall Scholar and a graduate of Mannes College of Music, the Royal College of Music and the University of Oxford, where he earned a doctorate in historical musicology. He was a prizewinner in the BBC’s Radio 2’s Young Musician of the Year competition and a recipient of a Marco Fodella Foundation scholarship for studies and research in Milan, Italy. In the 2006 LSA Lute Fest he was chosen to give the first of the Patrick O’Brien lectures.

Dr. Morrongiello is a professor of music history at Hofstra University where he directs the Hofstra Collegium Musicum. He is a frequent guest artist with leading early music groups and is often invited to teach, lecture, and perform at international music festivals and workshops. He is Artistic Director of the Long Island Early Music Festival, now entering its 4th season. Morrongiello has recorded for EMI, Avie Records, Gamut Music and the BBC. Recently the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City) produced several video recordings of him playing on a variety of historical and new lutes from their renowned instrument collection.

Jason Priset

Based out of New York City, Dr. Jason Priset is a regular soloist and performer in the United States and internationally. Dr. Priset has appeared through the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, Early Music New York, Florida Grand Opera, and the Riverside Symphony including performances in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine & Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in Manhattan and the L’Auditori & Museu de la Musica de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain. As an international artist Dr. Priset has appeared in concerts in Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Dr. Priset holds a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) from Stony Brook University and a post Doctorate degree from Escola Superior de Musica de Catalunya (ESMUC) in Barcelona, Spain and specializes in historical guitars and lute. He has studied extensively with the modern composer James Piorkowski (State University of New York at Fredonia), Jerry Willard (Stony Brook University), Xavier Diaz-Latorre (ESMUC) and Pat O’Brien. He is Director of the Lute Society of America summer festivals, on the faculty for the Amherst Early Music (AEM), and at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Artist’s Website: