A Lute Summit
November 20, 2009
St. Paul, Minn. —
The five 'summiteers' have been studying with and teaching one another for 20 years or so. They get along pretty well in spite of having worked all over the globe and developed some very specific ideas on how the lute is to be played best.
And they'll make beautiful music together this weekend.
If you've ever wondered what a theorbo is or just how big a lute can be and still be called a lute, this is the concert for you.
In round-robin style, Paul Berget, Rockford Mjos, Phillip Rukavina, Richard Griffith and Thomas Walker, Jr. will play selections from the Renaissance by Dowland and Praetorius, as well as the Baroque including music by Vivaldi and Bach's best-friend, Silvius Leopold Weiss.
And the music will take on the sound of a symphony when the five pick up such varied instruments as the diminutive soprano lute -- weighing only a few pounds -- or the bass lute, that can only be played covering half the performer's face behind its belly.
It's even rumored the 90-centimeter contrabass-lute -- named "Big Bertha" -- will also make an appearance.
They may not have roadies to carry all those instruments, but all five lutenists stopped by MPR to play a few samples from the upcoming Lute Summit and talk about the rarefied world of a lutenist with Classical MPR's Alison Young.
Paul Berget: A graduate of the University of Minnesota
in 1972, Paul Berget also studied at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1973,
he appeared on Broadway in a musical production of Cyrano starring Christopher Plummer. In addition to playing Early Music, Mr. Berget
performs modern, classical and steel string guitar, as well as world music. Recently he's appeared in the internationally acclaimed
ensemble Minstrelsy!, a group that records on the Lyra Chord label.
Richard Griffith: Lutenist Rick Griffith became interested in the guitar at an early age, after seeing footage of Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show. He took up the lute in 2001, studying Renaissance with Paul Berget and Phillip Rukavina. Following the encouragement of Berget, who once told him "you must perform and perform often. If you wait to perform until you play as well as your heroes, you may never perform at all," Griffith has performed at the Schubert Club's Courtroom Concert Series, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, the Olde World Renaissance Faire, the Minnesota Scottish Ramble, and other Renaissance and Scottish festivals in the Midwest.
Phillip Rukavina: Phil Rukavina studied lute with Hopkinson Smith at the Academie Musical in Villecroze, France, and in Basel, Switzerland. He directed the
Lute Society of America's summer program at the Amherst Early Music Festival in 2005 and 2007. He regularly teaches on the faculty of the Lute Society of America's Seminars at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and directed the event in 2008. He has released two solo recordings on the Studio395 label, Fiori Italiani and Ala Spagnola. Phillip has performed with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Ars Antiqua of Chicago, and the New World Symphony.
Thomas Walker, Jr.: A student of Phillip Rukavina, Tom has performed
with the Rose Ensemble, Consortium Carissimi, Ensemble Polaris,
members of the Lyra Baroque Orchestra, and many accomplished
Baroque and Renaissance specialists in the Twin Cities. He
released his ﬁrst solo CD, Toccata, last year, as well has a second
CD, Due, a collection of duets performed with Phillip Rukavina.
Rockford Mjos: Rocky Mjos studied classical guitar with Dan
Estrem and Paul Berget (who sent him home one day with a lute
and a stack of tablature books). He performed with Concentus
Musicus, Ex Machina, Lyra Baroque Orchestra, and in duet pro-
grams with Edward Martin. He then moved to the Netherlands
and studied at the Royal
Conservatory. His group, The Beggar's Banquet, was invited to perform at the Dutch
Embassy in London. Rocky has performed at early music festivals
in San Antonio, Utrecht, and Wroclaw, Poland. In 2000 he moved
back to the Twin Cities, and has since played with Glorious
Revolution Baroque, Terzetti, and The Rose Ensemble.