This fall’s Bloomington Early Music Festival begins with Lute player and IU Jacobs School of Music faculty member Nigel North, playing music of Francesco Canova da Milano. The young Francesco made a remarkable journey from rural Milan in the early 1500s to play the lute in service in the Papal courts of Rome.
North, too, has made a remarkable journey. “The first music that I really paid attention to, that I wanted to hear again, came from record that my father brought home by the British pop group The Shadows. The group had hits, including ‘Apache,’ ‘Kon Tiki’ and ‘Sleepwalk.'” North’s first instrument was the violin, and he played it through his teens, but during that same period he played in pop bands, studied classical guitar, and found the lute.
The inspiration for his lute playing also came from a recording. “I heard an LP of Julian Bream playing the music of John Dowland, pieces with mysterious names like ‘Lady Hunsdon’s Puff’ when I was fifteen. It just spoke to me.” Since then North has gone on to a career as a soloist, consort member and teacher. And he’s recorded a multiple CD set of all of the lute pieces by his original inspiration, John Dowland.
The upcoming concert is the beginning of a Francesco da Milano recording project. “It’s probably about one CD of what will be a three disc set,” says North. “In his time, Francesco da Milano was nicknamed ‘Il divino.’ There’s an account of his playing that says that the audience was so enraptured that they simply lost all senses except hearing.”
“It’s hard to imagine now, but then it was magic, it was something simply divine, the quality of his sound, and the way that he wrote his pieces were just thought to be from God.”
Nigel North plays Francesco da Milano
Solo lute music from the 16th century.
St. Thomas Lutheran Church
Wednesday, September 7, 7:30pm
BCT Box Office 323 3020