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Dancing, Whistling, and Vivaldi’s Lute: Hightlights from IEMF

The Indianapolis Early Music Festival kicked off June 24, but this intrepid blogger was unable to attend that first weekend, so I bring you a summary from the second weekend of the festival.

If you're a lover of the lute, or string instruments in general, last weekend was a great opportunity to get a lot of that music in all at once. Friday night, the Baltimore Consort played in a concert called "The Ladyes Delight: Musical Roots of the Baltimore Consort," which featured everything from John Dowland's lute songs to dance tunes like "Joyne hands" published in 1599. I especially liked this tune because of the lovely interaction between the lute and flute. At one point there almost existed a duet between these two instruments when the flute would play a melody that the lute would then copy and sometimes expand upon. Some of the players would further emphasize the element of dance in the music by getting out of their seats and dancing themselves.

The requisite bawdy song from the Broadside ballad tradition came in the form of "The Carman's whistle." Let's just say that this is not the toy whistle that kids play with, and leave it at that. Soprano Danielle Svonavec did a wonderful job not only with this piece, which requires a talented storyteller, but also the pieces she sang that evening.

Sunday's concert was the day of the lute. Ronn McFarlane along with members of the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra featured a concert "Viva Vivaldi: The complete works for lute and strings." The concert was just that: all of Vivaldi's music featuring the lute and strings. While some may think that listening to the same instruments for the entire concert might have been a little monotonous, they would be mistaken. The mixture of concerto works for a larger ensemble and works that featured only two or three instruments assured enough variety to keep the audience's attention throughout the evening.

One of my favorite pieces was the Concerto for lute, viola d'amore, and strings. The program notes state that this concerto was "one of four concertos Vivaldi composed for a special musical fête at the at the Ospedale della Pietà that took place on March 21, 1740." The sympathetic strings of the viola d'amore provide an almost eerie sound, but also a sound that complements the lute in their solo passages.

The final weekend of the Indianapolis Early Music Festival is July 22 and 24, and will feature Plaine and Easie on Friday night and Sacabuche! on Sunday night.

George Walker interviewed members of the Baltimore Consort. Click here to hear his interview.

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