Paul O'Dette at Oberlin
Paul O'Dette, the dean of American lutanists, paid us a visit, giving a solo recital and a master class for the students. Known for his encyclopedic knowledge about early music and his impeccable musicianship, and renowned for his countless definitive recordings, his visit was much anticipated by the entire Oberlin community. He played a concert comprised entirely of Elizabethan music: half Dowland, and half other composers active in England at the time. It was played with his customary expressive elegance, virtuosic control and joie de vivre. He continues to set the bar high for other practitioners in the field. Our capacity crowd responded in kind, giving him a standing ovation. It what was one of the concert highlights of the season.
During his master class, Paul was able address strictly early music on early instruments; this is of course not always the case. Rebecca Klein, a recent dedicatée of the Baroque guitar, brought her new instrument and played a De Visée Allemande. Paul offered encouragement and notes on both interpretation, historical sources, and technique.
Next, an ensemble of Historical Performance students performed excerpts from Orphée, a cantata by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault. The ensemble featured the absolutely extraordinary soprano, Juliana Zara, assisted by Moisés López Ruiz, baroque flute, Matthew Millkey, baroque violin, Christopher Egerton, viola da gamba, and Mitchell Miller, harpsichord. Their handling of this relatively obscure and stylistically difficult repertoire was impressive. Paul gave lots of advice and was assisted in the lesson by his wife, fellow longtime Eastman faculty and viola da gambist, Christel Thielmann.
Finally, another guitar student, Brian King, played a selection on the 8-course lute, the Dowland favorite, Lachrymae Pavane. New at the lute (King had only been playing it for a matter of weeks), he still rendered it effectively and gave O'Dette the pleasure of talking about one of his longtime lute repertoire fixtures. The lesson included advice on phrasing and rhetoric, but did not end without a few technique and fingering suggestions. It was an excellent class and was well-attended.
We were happy to have Paul back to Oberlin, where once, long ago (in the 1970's) he was briefly on the faculty! Many thanks to Paul, and to Christel as well, for their contribution to our musical life at Oberlin.