Lutanist Nigel North in Oberlin
In his first appearance at the Conservatory, the storied early plucked-instrument expert, Nigel North, shared his music and wisdom both in a short residency we will not soon forget. His concert, featuring an all-Bach program, left the audience spellbound. It was a joy to listen to his interpretations of pieces we commonly play on the guitar, interpreted on the instrument for which they were written. The sacrifices and compromises we take for granted in our pared-down guitar versions were vividly apparent, as his Baroque lute filled the full but perfectly silent hall. In addition to lute works, North played his arrangement of the complete second violin Partita in Dm, including it's beloved and heroic Ciaconna. Hearing this music played on lute was a special treat; his gently virtuosic, always-elegant, highly nuanced and apparently effortless rendering was breathtaking. Many felt, in this performance, that they'd truly heard that music for the first time.
Nigel taught a master class the next day. As it happens, several of my students are currently playing early instruments. (Check out Oberlin's instrument collection, for student use, in this post). So North was in his element, teaching technique and interpretation both on no less than four different instruments. First up, was Rebecca Klein, on her own Baroque guitar. She played a Prelude and Allemande by Corbetta:
Next up, was Collin Sterne, on the school's theorbo, accompanying Abigail Hakel-Garcia, in the interpretation of a song by Caccini:
Then, Craig Slagh brought out another of the Con's instruments, a Renaissance lute. He played the Dowland chestnut, Lachrimae:
Next was Mohit Dubey, in a piece that was featured in North's concert, Bach's BWV 997 Prelude, played on the guitar:
Finally, our class ended with another Bach Lute Suite movement. Aidan Wiley Lippke played the Allemande from BWV 995:
Nigel sprinkled his lessons with generous dollops of historical context, references to specific 17th and 18th century publications, performance practice nuggets, and helped the students out with instrument-specific technical advice. And of course, offered sage advice on musical interpretation. Thanks, Nigel, for the wonderful music and advice, and we look forward to having you back!
(Nigel's program follows)