March 12, 2018


Sitting Down on the Job

In planning a concert for singers and guitar there are some choices to make:

Limit yourself to strictly guitar music? Or include songs written for its third cousin twice removed, the lute?

Stick to Schubert who published songs with guitar accompaniments, or push the envelope a little, venturing into transcriptions of Schumann and Mendelssohn – Brahms, even?


Do you program only “classical music,” or sing some jazz, some Brazilian sambas, some Rodgers and Hart?


Oh, and when performing, do you sit or stand? 

  Emily Drummond and Allen Krantz rehearsing.


How about a blog that promenades through Lyric Fest’s Humming and Strumming choice by choice…

Our program cannot help but start with the sublime and mournful strains of John Dowland. Armed with lute and sweet throat, Dowland ravished the hearts of his listeners in England, France and Denmark—and some 450 years later, sans tights and ruff, we are still singing and being ravished by his songs. Your turn…


Picture it now. The year is 1597. In her 40th year as queen, Elizabeth I sits in attendance at Shakespeare’s newest play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, (the ink is still drying on his Romeo and Juliet). Spain’s Armada threatens the seas, and in the Tower of London, Catholic spies are tortured on the rack. Elizabeth’s court has decided not to hire John Dowland as a court musician, and so he will soon depart for Denmark, but in the meanwhile he publishes his “First Booke of Songes or Ayres.” Among its 21 songs are the two beauties that open our program: “Come again, sweet love doth now invite” and “Can she excuse my wrongs with virtue’s cloak?”


So many recordings one might share! Here are a few; hope your time permits you at least one.

Barbara Bonney and lutenist Jacob Heringman perform “Come again, sweet love doth now invite”:

Here’s an exuberant and utterly charming version of the same song with French accent and guitar…

And the bitter musings of “Can she excuse my wrongs?”

And just in case you now cannot have enough Dowland, here is a lovely, long recording by Paul O’Dette of Dowland Galliards for the lute. It’s guaranteed to lower anyone’s blood pressure and soothe the weariest heart. May it accompany your day.

Until we hum and strum together, Suzanne

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