The Language of Lute’s Mysterie

Lucas Harris and Wilma van Berkel, 6, 7 and 8 course Renaissance lutes

“No Language is of greater Force to me, than is the Language of Lute's Mysterie" (Thomas Mace, 1676).

Lucas Harris and Wilma van Berkel present a choice of Italian and English Renaissance music played on copies of historical instruments.

Date: Friday, Sept. 15, 2017
Time: 8 p.m.
von Kuster Hall, Music Building
: $25 general admission, $20 students/seniors
: Available for purchase via The Grand Theatre box office online or via phone: 519-672-8800

About the program

Lutes were played and composed for prolifically over an extended period. From the Middle Ages to well into the 18th century many played the bowl shaped, angled neck, double-strung beauties and yet in current times the incredible richness of the repertoire is relegated to a small corner of somewhat specialized music making at Early Music Festivals and Lute Societies. Today most people think of the Renaissance lute as a somewhat mysterious instrument and unfortunately not too many will ever even hear one played and only few might pick one up to learn to play.

As the title of this evening’s program suggests the specific aim is to bring to life the mysterious language of the Renaissance lute. We will do so using several copies of historical lutes made by Wilma, who in recent years also has become a luthier. The evening will focus on Early Italian as well as later English duo and solo music. The audience will get a taste of the Italian composers Francesco da Milano, Giovanni Terzi and the very same Michelangelo Galileo, put in house arrest after he declared his discovery the world revolves around the sun! Later in the programme we move from The Mediterranean to the more northern, English, region where the different cultural context, the local language and composing styles makes the lute speak rather differently.

The artists

Lucas Harris studied the lute and early music at the Civica scuola di musica di Milano and then at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen. He’s been the steady lutenist in Tafelmusik continuo section since 1999, and he settled in Toronto in 2004. Since then he has made many contributions to Toronto’s thriving music scene, including the creation of the Toronto Continuo Collective, the Vesuvius Ensemble, and the Lute Legends Ensemble. He is on faculty at the Tafelmusik Summer and Winter Institutes, Oberlin Conservatory’s Baroque Performance Institute, and the Vancouver Early Music Festival’s Baroque Vocal Programme. In 2014, Lucas completed graduate studies in choral conducting and was chosen as the Artistic Director of the Toronto Chamber Choir. He has also directed projects for the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Ohio State University Opera Program, Les voix baroques, and the Toronto Consort. Lucas is also the proud father of Daphnée Gilardeau Harris (age 5).

Wilma van Berkel, born in the Hague, the Netherlands, obtained both her teacher's and performer's degrees from the Rotterdam Conservatory, where she studied with Hans van Goch and Jorge Oraison. She was awarded two consecutive Foreign Exchange Scholarships from the government of Czechoslovakia and a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Culture to study at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts with Štepán Rak.  Apart from maintaining a busy guitar studio at the Faculty of Music of Western University, she also teaches at her home studio. She has played many a chamber music concert. For years she performed in the guitar duo with Robert Kubica (also in the DWFOM), with Duo Resonance (Sibylle Marquardt, flute), with whom she recorded the disc “From the New Village”, and with violinist Corey Gemmell as well as soprano Sherry Steele. Wilma also has a keen interest in early music and studied with Lucas Harris at the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute and The Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute as well as through an ongoing connection with the Toronto Continuo Collective, an informal 17th century “pluck band” on period instruments.  

In the spring of 2010 she became seriously interested in the art of lute building. In 2012 she travelled to Vancouver for the first time to meet with builders Ray Nurse, Grant Tomlinson and Travis Carey. Various courses with master builder Grant Tomlinson followed and in 2014 Travis Carey, who studied as an apprentice under Grant, decided to take her on as his own protégé. Wilma is now in her third year of extensive studies in the craft, has her own shop and is working for international clients. She has just completed a series of residencies in Vancouver with the generous support of a National Residency Grant as well as a Chalmers Professional Development Grant from the Ontario Arts Council.