The Lute Society: Lutefest 2020 Review

Reflections and review of the Lute Society residential playing weekend - Lutefest 2020

Between 05 and 08 March 2020, due to courtesy of the Lute Society and Benslow Music, I spent a fabulous extended weekend at Benslow Music in Hitchin where I participated in the LuteFest. In a relatively short period of time, this event provided me with possibilities I have never dreamt about. As a bursary student, I had classes and master classes with Nigel North, Michał Gondko and Lynda Sayce. I was absolutely delighted with the great knowledge of teachers and their fantastic approach towards students. Working under supervision of such experienced musicians allowed me to improve my technique and focus on frequently overlooked details. I also took part in the tutor’s concert playing lute quartets of Nicolas Vallet with the aforementioned lutenists. On the one hand, it was a great challenge for me, but on the other, an unforgettable experience and a great ennoblement.

Apart from solo performance, there were many opportunities to play chamber music with other musicians, e.g. duets, trios, chordophony quartets or Roy’s extravaganza classes. It was an exceptional experience for me because in the place I live there are not many active lutenists. I was also enchanted with the lute family of Lynda Sayce. It was a great privilege to play some of her instruments. I highly appreciated the fact that so many people were eager to share their instruments with the other. Due to this fact I was able to play the finest instruments made by English luthiers that are not very common in Poland. I really enjoyed conversations with luthiers who apart from revealing technical issues regarding instruments also made available their top class lutes and guitars to the participants of the event. I was absolutely amazed with the spectacular concert of Nigel North and Michał Gondko on 6 March during which the musicians performed lute duets from Renaissance Italy.

After an intensive day we sang English madrigals in the bar ("long live fair Oriana!") and enjoyed late night conversations. Every participant of the LuteFest was very kind and open to discuss different musical and extra-musical issues. The organisation and the entire logistics of the LuteFest were great. It was a great honour to be the part of this event. I would like to express my profound gratitude to Chris Goodwin, the Lute Society and Benslow Music for allowing me to participate in the LuteFest. If it weren't for the bursary, I would not be able to be there. This exceptional experience provided me with new early music perspectives and allowed to make progress. I hope I would be able to participate in future Lute Society’s events as well as to play and spend time with all those inspiring lute enthusiasts. I have to admit that we were very lucky because it was probably the last heart-warming event before the outbreak of this unprecedented crisis.

Adam Dzwonnik

See further details about LuteFest at Benslow.