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Public Research Seminar: Elizabeth Kenny

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Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

200 Jennens Road

Birmingham

B4 7XR

United Kingdom

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Public Research Seminar: Elizabeth Kenny (University of Southampton) lute and theorbo

Extending the repertoire for Extended Necks

Lute technology underwent something of a revolution at the end of the sixteenth century. A new breed of instruments with long neck extensions expanded the instrument family’s range downwards. Prototypes were tested, tunings explored and a flurry of collaborations between instrument makers and player-composers spawned a new the repertoire for the new theorbo and archlute. The theorbo, the largest of the family, is now a commonplace feature of late renaissance and baroque ensembles. To misquote Samuel Johnson, there is a “dog on its hind legs” quality about expressionistic beauty and melodic ease coming from such a large and eccentrically-tuned instrument, which is intriguing to composers now. Today's players improvise and play other people’s music, but rarely compose, so a new form of collaboration is emerging, where a player’s idea of what their instrument means and sounds like is in dialogue with the different preoccupations of a composer. Each gets extended imaginatively in the process. This lecture will explore past and ongoing collaborations with composers such as James MacMillan, Benjamin Oliver and Nico Muhly, as well as taking in a look at the instrument’s seventeenth century voice.

Part of Birmingham International Recorder and Early Music Festival [http://www.bcu.ac.uk/conservatoire/events-calendar/recorder-fest]

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Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

200 Jennens Road

Birmingham

B4 7XR

United Kingdom

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