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Christmas with the Baltimore Consort

Ronn McFarlane, lute

The lute, a highly cherished instrument in the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods, was used chiefly for solo-playing and song accompaniment. A descendent of the Arab Ud, the lute has an ancient history stretching back some four millenia. It's a plucked string instrument with half-pear shaped body, a fretted finger board, and peg-box bent back. At the height of its popularity, it was at least as popular as the piano is today. Lute music is written as tablature, a form of notation that indicates finger locations withing a graphical stylization of the instrument.


Ronn McFarlane, in addition to pursuing his solo career as one of the world's virtuoso lutenists, performs lute songs with soprano Julianne Baird and for ten years served as a member of the music faculty at the Peabody Conservatory. He has recorded three lute-song albums for Dorian, as well as three discs of solo lute music (The Scottish Lute, LuteMusic of Dowland and The Renaissance Lute). His eclectic experience as a rock musician, prior to taking up the lute, has been invaluable in stimulating the improvisational side of the Consort's music-making. Ronn also serves as the Baltimore Consort's post-session producer.