Lovers of the lute can treat themselves to a three-course banquet at this year’s Vancouver Early Music Festival. Anyone with an interest in William Shakespeare and his times will want to hear Beyond the Labyrinth: In Search of John Dowland—the bard’s close contemporary and an influence on the love songs in his plays. On August 2, lutenist and musical director Lucas Harris and the singers of Montreal’s Les Voix Baroques interpret works of the great English composer, a songwriter on a par with the finest today.
LuteFest 1: Parables of the Silk Road (July 30) features Harris on lute, Bassam Bishara on oud, and Wen Zhao on pipa in a concert that brings together three ancient traditions of plucked instruments from cultures on the early trade routes stretching from China to the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
The lute travels further into Europe with LuteFest 2: Guitar Music by Murcia and Lute Music by Weiss (August 1). Baroque guitarist Charles Weaver and baroque lutenist Robert Barto share a recital exploring the contrapuntal music of one of J.S. Bach’s buddies, Sylvius Leopold Weiss, and the dance-inspired compositions of Spain’s Santiago de Murcia.
And for something completely different, earthier, and earlier, festival favourite Benjamin Bagby returns with his Paris-based Sequentia ensemble to present The Unknown Carmina Burana (August 9). The roisterous medieval music, the source of Bavarian composer Carl Orff’s famous work of that name, is performed on harps, organistrum (early hurdy-gurdy), and flute—to texts that are by turns moralistic, satiric, erotic, and scandalous.
All of the above shows are at the Roy Barnett Concert Hall.