Paul O’Dette, John Dowland, and Youposted on October 7th, 2009 by Sara Wintz
Here at Peak Performances, we’re always pleased when we come across a new slice of media that might illuminate the content of our upcoming performances. And this find is no different!
Check out this great audio snippet of Paul O’Dette performing with soprano Ellen Hargis on Saint Paul Sunday, with some light Q+A.
I’m no dedicated follower of 16th-century Lute or Renaissance Soprano Repertoires, but I have to admit that this Minnesota Public Radio broadcast is kind of cool and really brings a lot of background about Baroque Music to light. On October 25th, Paul O’Dette joins Peak Performances at the Alexander Kasser Theater to perform the lute music of John Dowland—known in many music circles as “The English Orpheus.”
Despite (or perhaps, because of) his bummed-out disposition, Dowland’s compositions were incredibly popular, and were published in more European countries than anyone else’s at the time. Dowland’s sorrow may have come from the lack of respect exhibited by younger musicians toward his work, or from the indifference he sensed from the royal court towards his music, which Paul O’Dette points out in his liner notes for his upcoming show at Kasser.
As sorrowful as Dowland may have been, his music was actually quite catchy. Jed Wheeler, Executive Director here at Peak Performances, refers to Dowland as the Sinatra of his day, in his 09/10 season opener, because of Dowland’s popularity among European listeners; frankly, I regard Dowland as more of the Dashboard Confessional-type. (Maybe that’s generational.)
Nevertheless, Dowland was responsible for broadening the possibilities for the lute and its music; again, Paul O’Dette: “No other lutenist was able to get so much out of the instrument so efficiently.”
There are some replications of past trends that seem completely irrelevant, dated, even humorous at this point… yet it never ceases to amaze me how some fashionable dispositions are seamlessly replicated over and over again.
John Dowland: I dub thee “English Emo.”
Sara Wintz is Communications Assistant in the Office of Arts & Cultural Programming at Montclair State University. Her writing has appeared on Ceptuetics and in The Poetry Project Newsletter.