Market StreetMusic keeps its vibrant music roster going into spring with the return of Renaissance-and-modern music trio Ayreheart. The ensemble — Ronn McFarlane, lute; Willard Morris, fretless bass, violin and colascione (a kind of bass lute); and Mattias Rucht, percussion — brings the lute and related period instruments into the 21 Century with all the energy of a traditional rock band. The Friday, April 20, 7:30pm concert is the second appearance for the group in Market Street Music’s lineup.
“Ayreheart returns to Market Street Music because they are simply remarkable!” says Market Street Music Director David Schelat. “These musicians, who all have backgrounds in rock and jazz, create a level of energy that jumps off the stage and into the audience. It really is a bit like a rock concert, except the music is from the 14th to 17th Centuries.”
So, let’s back up. What’s a lute, exactly? It’s a stringed instrument (similar to a guitar, although it is plucked rather than strummed) with a long neck of frets, a round body and flat front. Descended from the Arabic oud, the lute was the most popular instrument in the Western world during the Renaissance.
The Ayreheart ensemble was founded in 2010 by Grammy-nominated lutenist McFarlane, who had long been writing and performing music for solo lute and found many of his ideas were more expansive than for just a solo instrument.
“It was a natural evolution to expand into an ensemble that could play all the parts,” says McFarlane. “There’s also an exchange of ideas and energy with an ensemble that becomes more that the sum of its parts.”
In addition to original music, Ayreheart performs Renaissance music, “…from the time when the lute was considered the ‘Prince of Instruments,’” as McFarlane notes. “There’s a tremendous amount of music that exists from that period…that appeals to us very much.”
The last time Ayreheart played at Market Street Music, they presented an all-Renaissance music show. This time around, McFarlane says they’ll offer up a generous helping of Celtic music as well as his original music in the mix.
“I want audiences to come away happy and uplifted by our music, but also to hear the lute as an expressive instrument for modern as well as Renaissance music,” says McFarlane. “It’s exciting to break new musical ground for the lute, combining Renaissance and modern instruments, and creating a new body of music that blends elements of folk, Celtic, bluegrass and classical,” he says.
Tickets are $20 ($10 students) online at marketstreetmusicde.org and $25 at the door the evening of the show.