Taking its name from the influential 16th-century Spanish harpist, Ludovico, the Band is acclaimed for its performances of music from the 16th to the 18th centuries, including the great works from the Italian and Spanish Baroque.
Led by Marshall McGuire (harp) and Tommie Andersson (theorbo/lute), and joined by Rachael Beesley and Julia Fredersdorff (violins), Ruth Wilkinson (viola da gamba/recorders) and Samantha Cohen (theorbo/guitar/lute), the ensemble emerged from the desire to create a predominately plucked basso continuo band, and showcase the solo repertoire of early plucked instruments.
Melbourne's own countertenor Maximilian Riebl soars to the heights of 17th-century song, as he joins Ludovico's Band in a program of favourite works by Purcell, Handel and Blow.
Artistic Director Marshall McGuire has this to say:
The 17th century was a period of mixed fortunes for English music. The reign of Charles I from 1625-1649 saw not only significant political upheaval, but also a revival of interest in music and the arts. He amassed an enormous collection of European masters, inviting Rubens and Van Dyck to work in England, as well as buying numerous works by Raphael and Titian. Importantly, he established the position of Master of the King’s Music, a post which lasts to this day.
Musicians who followed in the footsteps of the earlier masters – Dowland, Gibbons, Tallis – such as William Lawes, saw a change of focus onto private presentations of music, the court patronage having been uprooted during the earlier part of the 1600s. In the latter part of the century, following the restoration of the monarchy, theatres were reopened, choral music was once again being developed in the churches, and composers such as John Blow, Henry Purcell and Georg Frideric Handel flourished.
Ludovico’s Band has, since its inception in 2002, always been drawn to the English style. Handel, Dowland, Lawes, Blow, Arne and others have been regular guests in our programs. And much of that music has been vocal. The plucked instrument consort is a perfect platter of sound on which to serve the vocal delights. A delicate solo lute with countertenor, or a full orchestral cohort in the mighty and moving Chaconnes of Purcell – all is possible. We delight in the possibilities of orchestration inherent in these works – with often only a figured bass to work from (i.e. a single bass note with numerical figures above to indicate the harmonies) provides us with endless opportunities to re-orchestrate, re-design and reshape these works.
In this program, the first presented by Melbourne Recital Centre in the new Hanson Dyer Hall, we once again partner with award-winning countertenor Maximilian Riebl to explore a century and more of music from this rich period of musical history. From the tragic overture to Dido and Aeneas to Handel’s triumphant ‘Choice of Hercules’; from Anne Boleyn’s tragic lament written in the Tower of London to Dowland’s saddest song; and from Purcell, two masterpieces – Happy the lover, and the magnificent and joyous Chaconne from The Fairy Queen. We can think of no better way to conclude our 2019 season that with this glorious evocation of grand musical times.
Ludovico’s Band with countertenor Max Riebl perform their concert Sound the Trumpet in the gorgeous Hanson Dyer Hall on Saturday 2 November.