The Lute in Art

Simon Rees
28th February 2017, 7:00pm

The lute is an instrument as beautiful as the music it plays. It has featured in paintings for many centuries, often with a strongly allegorical significance, and has been associated with Orpheus and Venus as well as with troubadors and courtiers, prostitutes and clowns. Simon Rees shows how the shape of the lute developed from the 12th century to its last flourish in the 18th century, and how lute makers have used paintings of lutes to recreate these rare and fascinating instruments. The lecture is illustrated with pictures and musical examples. The lutenist Luke Starkey will play a variety of lute pieces during this lecture.

About the Speaker

Simon Rees was born in 1958, and educated at Colchester Royal Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge, matriculating in 1976. After teaching English in Italy and Japan, he worked for 23 years as dramaturg for National Opera, producing programmes and surtitles, and giving lectures on opera. Freelance since 2012, he reviews, translates and writes articles for opera companies, as well as lecturing on music and art for NADFAS and other organisations. He has published several novels, including The Devil’s Looking-Glass (Methuen), and two collections of poems, Animals, Beasts and Creatures and The Wood below Coelbren (Poetry Salzburg Press).  He lives in Cardiff with his wife Yoko Kawaguchi, who publishes and lectures on Japanese garden design and other aspects of Japanese culture.


About the Lutenist

Luke Starkey graduated from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with a degree in Composition and has since taken to early plucked strings. He is studying lute and theorbo with Lynda Sayce. As a continuo player he has performed with emerging ensembles such as Welsh Baroque Players, The Tomkins Consort and Opus 8 Ensemble. As well as ensemble playing, Luke has also gained much experience performing with singers; from performing in opera productions to lute songs of the renaissance period. He has also lectured on the study of lute lablature. As a composer his compositions have been performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Welsh Camerata and the Arditti Quartet.


Painting – The Lute Player by Caravaggio, 1596


Menu for Supper

Steamed salmon with a hollandaise sauce with new potatoes and vegetables or stuffed peppers with tomato sauce (v)

New York cheese cake with raspberry coulis or fresh fruit salad

N.B. the Lit & Phil office have to inform venues of catering numbers approximately 7 days before an event so please make sure you book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.