Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick

 

 Carolyn Surrick, viola da gamba has a B.A. in music from the University of California Santa Cruz and an M.A. in musicology from George Washington University. She founded Ensemble Galilei in 1990, and they started touring in 1995. The group has recorded fourteen CDs and has performed hundreds of concerts in 46 states, Mexico, and Canada.

Ensemble Galilei pioneered and then toured multi-disciplinary projects starting in the 1990’s using pictures, prose and poetry, and music. Surrick produced five of these special projects including a partnership with The National Geographic Society for the creation of First Person: Stories from the  Edge of the World as well as a collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art to produce First Person: Seeing America. Ensemble Galilei’s most recent tour with longtime collaborator, NPR’s Neal Conan, included award-winning journalist Anne Garrels. This extraordinary look at the lives of wounded warriors, and life as a war correspondent, is based on Surrick’s book, Between War and Here.

A collaborator at heart, when the opportunity arose to create new work with Ronn McFarlane, she leapt. Their shared musical sensibilities and the extraordinary combination of the two instruments has been a revelation, for which she is deeply grateful.

GRAMMY-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane strives to bring the lute – the most popular instrument of the Renaissance – into today’s musical mainstream and make it accessible to a wider audience.

Born in West Virginia, Ronn grew up in Maryland. At thirteen, upon hearing “Wipeout” by the Surfaris, he fell madly in love with music and taught himself to play on a “cranky sixteen-dollar steel string guitar.” Ronn kept at it, playing blues and rock music on the electric guitar while studying classical guitar. He graduated with honors from Shenandoah Conservatory and continued guitar studies at Peabody Conservatory before turning his full attention and energy to the lute in 1978.  The next year, Mr. McFarlane began to perform solo recitals on the lute and became a member of the Baltimore Consort. Since then, he has toured throughout the United States, Canada, and  Europe with the Baltimore Consort and as a soloist.

McFarlane was a faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory from 1984 to 1995, teaching lute and lute-related subjects. In 1996, Mr. McFarlane was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music from Shenandoah Conservatory for his achievements in bringing the lute and its music to the world. He has over 40 recordings on the Dorian/Sono Luminus label, including solo albums, lute duets, flute & lute duets, viola da gamba & lute duets, lute songs, the complete lute music of Vivaldi, a collection of Elizabethan lute music and poetry, and recordings with the Baltimore Consort.

Ronn has composed new music for the lute, building on the tradition of the lutenist/composers of past centuries. His original compositions are the focus of his solo CD, Indigo Road, which received a GRAMMY Award Nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album of 2009.

In 2010 Ronn founded Ayreheart, an ensemble brought together to perform new compositions as well as early music. Ayreheart’s first CD release, One Morning, consists of all-original music by Ronn McFarlane. Ayreheart’s 2016 release, Barley Moon, blends folk music and art music from Renaissance and Medieval England, Scotland and Wales.

Ronn’s newest solo album, The Celtic Lute, features his arrangements of traditional Scottish and Irish music from the 17th and 18th centuries. And his 2020 release, Fermi’s Paradox, with Carolyn Surrick, viola da gamba, features an eclectic blend of Renaissance, Baroque, original music, hymns, and folk tunes from Ireland, Scotland, England, and Sweden.