Thursday, May 16, 2019, 1:00 PM
University of Oregon, Berwick Hall
Introducing the James River Music Book
Loren Ludwig, LeStrange Viols and ACRONYM
Dubbed the James River Music Book, this newly discovered manuscript contains the first known solo music for viola da gamba in an American source, the earliest known organ music in an American manuscript source, and fragments of other early eighteenth-century musical items, including a Handel aria and excerpts from English music theory texts. Subsequent eighteenth-century hands have added a wealth of dances and tunes for fiddle and flute. Paleographic and codicological evidence establishes the JRMB as having resided in the (now) Southeastern U.S. since the 1730s, and the contents point to a lively, multi-generational musical culture that brought together diverse European and American musical influences. The lecture-demonstration on this newly discovered source will include the first public description of its contents, a performance of selections from the manuscript (including the collection’s two anonymous suites for solo viola da gamba), and a discussion of some of the challenging critical and interpretive issues introduced by a Colonial source of European and syncretic music compiled by a family of slave owners. For example, if a manuscript music compilation is the material trace of historically situated musical activities, how does a contemporary act of musicking with such an artifact at its center navigate various historical, musical, and social continuities and disjunctions? The JRMB sheds new light on the eighteenth-century musical culture of the Virginia colony and offers a new context for existing scholarship on important sources of Colonial music including those at Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg.
Loren Ludwig is a scholar-performer based in Baltimore, MD. He studied viola da gamba at Oberlin Conservatory and completed his Ph.D. in musicology at the University of Virginia in 2011. As a music historian, he researches what he terms “polyphonic intimacy,” the idea that music in the Western tradition is constructed to foster social relationships among its performers and listeners. Current projects investigate the confluence of music and alchemy in the seventeenth-century writings of Michael Maier and instrumental practices of Revolutionary and Early Republic America. As a viol player, Loren performs widely as a soloist and chamber musician. He is a co-founder of the critically acclaimed ensembles LeStrange Viols and ACRONYM, a seventeenth-century string band. Loren has served as musicology faculty at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, Grinnell College, and the New Zealand School of Music and teaches chamber music and performance practice at residencies and festivals across several continents.