Flow my tears by John Dowland
Que bonito niño chiquito
Wilt thou unkind by John Dowland
Venes mes serfs by Jacob C. non Papa
Sorrow Stay by John Dowland
Flow my tears by John Dowland
My current musical activities:
Some videos with :
Home Videos of me playing my instruments:
Marco Dall'Aquila - Ricercare
Marco Dall'Aquila - Ricercare (another version)
Mr. Dowland's Midnight by John Dowland
Soneto -Enrique de Valderrábano
I have the great fortune to work with two of the things I love most in life: making music and building lutes. Building a period instrument from a few boards of rough-sawn wood is a very satisfying experience in itself, culminating the moment I string it, and play the music of the great old lute and vihuela masters, which has been an integral part of my life for the last 30 years.
As a child in La Palma, a small island in the Canary Islands, I began my musical journey by playing the clarinet in the town's wind band. I soon realised that polyphony was an aspect of music that deeply appealed to me, and so I decided to learn classical guitar, which, after much study and dedication, fulfilled my dream of being able to play Bach's music on it.
After graduating from high school, I moved to Tenerife where I continued my guitar studies at the conservatory. During this time I discovered the music of Francesco Da Milano and was immediately drawn to it. Dowland, Holborne, Cutting and the Spanish vihuela masters soon followed. At this time I spent most of my time transcribing and studying lute and vihuela music rather than playing the natural repertoire for the guitar. As I became increasingly aware of the limitations of this instrument for the repertoire, I auditioned to the "Conservatorium van Amsterdam" where I continued my guitar studies while taking lute and vihuela lessons. After graduation, I reapplied to begin full-time lute studies under the direction of . For the next five years I devoted myself intensely and passionately to the study of the lute, vihuela, archlute and theorbo.
After graduation, I began a busy chamber music career, which initially proved to be very exciting and interesting. At that time there were not many lutenists who could play continuo, and work was plentiful. I worked with many ensembles in Holland and abroad as I continued to develop my knowledge of the solo and lutesong repertoire. During my studies I became particularly interested in the lute song repertoire and began a fruitful collaboration with Valeria Mignaco, a soprano with whom I still work today. Our shared passion and ideas for this music have led us to an intense international concert activity, frequently performing at the most important early music and chamber music festivals.
Meanwhile, the initial appeal of the singular kind of life of a travelling continuo player gradually began to lose most of its appeal. The reason was not the work itself (which can actually be very fulfilling and interesting), but my personality. Spending my life travelling from city to city and performing with little rehearsal time began to be more frustrating than fulfilling. This fact became even more apparent when compared to the work Valeria and I were doing at the time, rehearsing intensely and meticulously to bring out the essence of each song in our programmes.
Another aspect that developed at this time was my entry into lutherie. The opportunity to build my own instruments became very appealing. While I continued to work as a musician, I pursued lute-making in my spare time. I built my first 6-course lute with a few tools in my small flat. The instrument sounded acceptable, but far from the ideal sound I was looking for. Instead of building the next instrument, I decided to experiment until I was finally quite happy with it. This was an important decision, because it allowed me to understand how the instrument produces sound and how subtle changes have a huge impact on it. This ideal sound in my head and knowledge of lute playing not only led me in the right direction, but allowed me to develop my intuition and skills as a luthier. This instrument is still in excellent condition today and has a beautiful sound, even if its craftsmanship is far from my current standards. You can listen to it played in this video by Rob MacKillop:
Soon after, I built some new instruments for my own use, and as the quality of my craftsmanship increased, word of my new occupation spread among colleagues and friends who asked me to build instruments for them. This led to my first commissions and the opportunity to combine my musical activities with instrument making. This also allowed me to rethink my role as a musician and establish my priorities. As a result, I stopped playing continuo and decided to concentrate exclusively on the solo and lute-song repertoire of the Renaissance, as well as on lute making; a decision which, after many years, I have never regretted and which has proved successful and very fulfilling.
After settling in Amsterdam and Leipzig, my workshop is currently located in the beautiful city of Seville in Spain. The enormous historical and artistic heritage of this ancient city is a constant inspiration for my work.
If you would like to know more about my approach to lute making, please click below: