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 feel immensely fortunate to be able to work with two of the things I love most in life; playing music and lute making. Building a historical instrument from a few planks of rough sawn wood is in itself a very satisfying experience that peaks the moment I put strings on it and I play the music of the great old lute and vihuela masters that has been an integral part of my life for the last 30 years.
As a child in a La Palma, a small island in the Canary Islands, I began my musical journey playing the clarinet in the town's wind band. Soon after I realized that polyphony was an aspect of music that attracted me in a very profound way so I decided to learn to play classical guitar that, after much study and dedication, allowed my dream of being able to play Bach's music on it.
After finishing high school, I moved to Tenerife where I continued my guitar studies at the conservatory. In that time, I discovered the music of Francesco Da Milano and I was immediately drawn to it. Dowland, Holborne, Cutting and the Spanish vihuela masters came soon after. By that time instead of playing the natural repertoire for the guitar, I spent most of my practice time transcribing and studying lute and vihuela music. Being progressively 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 graduating I auditioned again to become a full-time graduate lute student under the guidance of Fred Jacobs. The coming 5 years I dedicated myself to the study of the lute, vihuela, archlute and theorbo intensely and passionately.
After graduating I started a prolific chamber music activity that proved very exciting and interesting at first. By that time there were not many lutenists who could play continuo, and work was plentiful. I worked with many ensembles in Holland and abroad while continuing to broaden my knowledge of the solo and lutesong repertoire. During my studies, I took special interest into the lutesong repertoire starting a fruitful collaboration with Valeria Mignaco, a soprano with whom I still work today. Our common passion and ideas about this music have driven us to an intense international concert activity, frequently performing at main early and chamber music festivals and venues.
In the meanwhile, the initial appeal of the singular kind of life of a touring continuo player started progressively to lose most of its appeal. The reason wasn't the work itself (that indeed can be very fulfilling and interesting) but my own personality. Spending my life traveling from city to city and performing with little rehearsal time began to be more frustrating than fulfilling. This fact was more clearly evident when compared to the work Valeria and me were doing at the time, rehearsing intense and meticulously in order to get to the essence of every song in our programmes.
Another aspect developing at the time was my initiation into luthery. The fascination for woodwork that I was carrying from childhood and the possibility to make my own instruments became overwhelmingly powerful. While continuing to work as a musician I pursued lute-making in my spare time. I made my first 6-course lute with a few tools in my little apartment. The instrument sounded acceptable but far from the ideal sound I was looking for so, instead of making the next one, I determined to experiment until eventually, I was quite satisfied with it. This was a crucial decision since it allowed me to understand how the instrument produces sound and how subtle changes have a tremendous influence on it. That ideal sound in my mind, and the knowledge of lute playing not only took me in the right direction but allowed me to develop my intuition and skills as a luthier. That instrument is still in very good condition today and, although its craftsmanship is far from my present standards, it has a fine tone. You can listen to it played by Rob MacKillop in this video:
New instruments for my own use came soon after and, as the quality of my craftsmanship increased, news about my new activity started to spread among colleagues and friends who requested that I made instruments for them. That is how the first commissions started and envisioned the possibility of combining my musical activities with instrument making. It also allowed me to reconsider my role as a musician and determine my priorities. As a result, I stopped playing continuo and decided to focus myself exclusively into the Renaissance solo and song repertoires as well as lute making; a decision that, after the years, not only have never regretted be has proven to be successful and very fulfilling.
Presently my workshop is located in the beautiful city of Seville in Spain. The enormous historical and artistic heritage of this ancient city is a constant inspiration to my work.
If you would like to know more about to my approach to lute-making please click below: