FRETWORK, with LUTENIST ELIZABETH KENNY perform Music of John Dowland


Lacrimae:  Music of John Dowland in observance of the 450th anniversary of his birth.

SATURDAY, NOV. 2, 2013, 7:30 PM
First Christian Church 1601 Sunset Blvd. Houston, Texas 77005

Pre-concert talk by ensemble members at 6:45pm

View Photos from the Concert

Read a preview of the program


One of the world’s leading viola da gamba consorts, Fretwork, brings their contemporary sensibility to John Dowland’s famous collection, Lachrimae. To honor the 450th anniversary of Dowland’s birth, we embark on a transcendental voyage from despair to hope through an extraordinary collection of music for viols and lute based on his most famous song, Flow my teares

Over the last 25 years, this U.K.-based ensemble has brought music old and new to audiences hitherto unfamiliar with the inspiring sound-world of the viol.  For their 2013 Tour, Fretwork will be joined by the incomparable British lutenist Elizabeth Kenny.

The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at First Christian Church, 1601 Sunset Blvd., Houston 77005. A pre-concert talk with ensemble members starts at 6:45 p.m.

“Dowland is one of the great songwriters in English, along with Purcell, Dylan and Lennon & McCartney, and one of England’s finest composers,” says Fretwork founding member Richard Boothby. The group, which made its debut in 1986, is known for playing a wide-ranging repertoire from Renaissance music to modern compositions, though it specializes in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.

Dowland’s “Lachrimae,” published in 1604, explicitly calls for the combination of lute and viols. At the core of the collection are seven pavans, which constitute the only known thematically linked sequence of movements using the same dance form. The first of these pavans is an instrumental version of Dowland’s most famous song, “Flow My Teares,” and the six subsequent movements are variations on it.

“To play the seven ‘Lachrimae’ pavans in order is a transcendental experience,” says Boothby. “The music has an overriding sense of purpose and direction which carries us through from darkness into light, from despair to hope, from falling to rising, from minor to major. I hope we can convey something of this journey to the audience.”

Boothby adds that the pavans “have an intensity that is created by masterful harmonic and contrapuntal ingenuity, where all five parts are compressed into a remarkably small range. This requires an extraordinarily felicitous rhythmic lightness.”

Fretwork’s Houston Early Music appearance marks the first stop of a two-week North American tour by the group, which includes Asako Morikawa, Reiko Ichise, Liam Byrne and Richard Tunnicliffe, in addition to Boothby. The program also features the U.S. premiere of a 2004 work by Adrian Williams that brings a contemporary sensibility to Dowland’s pavans.