Grammy-nominated lutenist is part of Boones Ferry Concert series

by: SUBMITTED - Ronn McFarlane will present a concert of his original contemporary composition for the lute as part of Boones Ferry Concert series.

Boones Ferry Concerts will present Grammy-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane in a solo concert Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church in Wilsonville.

McFarlane, a West Linn resident for the past eight years, was born in West Virginia and spent his early years in Maryland. At age 13, upon hearing “Wipeout” by the Surfaris, he fell in love with music and taught himself to play on a “cranky $16 steel-string guitar.” He kept at it, playing blues and rock music on the electric guitar while studying classic guitar.

He graduated with honors from Shenandoah Conservatory and continued guitar studies at Peabody Conservatory before turning his full attention to the lute in 1978.

The following year, 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.

While touring with the Baltimore Consort from Northern California to Canada, he said he fell in love with this whole region of North America.

“The land was beautiful, the people seemed like they were perhaps more on our wavelength. I just felt very comfortable here,” McFarlane said.

At one point in his career he realized his life’s calling was to play rather than teach, and he didn’t need to be in a certain location.

“My wife and I bounced around from place to place for a while but really found a home in West Linn,” he said. “We feel very comfortable and rooted there.”

Most music for the lute is composed in the Renaissance or Baroque style, and since the instrument had fallen of out of style, no music had been composed for it in the last 200 years. McFarlane recognized the possibilities for the instrument to be played with more flexibility and articulation and he began composing more contemporary pieces.

“I brought together a whole mélange of styles that I’ve loved throughout my whole life, but didn’t play, until I began writing my own music,” McFarlane said. “Suddenly all my musical loves came flooding together.

“The music that I am writing is extremely eclectic, but I would say it tends to be based perhaps more in folk music, a little bit in Renaissance and Baroque style ... certainly has some Celtic or even bluegrass twinges here and there. Sometimes it gets a little bit jazzy, but it’s certainly not jazz. It sounds a bit impressionistic, also.”

McFarlane has more than 30 recordings of Elizabethan and classical music but his 2009 Grammy nomination was for “Indigo Road,”a recording of his own compositions for the lute.

He will perform his original music in concert Oct. 19 at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, 8818 Miley Road in Wilsonville. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 each plus a 50 cent processing fee online at

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