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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Kenny celebrates Dowland year

Published: 18 September 2013

Lute player and Southampton's Head of Early Music Elizabeth Kenny had a busy summer celebrating the 450th anniversary of the birth of the great renaissance composer and lute player John Dowland.

Solo, song and viol consort collaborations took her from the USA (Boston and New York) to Antwerp, Potsdam, London, Aldeburgh and other European festivals, and finally to the Proms for the closing concert of the Proms chamber Music season. She has explored Dowland's iconic lute songs and Lachrymae consort repertory with eminent collaborators such as tenors Ian Bostridge and James Gilchrist, counter-tenors Robin Blaze and Iestyn Davies, and sopranos Sophie Daneman and Elin Manahan Thomas, and with leading viol consorts Fretwork and Phantasm. She commissioned and edited work from leading scholars and players for a special Dowland issue of the Oxford University Press journal Early Music (May 2013), and In July she co-curated a series of Dowland-themed concerts at the York Early Music Festival, for which she is one of the artistic advisors.

In addition to her Dowland activities, she has developed a collaboration between members of two groups: her own Theatre of the Ayre, and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, on a programme featuring Roberts Johnsons from Shakespeare to the Mississippi delta. Following their pilot concert in Turner Sims last December, Lutes and Ukes performances at festivals in London and York ran alongside an ambitious education project involving 360 children from twelve schools in the two cities, Youths Lutes and Ukes, where the children sang and played Johnsons alongside their own blues compositions and renaissance improvisations.

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