Sunday 14 May 2023, 10:00, Dutch Reformed Church, R160
The early music ensemble Lutesong Consort, with Lente Louw (Mezzo soprano, artistic direction), Willem Bester (Tenor), Vera Vuković (Chitarrone), Uwe Grosser (Lute, Baroque guitar) and Lilavan Gangen (Percussion), presents a selection of favourite Spanish and Italian songs from late Renaissance and early Baroque, arranged for a duo of voices and lutes. (Biographies below)
Lente Louw is an established classical soloist and ensemble singer. She holds an LLM from North-West University (South Africa), where she trained under Lieder specialist Werner Nel. Other teachers include Emma Renzi, Nellie du Toit, Hanna van Schalkwyk and lastly Minette Pearce, who supervised her MMus recitals in 2015. From 2007 she sang regularly in various oratorio performances under conductor Barry Smith until his retirement in 2015, as well as in solo and chamber music recitals of romantic and modern repertoire with pianist Albie van Schalkwyk. Over the past twelve years she has developed a keen interest in early music and has been involved in a great many varied productions not only as a singer, but also as arranger and director. Out of over 100 concert performances, her personal highlights include projects with the Cape Consort in collaboration with the Fugard Theatre, specifically the ‘Monteverdi Project’ (a series of madrigal concerts), ‘Cupid’ in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis and ‘Dido’ in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas; her performances in Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus with Camerata Tinta Barocca; her tour of Germany and Switzerland as ‘Second Woman’ with ensemble così facciamo in their Dido and Aenneas. Lente and her husband, lutenist Uwe Grosser, founded the Lutesong Duo in 2017 and subsequently recorded an album, ‘Chiaroscuro’. They have since expanded into the Lutesong Consort, who perform works for larger vocal ensembles. Under Lente’s artistic direction the Lutesong Consort has appeared at the Cape Town Baroque Festival, 6 Spin Street Gallery and the Baxter Theatre. They have recently collaborated with the Cape Town Baroque Orchestra for a large-scale Christmas concert at St Andrews Presbyterian Church. Lente is also passionate about church music and sings the mass every second Sunday as part of the St Michaels and all Angels quartet, directed by Deon Irish. Lente teaches singing at Bishops Diocesan College, Herschel Girls School and The Music HQ in Cape Town. Her teaching method is text-driven and performance orientated, and she has more than 12 years of experience teaching high school learners.
Lilavan Gangen is a multi-instrumentalist based in Cape Town, specializing in drum set and percussion. He holds a Bachelor of Music in jazz percussion from the South African College of music. He has performed as a drummer with many jazz, pop and rock projects, while also working as percussionist in classical orchestras, big bands and other contemporary styles of music. His skill and knowledge span the wordly range from Latin America to the Indian Subcontinent. Having grown up in an Indian household, Lilavan has a strong bond with a broad range of Indian music. He has been the resident harmonium player at the Siva Aaalayam for many years. In 2015 he travelled to India to study Mridangam (a traditional South Indian double-sided drum) and Carnatic vocal music. Some of his recent ensemble work includes performances with Nomadic Orchestra, The Unity Band, Sean Sanby Collective, Ergonomix Percussion Ensemble, Moonshine – Jazz with a Kick, Rondebosch OBU Big Band and Lutesong Consort.
Uwe Grosser studied classical guitar and Bavarian folk music at the Richard Strauss Conservatory (Munich), historical plucked string performance at Musikhochschule Würzburg and lute building with Robert Lundberg. He himself built the set of lute instruments on which he performs most often. He has played basso continuo in period performances at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Staatstheater Stuttgart and Nuremburg Opera, and has appeared as guest in many German period ensembles, most notably Seven Tears and così facciamo, both of which he co-founded. Over the last 15 years Uwe has forged strong musical ties with local South African ensembles, including Ensemble Refugium, Cape Consort, Cape Town Opera, Cape Town Baroque Orchestra and Dizu Kuduhorn Band. He recorded his solo album, Fantasia, in Stellenbosch in 2003. Together with his wife, Lente Louw, he formed the early music ensemble Lutesong in 2016 and recorded an album, Chiaroscuro, in 2017. They perform as regularly as their schedules allow, in the Western Cae as well as Germany. He also plays and teaches guitars (classical, electric and bass), brass, zither and clarinet, and currently teaches guitar at Rondebosch Boys High and The Music HQ in Cape Town. He has more than 40 years of teaching experience at all levels and enjoys arranging music in various styles to suit the level and taste of each of his students. Uwe has five black belts in Jiu-Jitsu – a sport he has practiced actively for over 40 years.
Vera Vuković began performing early music in Cape Town while a student at the University of Cape Town in the late 1990s. A founder member of the choral and consort group Audivi (est. 1996, directed by Grant Bräsler), she also performed frequently as both vocal soloist and lutenist with Musica Antiqua (directed by the late Richard Oxtoby), specialising in music from the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. While pursuing an undergraduate degree in English and Medieval Latin at UCT, she studied lute with the late Dietrich Wagner in Stellenbosch. More recently, Vera has performed as both singer and instrumentalist with the Cape Consort, and appeared as soloist in various early music concerts in Cape Town, including Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater (alto) with Audivi, Mozart’s Missa brevis in B (soprano) with the St George’s Cathedral Choir, and Bach’s St John’s Passion (lute) with Audivi and the St George’s Cathedral Choir. She has studied singing with Lente Louw, and taken part, for several consecutive years, in the UCT College of Music’s winter term course in Historically Informed Performance, also winning a bursary and cadetship during the 2015 course term. She continues to explore her passion for early music through regular performances with Audivi, and through consort collaborations with early music specialists in Cape Town, such as gambists Colleen Oxtoby, John Frith and Rebekka Sandmeier. Vera completed a MMUS Cum Laude at UCT College of Music, involving the palaeographic, codicological, and philological study of particular eleventh-century Roman manuscripts, and working part-time as a graphic designer and illustrator. She is studying lute and chitarrone with Uwe Grosser, and plays a chitarrone built by him in 2006. Her lute is a 10-course Renaissance instrument built by Jacob van de Geest in 1972.
Willem Bester has performed as vocal soloist in works ranging from Monteverdi and Bach to Rossini and Jenkins for groups that include the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and the University of Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of the early music group The Cape Consort, and with this group, he sang the male title role in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in a Woordfees production directed by Marí Borstlap, with musical direction by Hans Huyssen. In 2016 he sung the role of the evangelist in J. S. Bach’s St John’s Passion as a member of the Cape Soloists Choir, directed by Kåre Hanken. Willem was a voice student of André Howard and Minette du Toit-Pearce, had master classes with Colin Lee, and studied choral direction with Acáma Fick. He received FAK and academic merit bursaries for his BMus studies through UNISA. After being employed in the IT industry for eight years, Willem returned to full-time university studies in 2003, and he holds the degree MSc (Computer Science) cum laude from Stellenbosch University, where he currently lectures computer science, while he is working towards a PhD in the mathematical aspects of formal computer languages.