Salonline 2020-07-19 Howard Bass — Lute & Guitar

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Sunday July 19, 2020

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Howard Bass

Lute & Guitar

“A Little Bit of Pluck”


Heart’s Ease                                                                               Anonymous, c. 1600
Watkin’s Ale

Pavana Bray                                                                             William Byrd, c. 1540 – 1623

Tarleton’s risurrectione                                                          John Dowland, 1563 – 1626
Lord Willoughby’s Welcome Home

Sephardic Medley                                                                   Traditional Sephardic

Sardana Chigiana                                                                    Gaspar Cassadó, 1897 – 1966

Preludio and Barcarole from the “Cavatina” Suite       Alexandre Tansman, 1897 – 1986

Cavatina                                                                                      Stanley Myers, 1930 – 1993

Dos Temas Populares Cubanos:                                          Leo Brouwer, b. 1931
Ojos Brujos and Canción de Cuna

Prelude from BWV 998                                                            J.S. Bach, 1685 – 1750
(Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro)
Dedicated to the memory of James M. Weaver


Howard Bass has been a fixture on the D.C.-area music scene for more than fifty years, initially as a classical guitarist before transitioning to the lute in the mid-1970s. He gave his first major recital at the National Gallery of Art in May 1970, and embarked on a career of performing and teaching that has led to wonderful collaborations in concert and on recordings, as well as travel to most of the U.S. and Europe. Among those are four summers as part of the Santa Fe Opera orchestra, a performance at the White House during the Carter administration, a brief performance for the King and Queen of Spain at the Smithsonian, performances with the Washington Ballet at Wolf Trap and in Chicago, New York, and Houston, and a gig on a cruise from Spain to Florida with the Cunard Lines’ Royal Viking Sun.

By the mid-70s he was immersed in early music, and happily pursuing performance opportunities with prominent early music ensembles and duo recitals with renowned singers and other lutenists, among them counter-tenors James Bowman and Peter Becker, and lutenist Ronn McFarlane at venues including the Phillips Collection, the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum, St. John’s Cathedral in NYC, and London’s Wigmore Hall. He has performed and recorded with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, the Folger Consort, HESPERUS, the Baltimore Consort, and the Choral Arts Society of Washington. His long-term lute song partnership with mezzo-soprano Barbara Hollinshead has led to regular performances on many Washington concert series and on the Gotham Early Music Scene’s midtown concert series in New York City, as well as three CDs featuring English and French lute songs and solos.

In the 1980s he became interested in Sephardic music, which led to the formation of La Rondinella, an early and traditional music ensemble that recorded three albums for Dorian Recordings. Performing Sephardic music with La Rondinella in turn led to a long-lasting association with Sephardic singer/composer and National Heritage fellow Flory Jagoda, with whom he performed widely for more than fifteen years. In 2010 he, Susan Gaeta (with whom he performed frequently with Flory Jagoda), and bowed-string wizard Tina Chancey (of HESPERUS) formed Trio Sefardi, with whom he has performed extensively in the D.C. area and beyond and recorded three CDs. The ensemble has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Folk Festival, the National Gallery of Arts, Piccolo Spoleto, and at synagogues and Jewish community centers from New England to Florida.

In addition to his performing and teaching career, Howard was associated with the Smithsonian Institution for four decades, initially as a musical instrument demonstrator at the National Museum of American History and, beginning in 1981 as a program producer for twenty years at NMAH and then, as manager for Cultural Arts, at the National Museum of the American Indian. He produced hundreds of programs, numerous festivals (including parts of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival), and several recordings for Smithsonian Folkways and the NMAI. He is the proud father of five, grandfather of two, and lives in Arlington, Virginia.


Notable and quotable

Mezzo-soprano Barbara Hollinshead, one of Washington’s finest interpreters of early music, and lute virtuoso Howard Bass have produced a delightful and superbly styled selection of music by John Dowland, Thomas Morley, and other composers of the English Renaissance. Washington Post

Mr Bass played with sensitivity, creating just the right sort of intimate feeling. He played with touching expressiveness.

The London Times

Some of Dowland’s numerous virtuoso lute pieces were played brilliantly by Bass…

Washington Post

Once again I am floored the lute playing of Howard Bass, especially lovely in “Il me suffit” by Claudin de Sermisy. (Review of “I Love Lucette,” a recording of French theatrical chansons by HESPERUS)

Early Music America

The disc (“Loves Lost…and Found: Lute Songs and Solos from Elizabethan England” with Barbara Hollinshead) includes lute solos, magnificently played by Bass.

Early Music America

Hollinshead and Bass are musicians of tremendous skill and commitment, and they delivered this music with passion and care.

Washington Post

The remarkable lutenist Howard Bass brought superb musicianship to everything he played.

Washington Post

Whenever programs of the Choral Arts Society have required lute or guitar I have turned to Howard Bass, always with excellent results.

Norman Scribner, founding Music Director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington

Bass played with unpretentious expertness, delivering rhythms steadily and carefully, and making skillful distinctions between melodic lines and accompaniment figures. Bass also aided his cause with spoken programs notes which were, for a wonder, both informative and brief.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Howard Bass’s accompaniment and his lute solos were performances of high professional quality and beauty.

Newport News Daily Press