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Saturday morning quotes 7.17: XV

October 27, 2018

OvidQuindecim annos on October 25th 2003, Duo Mignarda performed their first concert at the Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus in Cleveland, Ohio.  The program was based around music from the court of the last of the Valois monarchs, Henri III, featuring the music of Polish lutenist Jakob Reys (Jacques Polonois), and French airs from the same period by Pierre Guédron, Antoine Boësset, and Jean Baptiste Besard—the anthologizing physician best known today for his enormous output of error-ridden music for lute solo, ensemble, and lute and voice.

The concert was originally meant to feature a program of lute duets with a concentration on music from Poland, but half of the duet got cold feet at the last minute and I was forced to punt, thus began Donna’s career as a vocal soloist. From that first concert, we realized that our symbiotic approach to music was something rare—the chance of two performers specializing in a niche repertory to find such an empathetic connection is one in a million. From that moment, we decided the responsible thing to do was to continue our exploration of early music and to dedicate our lives to sharing the magic of this vast treasure trove of forgotten historical songs with listeners sorely in need of a dose of quiet elegance.

Since that time, we have produced eleven CDs and have published a dozen music editions and countless articles and reviews. We have traveled tens of thousands of miles to share this music with audiences across the U.S. through concerts, lecture/recitals, workshops and master classes. We have performed in radio and television studios, on YouTube, and in recital halls, art galleries, libraries, mansions, museums, school rooms, conference rooms, and living rooms. We have taught and coached young musicians at all levels, ranging from rural elementary schools in upstate NY to graduate seminars at Cornell University, and have offered our sacred music programs in tiny country churches and in majestic Basilicas. We have shared our discoveries with attendees at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the National Music Museum in South Dakota, and the International Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Binghamton, NY.

Through it all, we have made it a particular point to perform for diverse audiences with no previous exposure to early music, performing in places like the Center for the Arts at Homer, NY, which usually features acts like Janis Ian or more current pop music. 21st century technology has made it possible for us to reach listeners across the globe: every week, we hear from listeners from the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Japan, South American countries and even the U.S. Donna’s video recording of Tantum Ergo Sacramentum topped a million views this year, and continues to accrue thousands of hits every week.

We have truly built our audiences one person at a time, and we are humbled by the number of comments we receive from listeners that describe how our music touches their hearts and souls.  We quote just a few of our favorites:

“Wow. Many thanks for the lovely performance and the video–very appropriate and atmospheric. And thank David Hill for flattering an old amateur. A music video! We’re Rock Gods! I’ll have to spread this around.”
Edward Doughtie

“Une superbe interprétation et quelle voix !!!!! Vous jouez superbement bien du luth et cette musique nous emporte dans un voyage extroardinaire ! Vraiment je vous dis bravo!”
– Enola Babin

“I really have to say [Sfumato] is stunning . The Interplay of the lute and voice was wonderful and the singing was timeless in its beauty. Why aren’t you famous yet?”
Mel Wong

“Your concert was revelatory in several ways, especially as it challenged our ears and hearts to enter a realm difficult to access these days, where subtlety and elegance trump flash and flamboyance, and content, rather than effect, is primary.”
– Rev. Cullie Mowers

“Congratulations on a really exquisite rendering of your selection from ‘Pilgrimes Solace‘! The lovely open quality of Donna’s voice I find really endearing, and so suitable for giving us the ‘inner passion’ of these marvellous texts. I would love a copy of the CD, if you can manage that..”
Anthony Rooley

“Thanks for your way to make music: it’s full of good taste, that is something rare in this strange world of the “early music”.  And thanks to the singer, for her beautiful voice and elegance.”
Marco Beasley

“I always enjoy reading your Saturday Quotes and I believe that you and Donna form the pre-eminent lute song duo of our time. Please keep up the good work!”
– William Samson

With fifteen years’ worth of music, memories and friendships cultivated one at a time, we could spend hours and yards of column space reminiscing about the good times and the bumps in the road. But we prefer to look ahead, and we are full of ideas for new projects.  And you’ll likely be the first to hear of them here on Unquiet Thoughts.

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