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Saturday morning quotes 7.38: News

March 14, 2020

With apologies to those readers who are on our email newsletter list and have already seen our updates, we are taking a moment to give you our readers a status report on Mignarda. Those of you who are regular visitors to Unquiet Thoughts will know that, as usual, we have a lot of irons in the fire.  But we are particularly gratified that our dedication, our hard work and our ability to get to the heart of early music have been successful far beyond the expectations of independent exponents of a seriously small niche market.

Insights: Who’s Listening?

In the second decade of the 21st century, it’s hardly surprising that our music has found its way across the globe.  Our YouTube channel has over 5,000 subscribers from 122 countries and, despite our complete lack of promotion and infrequent posting, our videos have had an extraordinary number of views. We are pleased to report that as of Saturday 14 March 2020, Donna’s video of Tantum ergo sacramentum has had more than two million views.  People seem to like what they hear because they have discovered our music on their own rather than having been led to it through slick promotion.  You know, the old-fashioned authentic way.

Gratifying as this may be, what we find really surprising – and what gives us hope – is this:

60.5% of our viewers are under 45 years of age
Mignarda audience by age

Despite conventional wisdom with respect to the greying of early music audiences (and perhaps due to our distinct lack of hype), younger audiences are discovering that our music speaks to them.

A few more numbers:

– We have over 500 Spotify followers

47,205 Bandcamp plays

– A steady monthly average of 15,000 streams for a single track: our recording of Duo Seraphim

Beyond streams & downloads…

We have received multiple requests to license our music from choreographers for classical and modern ballet companies, for plays in Germany, for museum exhibits, in films, documentaries and to provide historical authority for lecture-presentations.  We received a request to quote from the CD liner notes for our Pilgrimes Solace recording for concert program notes by the New York Virtuoso Singers for a joint concert with Parthenia, a consort of viols.

We were honored when respected Dowland scholar Anthony Rooley requested (and obtained) permission to use our recording of music from Pilgrimes Solace as an interpretive example for teaching his course at Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland.  And more recently Mignarda’s 2013 release of Dowland’s A Pilgrimes Solace was selected as a reference recording in the new book by K. Dawn Grapes, John Dowland: A Research and Information Guide, Routledge Music Bibliographies, New York, 2019.  The book is a much needed guide to currently available music editions and literature focused on the most influential historical lutenist composer, John Dowland, and includes a numbered catalog of works, a discography, an annotated bibliography of secondary sources, all thoroughly indexed.

And just this week, a track from our 2010 CD Harmonia Caelestis was featured on the nationally syndicated weekly radio program HarmoniaListen here.

Recordings in the works

Mater Dolorosa
We are nearly ready to release our recording of music from circa 1500 featuring the setting of Stabat Mater dolorosa by Josquin des Prez.  Josquin’s sublime setting of the Stabat Mater was quite popular well into the 16th century, and our performance for solo voice and lute is edited from an historical version published by Pierre Phalese in 1552, with the addition of a bowed viol on the important tenor line. The recording will also feature a circa 1500 two-part a cappella setting of the Stabat Mater dolorosa text as found in Amiens, Bibliothèque Centrale  modern edition by Danish musicologist Peter Woetmann Christoffersen.  As far as we know, our recording is the first performance of this setting in 500 years.

Unquiet Thoughts: English ayres for voice and lute
We are also hard at work recording a special collection of English lute songs by Dowland and his contemporaries, and hope to make it available by the end of 2020.

New and Forthcoming from Mignarda Editions

The Mignarda Songbook, Volume One: English Ayres (published December 2019)
Our 14th music edition and the first in a series of selections from the Mignarda songbook, in response to requests from musicians who seek to emulate Mignarda’s practice of performing lute songs in a manner that communicates the texts to best advantage. This first volume contains 43 English ayres and lute solos, both familiar and rare, and all are among our favorite songs. We are pleased to share our unique repertory with professional and amateur musicians in the hope that our approach to lute songs will thrive through informed and engaging performance.

John Dowland: Complete ayres for solo voice and lute (coming April 2020)
We are pleased to announce the April 2020 release of a brand new performing edition of the complete lute songs of John Dowland.  Working in collaboration with long-time specialist in the interpretation of Dowland songs, David Hill, the new edition will feature a lucid paraphrase of all texts as well as in-depth interpretive notes on the poetry for each song.

The new edition will be available in three formats: 1) voice and lute as in the original publications, 2) voice with lute accompaniments in newly transcribed standard notation, and 3) voice with both lute tablature and parallel transcription in standard notation.  An important feature of the new edition is the use of the first 1597 print of Dowland’s First Booke, with Dowland’s original lute parts finally restored as he intended. With attention to detail, accuracy and legibility, this new edition will fill the need for singers and lutenists wishing to explore the most evocative historical repertory for voice and lute.

Independence is paying off

When we first formed Mignarda, we were offered an opportunity to sign with the Naxos label but, after careful consideration, we decided that we had the acumen and skills to form our own independent recording label that would give us complete artistic control over both repertory and product. Naxos Music Online is now one of many distributors which offer our music, but Mignarda remains an independent label.

Likewise, we had the chance to publish our music editions through a well-known music publisher but instead forged our own publishing arm and created Mignarda Editions.

Since then…

– We’ve produced 12 CDs, with physical and digital distribution worldwide.  Our downloads and streams are now numbering in the millions.
– We’ve published 14 music editions, which are now in the hands of lutenists and librarians from New Zealand to the Netherlands.
We are pleased to report that what seemed like a risky strategy all those years ago has paid off, and our music continues to find its way across the globe.

We want to thank you, our friends, listeners and colleagues, for helping us keep historical music alive and giving us the opportunity to touch so many lives with music that matters.

  1. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing all of this, and for your beautiful music. I’m excited to learn about your new books coming out this year ~ WB

  2. Chlovena Byrd permalink

    It gives my heart great joy to hear of your success in following the dictates of your own soul as to how you present and share your music!! Bill and Nancy would be proud as well!! GO MIGNARDA!!

    • Thanks, Chlovena. I hope you are well and it’s great to hear from you, particularly with such kind words. We think of Bill and Nancy often – Donna actually had a chance to meet them both, with mutual approval and appreciation all round. We had recently recorded our first CD and Nancy was asking Bill to play it often during those trying times.

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