About Ronn McFarlane
Lutenist Ronn McFarlane is a pioneering figure in lute performance in North America, bringing the instrument to new audiences, teaching younger players, and collaborating with a variety of singers and instrumentalists. He has also composed music of his own and formed two influential ensembles, the Baltimore Consort and Ayreheart.
McFarlane was born in West Virginia in 1953 but grew up in Maryland. First attracted to music by the instrumental Wipeout by The Surfaris, he bought a $16 guitar and began practicing. McFarlane studied classical guitar at Shenandoah University in Virginia, playing in blues and rock bands on the side. He moved on to the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where he studied with Paul O'Dette, Roger Harmon, and Pat O'Brien. In 1978, he switched to the lute full-time, giving up his other musical activities. Soon after that, he was touring and had formed the Baltimore Consort, one of the few Renaissance lute-headed ensembles active in the U.S. at the time. From 1984 to 1995, McFarlane taught lute at the Peabody Conservatory. He published two collections of lute music: Scottish Lute (1998) and Highland King: The Scottish Lute (2003). In keeping with the traditions of the Scots lutenists, McFarlane began composing music of his own early in the 21st century. He also formed a second ensemble, Ayreheart, with which he has performed and recorded. That group, which he styles a band, is oriented toward contemporary progressive folk music. McFarlane has collaborated with various singers, including soprano Julianne Baird and tenor Frederick Urrey.
With a catalog of some 20 solo recordings, plus a similar total with the Baltimore Consort and Ayreheart, McFarlane has been especially visible as a recording artist. Almost all his recordings, including those with the Baltimore Consort and Ayreheart, have appeared on the Dorian label or its successor, Sono Luminus. In 2020, McFarlane and viola da gamba player Carolyn Anderson Surrick released the album Fermi's Paradox. ~ James Manheim