Modern-day bard, singers to perform Elizabethan recital Tuesday

Friday, November 4, 2005
Dr. Jeff Noonan

Dr. Jeff Noonan is well known in Cape Girardeau and throughout the region as a master of a rare instrument -- the lute. It's an instrument he's been playing since 1977, one typically associated with the bards of the Middle Ages.

His playing commonly takes him to St. Louis, Kansas City and other places to perform on his instrument of choice.

"The thing is I'm the only person who plays the lute professionally within a 200- or 300-mile radius of St. Louis," Noonan said. "When they need a lute player, I get the call."

And Noonan doesn't forget his home base of Cape Girardeau, playing lute recitals here between teaching classical guitar and music history at Southeast Missouri State University.

When Noonan performs for an audience Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Old St. Vincent's, he'll be joined by two special guests from the country typically associated with the lute, Great Britain (the lute actually originated in Persia).

British performers and scholars Sasha Johnson Manning and Holly Marland, both based in Manchester, England, will add their voices to Noonan's lute Tuesday. Both are regular performers on BBC radio and have extensively toured Europe, but the concert here will only be their second in America performing a lute repertoire.

Together with Noonan the two will perform songs written for lute from the Elizabethan era in England, a time when Shakespeare walked the earth. Some of the songs to be performed, said Noonan, have even appeared in Shakespeare's work.

"The first thing they're going to hear is two really good singers," Noonan said of his British comrades. Noonan has performed with the duo before, so they are accustomed to each other musically.

The songs come from composers like John Dowland, Thomas Morely and Thomas Campian, including some instrumental pieces for lute and recorder. Some are dance songs, some are love songs, but all are from a distant past, played with instruments mostly forgotten in the modern day.

The British duo will also hold a master class, open to the public, at noon on Wednesday in Brandt Hall on the university campus, and on Thursday will perform one of Manning's original compositions at the University Choir and Cantus Choralis concert.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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