Ronn McFarlane & Carolyn Surrick Release New Album And So Flows the River - First Single Out Today
Ronn McFarlane & Carolyn Surrick Release New Album
And So Flows the River
First Single Out Today: W. Lee’s Reel by Ronn McFarlane
Release Date: May 19, 2023
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With their newest album And So Flows the River, to be released on May 19, 2023, Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick have taken the lute and viola da gamba away from the realm of the repertoire that one might expect from these ancient instruments, and moved into pure music making. The first single, McFarlane’s W. Lee’s Reel, is out today. Listen here.
Surrick is well-known for her fifteen recordings with the group she founded in 1998, Ensemble Galilei. McFarlane, nominated for a GRAMMY in 2009, is the founder of Ayreheart and a founding member of the Baltimore Consort. This is the duo’s third album together, following their 2021 holiday album A Star in the East and their first album together, 2020’s Fermi’s Paradox, created and recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic when both performers’ usually busy concert schedules were canceled.
On all three albums, Surrick and McFarlane weave a tapestry of music, seamlessly held together by the timelessness of their instruments and their extraordinary musicianship. The eighteen tracks on And So Flows the River range from John Dowland’s Lachrymae from 1604 and Diego Ortiz’s Recercada Primera and Segunda from the 1550s to J.S. Bach’s Sinfonia from Cantata 29 from 1731; from Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies from 1888 to traditional songs including Mrs. Judge’s Jig, Miss Noble, The Water is Wide, and Shenandoah; and from the hymn Beach Spring to recently composed originals by both McFarlane (W. Lee’s Reel, Where the Mountains Meet the Sky, Clear Creek) and Surrick (Greenmount Avenue, Liane’s Ocean). McFarlane and Surrick are joined by Yousif Sheronick, whose masterful and varied percussion enhances this wildly beautiful sonic landscape – from Tar to Dumbek, from Riq to Udu.
Ronn McFarlane’s beautiful and crystalline tone on the lute is perfectly served by his original Clear Creek, which could have been heard on the front porch of his grandparent’s house in West Virginia. Where Mountains Meet the Sky creates a seemingly effortless, graceful, vision of the movement of air, wind, and clouds passing over mountain tops in the west. While that tune expresses the fluid nature of time, W. Lee’s Reel, a tribute to Ronn’s father, whose adventurous life took him from West Virginia to World War II to Costa Rica and then to Maryland, owns a joyous, driving, rhythmic energy that is almost impossible to resist.
At the other end of the spectrum, Surrick’s sonic density is matched by huge sound and the elongation of time that pours through Liane’s Ocean, written when Surrick’s daughter was young. Of it she writes, “Liane’s song lives in my memory, describing a place where time does not exist, with silence saying more than music ever can.” In Greenmount Avenue, Surrick’s tribute to the beauty and darkness on the streets of Baltimore, the gamba wails and cries, and with an unexpected and unlikely resolution, leads to Over the Rainbow, which in this context seems more prayer than ballad.
With McFarlane’s brilliant arrangement of the Sinfonia from Bach’s Cantata 29 for lute and viola da gamba, he manages to change the cellular structure of what we think music can do, by bringing boundless joy and undeniable virtuosity. As the last notes of the Sinfonia ring out, the gamba lays stones on the ground, the earth upon which the lute begins I Wonder as I Wander, and just when you think you know something about that tune which is usually reserved for Christmas, the gamba sings her beautiful and inevitable song, and then they return.
Carolyn Surrick writes of this album in her poetic liner notes, “We are the sum of our experiences. Our lives moving like water, from the creeks in West Virginia to the streets of Baltimore. Music is our language, motion our friend, and our instruments, home. We chose this music with intention, and so flows the river.”
About Ronn McFarlane: Ronn McFarlane’s critically acclaimed recordings and performances have brought the lute into today’s musical mainstream. He has composed new music for the lute, building on the tradition of the lutenist/composers of past centuries. His original compositions are the focus of his solo album, Indigo Road, which received a GRAMMY Award Nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album of 2009.
Born in West Virginia, McFarlane grew up in Maryland. At thirteen, upon hearing “Wipeout” by the Surfaris, he fell madly in love with music and taught himself to play on a “cranky sixteen-dollar steel string guitar.” He kept at it, playing blues and rock music on the electric guitar while studying classical guitar. He graduated with honors from Shenandoah Conservatory and continued guitar studies at Peabody Conservatory before turning his full attention and energy to the lute in 1978.
Since taking up the lute, McFarlane has made his mark in music as the founder of Ayreheart, a founding member of the Baltimore Consort, touring 49 of the 50 United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Netherlands, Germany and Austria, and as a guest artist with Apollo’s Fire, The Bach Sinfonia, The Catacoustic Consort, The Folger Consort, Houston Grand Opera, The Oregon Symphony, The Portland Baroque Orchestra, and The Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra.
McFarlane was a faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory from 1984 to 1995, teaching lute and lute-related subjects. In 1996, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music from Shenandoah Conservatory for his achievements in bringing the lute and its music to the world. He has over 40 recordings on the Dorian/Sono Luminus label, including solo albums, lute duets, flute and lute duets, viola da gamba and lute, lute songs, the complete lute music of Vivaldi, a collection of Elizabethan lute music and poetry, and recordings with Ayreheart and the Baltimore Consort.
About Carolyn Surrick: Musician, composer, writer, and producer, Carolyn Surrick has been hailed as one of the most prolific and innovative artists in her field. She has performed in concert halls, churches, clubs, listening rooms, hospitals, bars,, on front porches, in libraries, pre-schools, and every other kind of school, on a ranch in Montana, and in the middle of a field in Cora, Wyoming. Her original compositions are in the film score for Letters from the Big Man and she was an on-screen musician in The Pelican Brief. She can be heard on numerous recordings, some of which she produced, and she has recorded and performed with many, many, extraordinary musicians from the traditional music world and the early music world.
Surrick pioneered multi-disciplinary projects starting in 2003 with Ensemble Galilei’s A Universe of Dreams, working with the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute. Her institutional collaborators have included NPR, The National Geographic Society, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her beloved partners include the late and brilliant NPR journalists Neal Conan and Anne Garrels, and she has had the great, good fortune of working with actors Kimiko Gelman, Nicholas Hormann, Lily Knight, Adrian LaTourelle, Rob Nagle, and Bill Pullman, directors Steve Robman and Casey Stangl, producers Charlie Pilzer, Erica Brenner, Dan Merceruio and executive producer, Lindsey R. Nelson. Surrick’s poetry was the inspiration for Ensemble Galilei’s Between War and Here which premiered in 2018, and was transformative for audiences across this country. She is currently working on Front Row Seat, based on her most recent book, which chronicles life in a small church in Baltimore during the first year of the pandemic – another collaboration with actors Lily Knight and Nicholas Hormann, director Steve Robman, and Ronn McFarlane.
Every project, album, and performance has been meaningful, but the seven years of Fridays that Surrick spent working with wounded warriors and their families holds a special place in her heart, and those experiences expanded her perspective on the role that music can play in affecting change in the world.
She received a B.A in music from U.C.S.C and an M.A. in musicology from George Washington University. She founded Ensemble Galilei in 1990, Trio Galilei in 2008, and has been recording and performing with Ronn McFarlane since 2020. She has toured across 46 states and 4 countries, written four books, built three houses, and has a loom in her basement which has recently been dusted off and is the source of significant and meaningful quiet creativity.
And So Flows the River
Ronn McFarlane, lute & Carolyn Surrick, viola da gamba
Release date: May 19, 2023
Flower Pot Productions | Catalog No. 2023-01
W. Lee’s Reel - Ronn McFarlane [3:06]
Gymnopédie 1 - Erik Satie [3:09]
Gymnopédie 2 - Erik Satie [2:24]
Sinfonia from Cantata 29 - J.S.Bach [4:58]
I Wonder as I Wander - John Jacob Niles [3:58]
Mrs. Judge’s Jig - Turlough O’Carolan / Hornpipe - Henry Purcell [2:10]
Gymnopédie 3 - Erik Satie [2:-08]
Greenmount Avenue - Carolyn Surrick [3:55]
Over the Rainbow - H. Arlen/E.Y.Harburg [3:50]
Where Mountains Meet the Sky - Ronn McFarlane [4:30]
Lachrymae - John Dowland [4:58]
Liane’s Ocean - Carolyn Surrick [4:45]
Beach Spring - attr. Benjamin Franklin White [1:07]
Miss Noble - Turlough O’Carolan [1:37]
Clear Creek - Ronn McFarlane [2:16]
Recercada Primera - Diego Ortiz [2:37]
Recercada Segunda - Diego Ortiz [1:40]
The Water is Wide / Shenandoah - Traditional [3:02]
Ronn McFarlane, lute Carolyn Surrick, viola da gamba Yousif Sheronick, percussion All arrangements by Ronn McFarlane & Carolyn Surrick
Engineer: Brian Doser Producer: Dan Merceruio Mixing and Mastering: Charlie Pilzer Executive Producer: Lindsey R. Nelson
Recorded at Tonal Park, Takoma Park, MD, Oct. 17-21, 2022 Mixed and Mastered at Tonal Park, Takoma Park, MD, Feb. 20-22, 2023 Flowerpot Productions
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