Report on 23rd Meeting, 16 September, 2017

Our usual Master of Ceremonies, Rob MacKillop, was unable to make it to this meeting, so Bill Samson and Philip Lord did what was needed. Words by Bill, photography by Philip.

After an initial chat and introductions of new attendees, the playing began.  All of us had pieces to play, which is just how it should be.

First to play was Stuart McLuckey.  Stuart played two pieces by Marco d’Aquila – one called ‘Casa Cossa’ – essentially the same music as that to which Thomas Wyatt’s song ‘Blame not my Lute’ is set.  Next came a Ricercare which was played beautifully with all its subtleties brought out.  Finally Stuart played an arrangement by Linda Sayce of ‘Kensington Court’ from Playford.

New member Oreste De Tomasso brought along his lyra viol.  The instrument was made for him by Alexander Batov and as well as the six stopped strings it has six metal sympathetic strings that pass under the main bridge and the fingerboard.  Lyra Viol employs a style of playing that uses chords and shows off the capabilities of the viol as a solo instrument.

Oreste played two pieces from the Manchester Gamba Book, published in tablature between 1660-1680. He displayed rare sensitivity for the style of music from this period.  First was a setting of ‘Monsieur’s Almaine’ by Richard Sumarte (15?? – after 1630).  Next came a Courante by Stephen Goodhall (fl 1600). Plans are afoot for more viol activity at future SLEGS meetings. 


Ronnie McIntyre attended our last meeting without an instrument.  This time he brought his guitar and played two pieces by Tarrega – the mazurka ‘Adelita’ and ‘Capriccio Arabe’.  Both were played with great skill and gusto.

It was a great pleasure to welcome back our occasional visitor Yasuhiro Nakashima.  He was playing his exquisite van der Waals lute.  He played his own fine arrangements of two untitled Irish pieces.  His excellent technique and feeling for the music shone through in his performance.

Chris Jupp brought along his recently acquired Ramirez guitar, which he played with flesh technique, bringing out an excellent tone quality.  He played Coste’s arrangement of Waltz number 6, by Strauss.  Next came Tarrega’s arrangement of the habanera ‘La Paloma’.  He finished with another, technically demanding Tarrega piece – Waltz in D-major.

Philip Lord played his beautiful Michael Lowe baroque lute.  He started with an arrangement by Wilfred Foxe of an Irish Air by o’Neill, which employs the right hand thumb only!  This was followed by an intriguing ‘Cappricce’ from the manuscript D-Rou. Mus. Saec. XVII.18-52, AKA the Lute Book of Luise Friederike von Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He finished with a performance of ‘I love my love in secret’ from the Balcarres lute book.  Like many of the pieces from this collection it has a fiendishly tricky bass line.

Then David Bateman played his new 5c guitar.  He started with the first movement of a sonata (‘For a Princess’) from the Danish ‘Diesel’ guitar book and then played a Folia from the same book.  It was very pleasant to hear the bright sound of the baroque guitar once again. He also showed a wire-strung charango.

Finally, Bill Samson played his 1988 guitar based loosely on one of the smaller guitars by Manuel Ramirez, from around 1900.  The trebles are of gut and Bill plays with flesh.  He played Tarrega’s ‘Lagrima’ and then ‘Adelita’.  He spoke briefly about the insights a player can get by studying original sources of music.  Many pieces are now more familiar to us as arrangements by relatively modern guitarists and it’s instructive to see how these differ from the composer’s intentions.

Following the performances there was an opportunity for attendees to chat to each other, compare instruments and so on – by no means the least important part of a SLEGS meeting!


Date Of Next Meeting: Saturday 16th September, 2017

The 23rd meeting will take place on Saturday 16th September, 2017.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop: robmackillopATgmailDOTCOM

Report on 22nd meeting, 3rd June, 2017

When the world seems to be tearing itself apart, it is somehow comforting to know that people can still come together to share peaceful interests. Long may it continue. Ours is a small society, arguably a support group, and there is nothing wrong with that. Each of us struggles to play beautiful music as best we can, and in so doing bring a little more beauty and, yes, harmony into the world. Thankfully we are far from being alone.

Bill Samson started with a Show And Tell session, with two new terz guitars he has recently made for his granddaughters. A terz guitar is tuned a minor 3rd higher than standard, with a string length (in this case) of 54cms. They were popular in the 19th century, with Giuliani writing concerti for terz guitar and orchestra.

Rob MacKillop joined Bill for a performance of two duets – the 3rd and 6th Leziones from the Method by Carulli, which were well received. Here is a video the dynamic duo made at Bill’s home a few days earlier:

Bill went on to play a Divertimento and Melodia by Bartolomé Calatayud, who once studied with Francisco Tárrega. Charming repertoire, romantic, though never troubling in any emotional sense. Bill acquitted himself well, as always. I must say the craftsmanship on these two small twin instruments is among Bill’s best, and I’m sure his granddaughters will treasure them.

Chris Jupp played another Samson instrument, an 11c lute, largely strung in gut.  The Kremsmunster MS L82b contains many charming pieces, some of them appearing in Stefan Lundgren’s Baroque Lute Companion, from which Chris chose a Prelude and an Aria in Dm. Both were lovely, and left this reviewer wanting more. Please prepare a small suite of pieces for the next meeting, Chris.

Glo Lo treated us to more Calatayud on her low-tuned, gut-strung Ricardo Sanchis 2A guitar from 1988: a small suite of pieces, Vals, Romanza, Pasodoblillo, and Cancion de Cuna. Glo produces a very pleasing sound with the combination of gut strings and a no-nails technique. Only in the Passodoblo did she struggle to keep on top of the instrument, but considering how long she has been playing, she is doing very well.

Philip Lord played a Paysanne by the Belgian composer, Jacques de St Luc, on his beautiful 13c Michael Lowe lute. I jotted down the words, plaintive and calming. Onwards and upwards for Philip, this was a seemingly nerves-free performance.

Charles Browne gave his SLEGS debut, with a mini recital of challenging works by Weiss, a Prelude in F, and a Prelude and Fugue in Dm, from the edition by Peter Lay of six sonatas. His Martin Bowers 11c lute (ex Robert Spencer) was tuned precisely to 408, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, but the sound was good, strong when it needed to be, or equally delicate. Weiss’s music is always interesting and varied, with block chords of interesting harmony, extended arpeggios and slurred scale runs, there is always much to tune into. While tone production could have been a little less aggressive, and with his chosen tempi daring to run away from him, Charles’ commitment to his performance is to be commended. All in all, a fine debut, and we look forward to hearing more from him at future meetings.

Gordon Ferries drew the performing part of proceedings to a fine conclusion, playing music for archlute by Kapsberger, Toccatas Nos.7 then 6, from the composer’s 1611 edition. As ever with Kapsberger, we were treated to a variety of moods and gestures, with imitative passages, runs in parallel tenths, long sequences of juicy appogiaturas, and spicy chromaticism – all heady stuff, which Gordon played with taste and grace. It’s always good to hear Gordon play, and we all look forward to his next performance.

As ever, much mingling ensued, with instruments being passed around. Nice to see two new faces in the audience, Ronnie Macintyre and Rebecca Laird. Visitors always welcome. Thanks agin to Chris Elmes for use of his beautiful room.

Photos by Rebecca Laird (below) and Bill Samson.



Date of Next Meeting: Saturday 3rd June, 2017

The 22nd meeting will take place on Saturday 3rd June, 2017.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop: robmackillopATgmailDOTCOM

Report of 21st Meeting: 25 February, 2017

A good turnout, with some new faces, which is always good to see. Thanks once more to Chris Elmes for use of his rooms.

After a good chin wag, the music started. [Most photos can be enlarged with a click.]


Rob MacKillop:  Vieux Gaultier: Tombeau de Mesangeau and Carillon, followed by a Robert de Visée Allemende in Dm from the Saizenay MS.

Rob introduced his selection by showing us two books and one lute. The first book was Rob’s own, “Introduction To The Lute – for lute and guitar players“, which is published by Mel Bay. More info HERE. The other book was by Peter Croton, “Performing Baroque Music on the Lute & Theorbo“. More info HERE.


Rob then discussed “The Weiss Lute” from Le Luth Doré, the company set up by Miguel Serdoura to provide Chinese-made student and professional lutes of high quality at good prices. The reaction seemed unanimous, in that the lute sounded excellent, and was very-well made. Rob had strung the lute with gut trebles by Bow Brand, and loaded-nylgut bass fundamentals from Aquila, which also led to enquiries from other players.

The music had some beautiful moments, and we look forward to hearing Rob play more baroque music at future meetings.


Bill Samson played on his self-made replica Torres FE18, which sounded full and rounded. Sor’s beautiful studies (Op35 no 2, Op 60 numbers 4 and 5) were played very sensitively in a memorable performance. Give us an encore next time, Bill!


Stuart McLuckie was up next, with two rather contrasting pieces on his James marriage 8c lute:  Tielman Susato’s “Mille Regrez”, and Carolan’s “Separation of body and soul” – an intriguing title, not quite matched but the composition itself. But Stuart, as ever, gave a good performance, never failing to entertain us with some decent lute playing.

Stuart also entertained us by getting into a fankle with his new strap:



Glo Lo gave her SLEGS debut. Despite a few nerves (not uncommon, even for seasoned performers!) Glo played beautifully and sensitively, two pieces from Fred Noad’s “Solo Guitar Playing” book: Carulli’s Andantino, and a Robert De Visée Sarabande.


Although fairly new to the classical guitar, she enjoys playing without the use of fingernails on her right hand, and on gut treble strings. She also plays at a very low pitch of C#, which sounded really full and beautiful on her Ricardo Sanchis 2A guitar from 1988. After the recitals, Glo was seen playing Bill Samson’s guitar. According to Bill, “It was great hearing her with my Torres playing a Sor study when she thought nobody was listening!” Go Glo!


Chris Jupp   gave his 11c debut, after a few years of performances as a Renaissance-lute player. The Minuet, Chaconne and Aria from the Berlin MS, were performed with style and grace on his 11c Lute by Bill Samson, strung largely in gut by Damian Dlugolecki. It was great to hear Chris tackle the baroque instrument and repertoire. His right-hand placement seemed perfect, close to the bridge, which is the best way to pluck gut strings. So, more please, Chris!


Philip Lord performed on his excellent 13c lute by Michael Lowe, a Folia from the Berlin MS which Chris had just played from. Philip’s performance started a little shakily, but really developed confidence as the variations increased. It was a relatively long piece, with each variation making different demands from the performer, who did a very good job overall.

So, we heard three baroque lutes from three different luthiers, and with three different types of bass strings: gut, loaded-nylgut, and copper-wound nylon silk. Quite an education! Each string gave a different quality and timbre of sound, yet all seemed to sound appropriate for the player and the instrument.


The final performance (another SLEGS debut) was by Alex McCartney, who played Fantasias by Mudarra and Paladin. The sound from his Luke Emmet 6c lute was magnificent, really warm, rounded and loud. Alex is a front-rank player, playing extended fantasias with assurance and apparent ease. It was only just that his applause was also warm, rounded and loud! I was familiar with the Mudarra, but not at all familiar with the fantasias by Lyons-based Paladin. There was one chromatic cadence which really raised this reviewer’s eyebrows, and a slight smile from the performer. I hope Alex goes on to record a Paladin program. We were all delighted to see and hear Alex, and hope that he can make the journey from Glasgow again for future meetings. Alex has an online lute class, which comes highly recommended.

B&W photos by Rob MacKillop, colour photos and photo of Rob MacKillop, by Bill Samson.






Date of Next Meeting: Saturday 25th February, 2017

The 21st meeting will take place on Saturday 25th February, 2017.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop: robmackillopATgmailDOTCOM

Report of 20th Meeting: 19th November, 2016


A decent turnout for a visit by Jelma van Amersfoort (Holland) and Paul Sparks (England) playing duets for late 19th-century Italian mandolin and Spanish 19th-century guitar. This event also brought some new faces to the meeting, and it is hoped we see them return to future meetings.


Rob MacKillop started proceedings, as he often does, this time on a guitar that arrived at his house two days before: An Aria copy of a Fleta classical guitar. The guitar was made in Spain under the José Antonio label, but administered from Japan. The result is a very Spanish-sounding instrument, with a big warm sound. Paul Sparks remarked how the treble reminded him of old Segovia recordings. Rob played a brief set of two short preludes by Ponce.


Next, Stuart McLuckey played What If A Day from the Holmes manuscript, followed by Packington’s Pound. As ever, Stuart played well on his James Marriage 8c lute. It’s always good to hear Stuart play, and great to see his confidence growing with each meeting.


Yasuhiro Nakashima played two pieces on his beautiful new Nico van der Waals 8c lute. He intended to play just one piece, Love Is Careless by Tobias Hume, but gave such a beautiful performance, an encore was demanded: a Fantasia by Luis de Narvaez. Yasuhiro is a shy performer, but easily wins over an audience with his beautiful tone production and intimate style.


Next came the 13c lute of Philip Lord. Philip has lost the nerves battle a few times in the past, but this time played to the end of two pieces, a Gavotte and Double, by Weiss. For his efforts he received a deservedly resounding round of applause. Onwards and upwards, Philip.


Bill Samson started his set with Mr Dowland’s Midnight, played on what used to be a 7c lute belonging to Rob MacKillop, but is now an 8c belonging to its maker, Bill himself. Next we heard another version of What If A Day, this time from the Pickering manuscript, with divisions written by the player. Very interesting, and well executed. Bill prefaced the performance with a reading from the original poem (printed HERE), expressing how much of a dot we are on a dot in infinite space…quite a suitable subject for astronomer Bill.


Chris Jupp borrowed Yasuhiro’s new lute to perform an Allemande and Preamble On A French Courante by Terzi. I confess to not having listened to much Terzi before, but after this performance, I’m keen to hear more. Maybe next time. Well played, sir!


Finally the special guests, Jelma van Amersfoort and Paul Sparks tuned up for a very interesting recital. Jelma was having her second visit, and brought with her an original, deep-bodied Spanish guitar of 1862, by Enrique Recio. It has a big, deep mellow sound, strong enough to be equal partner to the mandolin. Unusually, it has six fan braces.


Paul Sparks is a very-highly respected researcher in mandolin and guitar history – his books are well worth reading, and are still in print. His knowledge of the mandolin seems second to none, and he talked at some length before and after the recital, eliciting many questions from interested members. He played a mandolin by the famous Raffaele Calace.

The Sonata for Mandolin and Guitar by Gian Francesco de Majo, started their set, and can best be described as charming. Not music to challenge the intellect, but certainly music to bring a smile to the face.

Then Jelma presented a Minuet and four variations of increasing difficulty, by Castro. I’d not heard Castro’s music before, and was mightily impressed. Equally impressive was the performer’s technique and musicianship.

Paul introduced us to the composer, Clara Ross, while detailing a little of the history of the female mandolin and guitar bands of 19th and early 20th-century Britain. Her Serenade For Mandolin And Guitar was a delight, and I hope the performers record it soon.

The set concluded with Calace’s Romanza For Mandolin And Guitar. How better to hear this than on a Calace-made mandolin? Paul gave a brilliant performance, showing complete command of the instrument, and although the mandolin took most of the attention, the guitar part was not without interest either. A fitting end to a good recital. Both performers can return anytime, and be assured of a warm reception.


So, another excellent meeting. Thanks go to our visitors, and also to the members who turn up and contribute. It’s gratifying to see that we have reached our twentieth meeting – five years! It wouldn’t happen at all if not for the commitment of its membership, so: MANY THANKS to all those who take part. We have something quite unique here.