All about lutes

BIG RAPIDS — The sweet sound of lute-playing filled the Artworks Chemical Bank Lower Gallery on Monday, as enthusiasts gathered for a time of fun and learning.

Lute Day, presented by Big Rapids Lute Festival, was spent by exchanging ideas, techniques and tablature from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods in the morning, rehearsal in the afternoon, topped off with a performance for the public at 5 p.m.

George Arndt plays the lute dressed in a handmade Medieval outfit. (Pioneer photo/Shanna Avery)

The lute, a pear-shaped wooden instrument, was brought to Europe by generations of invaders and crusaders. It was the principle instrument in use between 1100 and 1700.

Two of the lutes on Monday were handmade, one created by Jerry Wray from a tree he planted when he was 5 years old.

Steve Palmer tunes a lute, which is tuned like a guitar. (Pioneer photo/Shanna Avery)

“The lute preceded the guitar by hundreds of years,” said George Arndt, instructor for the workshop. “It is very special to have this workshop. We are very happy Artworks lets us play here.”

Arndt, along with John Hohman and Bob Bass, play their lutes in different parts of the state and even travel out of state at times, to attend music events. Hohman designed Medieval-style tunics and caps for the group to wear.

A wide variety of lutes were displayed during Lute Day. (Pioneer photo/Shanna Avery)

“We go to Medieval festivals looking like a deck of cards,” Arndt joked.


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