LSA 2017 Workshop West Registration

There are lots of exciting changes happening with the LSA Workshop West this year (see complete information about the event below)! It will take place at the University of Victoria, located on lovely Vancouver Island from August 6-12. This year the faculty will include Robert Barto, Elizabeth Kenny, Sylvain Bergeron, lecturer Ray Nurse, lecturer Douglas Alton Smith, luthier Travis Carey, and Phillip Rukavina (Director). The event begins with on-site registration and check-in on Sunday, August 6 and classes run through Friday, August 11. Departure date is Saturday, August 12.  Please note that flights directly to Victoria, BC are comparable in cost to flights to Vancouver, BC. Tuition cost for LSA members is $560.  Room and board for the week is $650.

Lute Society of America Workshop West Aug 6-12, 2017

  • 06 Aug 2017
  • 18:00 (PDT)
  • 12 Aug 2017
  • 09:00 (PDT)
  • University of Victoria, Victoria BC, Canada


(depends on selected options)

Base fee:
  • To get the member registration level, join as a member or renew first, and then return to the LuteFest registration. You can pay for both membership and registration at the same time.
  • Only for Faculty members from previous summer seminars of the LSA.

Registration is closed

There are lots of exciting changes happening with the LSA Workshop West this year! It will take place at the University of Victoria, located on lovely Vancouver Island from August 6-12, 2017. 

The event begins with registration 12:00 (noon) on Sunday, August 6th and concludes with a party on Friday evening, August 10th (those paying room and board get breakfast Sat am). Features concerts, classes, and special performance projects provided by a world-class group of musicians. 

This year the faculty will include Robert Barto, Elizabeth Kenny, Ray Nurse, Sylvain Bergeron, Travis Carey (lute building), and Phillip Rukavina (Director).

LSA Workshop West 2017 Faculty

Robert Barto

Sylvain Bergeron 

Travis Carey

Robert Barto graduated from the University of California, San Diego, having specialised in historical lute performance. A Fulbright scholarship brought him to Europe, 
where he continued his studies with Michael Schaeffer in Cologne and Eugen Dombois in Basle.

In 1984, he was awarded first prize at the International Lute Competition in Toronto, as well as top prize in a competition of all the instrumental soloists at the Musica 
Antiqua Competition in Bruges, Belgium.

Robert Barto has performed throughout Europe and North America, including solo recitals in the Festival of Flanders, London's Purcell Room, the Utrecht Festival and 
the "Music Before 1800" event in New York City. In 2000 he gave solo performances at the Lufthansa Baroque Festival in London, Bavarian Radio's Bach Night in Munich 
and presented a special tribute to Silvius Leopold Weiss for the city of Dresden.

Robert Barto's five volumes of baroque lute sonatas by Silvius Leopold Weiss and 2 CDs of the complete solo works of Joachim Bernhard Hagen have met with great enthusiasm from critics and the public alike.

Described as “a supremely refined, elegant, cerebral musician” (Ottawa Citizen), Sylvain Bergeron is a master of the lute and plucked strings family of instruments including theorbo, archlute and baroque guitar. He is in high demand on the North American music scene as a soloist and continuo player. Wholenote Magazine declared, “Sylvain Bergeron is a brilliant musician who weaves an unforgettable aural tapestry.” Bergeron is the co-founder and co- artistic director of La Nef and has been at the helm of many of the Montréal-based ensemble’s award-winning presentations, including Joan the Mad, Perceval, and Montségur.

A native of Québec, Sylvain Bergeron gives almost 100 concerts each season, playing with such high profile companies and ensembles as Les Violons du Roy, the Canadian Opera Company, and Apollo’s Fire. He has also played with such internationally renowned early music icons as Dame Emma Kirkby, James Bowman, and Jordi Savall.

He teaches lute, baroque guitar, theorbo and continuo at McGill University and the University of Montréal.  

I first came to the lute and its music in the early 1990s. I knew, from the start, that I would build my own instrument. People often ask how I got into lute making, and it's about as simple as that. I learned that the lute existed, and pretty much knew right away that I'd build one.

In the summer of 2002 I traveled to Vancouver and introduced myself to master lute maker Grant Tomlinson in his workshop. Grant was very encouraging, and very clear in his advice: that to build well, to make fine instruments for knowledgeable and discriminating players, one would need to study closely the work of the old master makers and apply the principles of historical construction. This was exactly what I had hoped to hear. I asked Grant if he would help me pursue the goal of building fine, historically informed instruments, and he said that he would. For me, the craft and profession of lute making had begun. 

In 2009 I received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, which allowed me to move to Vancouver and work alongside Grant in his workshop for a full year.  Every piece of work I did had to pass Grant's close inspection, and meet his high standard of craft. Each instrument I built or helped to build during that year bore the workshop label of Grant Tomlinson, and in accordance with tradition - the tradition of the old Lute Makers' Guild - I was allowed to sign my initials on that label. It was an honour to do it.

Elizabeth Kenny

Ray Nurse (lecturer)

Phillip Rukavina

Elizabeth Kenny is one of Europe’s leading lute players. Her playing has been described as “incandescent” (Music and Vision), “radical” (The Independent on Sunday) and “indecently beautiful” (Toronto Post). In twenty years of touring she has played with many of the world’s best period instrument groups and experienced many different approaches to music making. She played with Les Arts Florissants 1992-2007 and with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment  Her research interests have led to critically acclaimed recordings of Lawes, Purcell and Dowland, and to the formation of her ensemble Theatre of the Ayre . She regularly collaborates with singers such as Robin Blaze, Ian Bostridge and Nicholas Mulroy, and she has a great fondness for the viol consort repertory. 

As a soloist she is committed to a diverse range of repertoire, from the ML Lutebook (a much-praised CD released on Hyperion records)to new music for lute and theorbo: she has premiered works by James MacMillan and Benjamin Oliver. 

Liz Kenny is a Professor of Musical Performance at the University of Southampton, and professor of Lute at the Royal Academy of Music. She guest-edited a Dowland themed issue of Early Music, bringing performers and scholars together in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the composer’s birth, in 2013. She was an artistic advisor to the York Early Music Festival from 2011 to 2014.

A versatile performing musician, instrument maker and researcher in historical music, Ray Nurse was a founding member of Early Music Vancouver, The New World Consort, the Vancouver Chamber Choir and Pacific Baroque Orchestra.  He has performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia and appeared on many broadcasts and recordings.  His research has led him to museums and libraries around the world, and he is in constant demand as a teacher at workshops.

Ray originally studied voice and musicology at the Department of Music at the University of British Columbia.  In 1972 he won the Vancouver Met auditions, subsequently performing as soloist and chorus member with the Vancouver Opera. 

During the 1970s he took a break to pursue other interests, studying lute performance with Dianna Poulton in London and Eugen Dombois in Basel, and lute-making with Harwood and Isaacs in Ely, Cambridgeshire.  In 2001 he founded La Cetra, an ensemble that specializes in seventeenth century music.  He coordinated notable productions of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and the 1610 Vespers for Festival Vancouver 2000, and in 2002 was appointed as Artistic Director of the Vancouver Early Opera Project. He is professionally active as a lutenist, accompanist, continuo player and singer, and continues to build instruments for selected customers.

Phillip Rukavina performs nationally and internationally as a lute and vihuela soloist, ensemble performer, and as a continuo lutenist. He has appeared at many early music festivals including the Utrecht Early Music Festival (2013) and the Boston Early Music Festival (2015).  Phillip is a founding member of the Venere Lute Quartet and has performed with many prominent ensembles and individuals, including the Newberry Consort, the Rose Ensemble, the Texas Early Music Project, sopranos Dame Emma Kirkby and Ellen Hargis, and many others. 

Phillip has served on the faculty of the Lute Society of America's Summer Seminars  and the Lute Program at the Amherst Early Music Festival. Phillip studied lute with Hopkinson Smith at the Academie Musical in Villecroze, France and in Basel, Switzerland.  

In addition to his many ensemble recordings, Phillip has three highly acclaimed solo recordings to his credit, including  his most recent Studio395 release Italian Lute Music 1508-1517 (2015).

Douglas Alton Smith (lecturer)

Douglas Alton Smith received his Ph.D. in music from Stanford University in 1977 with a dissertation on music of the Baroque lutenist Silvius Leopold Weiss. From 1997 to 2006 he served as Editor of the Journal of the Lute Society of America, and is currently a Consulting Editor of JLSA. Smith is preparing multiple memorial issues to honor the memory of the late Patrick O'Brien. Since 1973 he has published many academic studies on the lute and its music, including the article “Lute” in The New Harvard Dictionary of Music.

2017 Course List

The following list is in process and is subject to change.  Please check back here for updates.

Course Title:


The Joy of German Tab
(German tab for absolute beginners)

The ability to read German tablature opens up a fascinating world of thousands of pieces to the modern lutenist, from the simplest Bauerntanz to the most complex intabulations and fantasies. In this class we'll combine a very general overview of the 16th century German repertoire with learning the basics of reading German tab. We'll use easy exercises and a collection of the simplest pieces to get everybody started reading this notation during the week. Easy ensemble pieces arranged in single line German tab will be offered for extra practice and daily entertainment. 

Robert Barto

Baroque Lute Master Class

A master class format focusing on baroque lute but open to all styles and instruments.

Robert Barto

Lute Building:

We’ll cover all the major topics and skills involved in building a lute, from creating a working drawing and making a mold, to bending ribs and carving a rose.  Special emphasis in the class will be given to working with local (North American) woods. There will be plenty of opportunity for hands-on work, for those who want to practice their skills, and there will be plenty of chances to ask your most pressing questions about lute making. The class is open to people of all levels of experience and skill—all that’s required are an inquiring mind and a love of lutes! For further updates on the course, please visit:  If you have any questions, please email at:

Travis Carey, luthier

"Taming the Beast"

Getting around a theorbo in order to connect solo and continuo playing.   Lute song accompaniment: understanding the Ways of the Singer.  This class will focus on the different ways of thinking that make playing with other people especially singers, easier and more pleasurable.  Singers are welcome to join so we can explore the interaction of player and singer.

Elizabeth Kenny

Beyond the Notes

Improvisation from counterpoint to chord patterns.  This class is aimed at renaissance players as well as players of other kinds of lute .  We will look at the overlap between finding and memorising chord patters, and finding ways to connect them with melodies that are idiomatic to each instrument.  By the end of the week we will have created a number of pieces for the group to play together.

Elizabeth Kenny

Playing the Lute with Attitude

An overview of approaches to the lute that offer higher levels of security, even to the point of giving players a sense of control and even attitude!.  These include general posture, right and left hand positions and techniques, sound production, amongst others.

Sylvain Bergeron

How to Make the Lute Sing - Without a Singer!

Ever notice that many Renaissance lute prints offer instructions on how to play the lute? Ever notice they are often called "Rules for Singing?"  The relationship between lute playing and singing during the Renaissance is closer than close. Sylvain takes us to the core of contemporary thinking on the interpretation of Renaissance lute music; from breathing to phrasing and through articulation, expression and ornamentation.

Sylvain Bergeron


Wednesday August 9, 12:30 - 1:30 pm. Introduction to Intabulation

Friday August 11, 12:30 - 1:30 pm.  - Intabulating for Lute Ensemble

Ray Nurse

Before the Basics: - Lute Class for the Very Beginner

This course is intended for those who have had little or no experience playing the lute but would like to learn. Rukavina will discuss the various lute types and techniques for playing them, describe various types of tablatures, and discuss the basic musical skills necessary to play the lute. With a hands-on approach, he will walk through the basics in the use of basic thumb-under technique. As much as is possible, lutes will be made available to class participants.

Phillip Rukavina


Tuesday August 8, 12:30 - 1:30 pm.  The pedagogical and therapeutic principles and techniques of Patrick O'Brien

Pat O'Brien taught guitar and lute at his New York studio and annually at LSA seminars since 1976, but he published almost nothing about his pedagogy so his method is unfortunately little known except to his former students.Yet he was one of the most extraordinary teachers in the history of the lute and guitar, since he based his pedagogy on irrefutable anatomical facts and their implications that he discovered while seeking a cure for his own tendinitis as a young man. His techniques and exercises not only cure musician hand injury but also promote maximum performance facility in those of us who are not injured. Dr. Douglas Alton Smith's lecture will summarize the main insights from more than a dozen articles by and about Patrick O'Brien that he has collected and will publish in JLSA. They cover the gamut of Pat's teaching and therapeutic principles for left and right hand, including how to practice. Patrick himself will speak to us from historic films in Dr. Smith's collection of O'Brien material.

Douglas Alton Smith

The content of this website is ©2017 by the Lute Society of America, Inc..
The Lute Society of America is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software