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Thursday, 23 April 2015, 1:00PM
St. Sepulchre Without Newgate

The Guitar and 'the Fair Sex'

Professor Christopher Page FBA, Grace Davidson, Ulrich Wedemeier

By the 1830s, caricaturists had begun to show the fashionable guitarist as a man’s instrument, but musical ability at the amateur level with guitar, harp or pianoforte was insistently gendered as female. The guitar, being a light, curvaceous and softly voiced instrument, was easily associated by the censorious, not always males, with the most vapid aspects of young female minds raised on restricted mental food or with an art of licensed seduction necessary for making successful marriages.
The discussion will broach the question, little explored, of whether the guitar, like the harp and pianoforte, was the subject of a campaign, in effect, to control the potency of musical art in a domestic context by associating it with the narrowed social and intellectual sphere that non-working women were encouraged to inhabit, and with a coquetry which the male viewer (and listener) was always at liberty to indulge or censure as he thought fit.

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Christopher Page was Gresham Professor of Music from 2014-2018. He is Professor of Medieval Music and Literature, a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge. He is an internationally renowned performer and writer, as well as being an experienced presenter through BBC Radio. He holds the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association awarded for outstanding services to musicology.

In 1981 he founded the professional vocal ensemble Gothic Voices now with twenty-five CDs in the catalogue, three of which won the coveted Gramophone Early Music Record of the Year award. The ensemble has performed in Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Sicily, Sweden, America, Israel, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Finland. London dates included twice-yearly sell-out concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall. The ensemble gave its first Promenade Concert in 1989. The group’s work has been chronicled most recently in Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, The Modern Invention of Medieval Music (CUP, 2007) and Richard Taruskin, Text and Act (OUP, 2006).

Professor Page’s major 350,000 word study, The Christian West and its Singers: The First Thousand Years, was published by Yale University Press in 2010. Prior to this, his six other books include Songs and Instruments of the Middle Ages, Discarding Images: Reflections on Musical Life in Medieval France and The Summa Musicae: A Thirteenth-century Manual for Singers. He has edited three books of music, including Abbess Hildegard of Bingen: Sequences and Hymns.

Between 1989 and 1997, Professor Page was presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Programme, Spirit of the Age, and a presenter of the Radio 4 arts’ magazine Kaleidoscope.

Professor Page has been chairman of the National Early Music Association and of the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society (founded 1889) of whose new journal, now published by Cambridge University Press, he was a founding editor. He serves on the editorial boards of the journals Early Music (OUP) and Plainsong and Medieval Music (CUP). He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 2008.

In 2012, Professor Page was a founder member of the Consortium for Guitar Research at Sidney Sussex College, an affiliate of the Royal Musical Association.

Professor Page is currently completing a monograph on the Tudor guitar, representing the more academic side of his interest in playing guitars of the sixteenth-nineteenth centuries in a historically informed manner.

Professor Page has been appointed Gresham Professor of Music from September 2014. In this role he hopes to achieve “the ambition of all Gresham Professors; showing that a little-studied aspect of the field can have much more breadth of interest, and interdisciplinary appeal, than one might initially suppose.”

Professor Page's lecture series were as follows:

2017/18 For Courtesan, Queen and Gallant: The Guitar in England from Henry VIII to Samuel Pepys

2016/17 The Christian Singer from the Gospels to the Gothic Cathedrals

2015/16 Music, Imagination and Experience in the Medieval World

2014/15 Men, Women and Guitars in Romantic England  

All of Professor Page's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

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Grace Davidson is an English soprano who specialises in the performance and recording of Baroque music. Winner of the prestigious Early Music Prize whilst studying singing at London's Royal Academy of Music, she has since carved a successful international career working with the leading Baroque vocal ensembles of our day under the batons of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Paul McCreesh, Philippe Herreweghe and Harry Christophers. As a Baroque soloist Grace has appeared on many of the world's most famous stages, from Purcell's Come Ye Sons of Art at London's Barbican to his Ode to St Cecilia and Bach's Magnificat at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw to Bach's St Matthew Passion at the Lincoln Centre, New York. Her discography includes a decade of CDs with The Sixteen, many of which feature her as a soloist: Handel's Jephtha (as "Angel") and Dixit Dominus, Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers and Pianto Della Madonna and the Lutheran Masses of Bach; she is also the soloist for a recording of Fauré's Requiem by Tenebrae and the LSO.

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Ulrich Wedemeier first studied classical guitar at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hannover and subsequently specialized in playing lutes and historical guitars.
Besides being active as a soloist and with renowned early music ensembles, he concentrates on CD and radio productions.
In 2004 he received an Echo Klassik award with the ensemble Musica Alta Ripa for the CD “Telemann Vol. 1”, and in 2006 again an Echo Klassik with Hamburger Ratsmusik for the CD “Lübecker Virtuosen”.
Ulrich Wedemeier is a guest at many opera houses. Concert tours have brought him through all of Europe, the USA, Southeast Asia, and Japan.
Visit his website for more information.

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Transcript

23 April 2015

The Guitar and 'the Fair Sex'
Professor Christopher Page FBA
Grace Davidson
Ulrich Wedemeier

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