Lutes take over Lilydale

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By Nigel Tapp

Lilydale Uniting Church, about 25 km from Launceston, was the centre of the lute universe in February.

Organised by lutenist Susan King, the 2014 LuteFest was headlined by eminent Swiss-based lutenist and early music pioneer Hopkinson (Hoppy) Smith and his wife Karin Paulsmeier, a world expert in early music notation.

Hoppy and Karin worked with lute and baroque guitar students from across Australia, supported by John Griffiths, of Melbourne, and Andrew Byrne, of Sydney, both wonderful lutenists and teachers.

The Lilydale Uniting Church made its facilities available through the close involvement of the Rev Amanda Nicholas and a church committee led by Barbara Wood.

The participants found the Lilydale Uniting Church to be the perfect venue. At the very back of the church is a light, airy room that was well suited for classes and workshops.

The highlight was the beautiful performance space. Originally the Lilydale Methodist Church, it is a very high-ceilinged wooden building with natural light spilling though the windows. The acoustics are very sensitive and allow the delicate sounds of the lute to travel to all corners of the church.

The acoustics were indeed well tested, not only by participants during the day, but through three concerts on three consecutive evenings. Each concert was attended by more than 40 people.

The community was also welcome to wander in during the day to sit and listen to the classes and workshops.

Renowned luthier Tim Guster, from South Australia, brought with him the means to make a lute. Over the time of the LuteFest activities, he carefully crafted the elements that would become a very special lute.

Mr Guster worked on the northern side of the church, making him visible from the street and the subject of much interest from locals and visitors.

The final event was a community concert at the church in which lute students played for the community. The raffle was drawn and the lute made by Tim Guster went to a thrilled local.

Money raised by the raffle was donated to the Lilydale Fire Brigade, which will use it to purchase paediatric neck braces for use when they attend motor vehicle accidents.

Many community groups were involved including Lilydale Arts, the Lilydale District Progress Association and the Lilydale Fire Brigade.

But, the Lilydale Uniting Church was the busiest part of the village. In fact, one of the participants commented that having the LuteFest in the multi-functional church building with its beautiful performance space ensured the event’s success.

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