#MiddayMusic presents Jonatan Bougt (theorbo) and Ben Tarlton (cello)
This week our Young Artists Jonatan Bougt (theorbo) and Ben Tarlton (cello) performed for #MiddayMusic. You can watch their videos below. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to catch Matilda Lloyd (trumpet) perform next Monday and Amy Thompson (bassoon) perform next Wednesday, both at midday. Details of their repertoire can be found in the details section on YouTube. All of our #MiddayMusic videos can be watched on our exclusive playlist.
The theorbo isn’t a common instrument or one that’s easy to master, hence its ‘O bother’ anagram, but it certainly turns heads. Jonatan who finally picked up the theorbo as an undergraduate at the RCM, has found its unusualness and size a great ice-breaker when meeting other musicians. It has also led to many more music opportunities.
“While the physicality of plucking a theorbo string is similar [to the guitar], it requires a different mindset. You need to be able to adapt to hundreds of years of history to play it well.” Having performed at iconic venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Queen’s Gallery and Stockholm Concert Hall, Jonatan, who has an MA in historical performance, is currently learning new repertoire and home recording. “As a Handel House Talent musician I recently collaborated on a recording of Handel’s Caro! Bella! (duet from Giulio Cesare). The cello and harpsichord provided the ground bass for the music – the other Handel House Talent instrumentalists recorded over the top.”
For the #MiddayMusic concert series, Jonatan performs ‘Chaconne’ and ‘La Villanelle’ by Robert de Visée, who played at the court of the French kings Louise XIV and XV. “Aside from its topical namesake – Villanelle is the name of the female assassin in Killing Eve – for me, the short variations of La Villanelle represent lockdown. While each one changes in mood and character, it isn’t very adventurous harmonically and feels a lot like the daily rhythm that I have ended up having at home and not travelling anywhere for an extended period of time. There is no stress, no claustrophobic crowds, just this pleasant and familiar daily life at home.”
Ben Tarlton: adapting to change
“I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin – less camera shy”, says cellist Ben Tarlton, who switched the stage for the computer screen during lockdown in order to promote projects. Ben, a final year Guildhall School postgraduate and artistic director of the Llantwit Major Chamber Music Festival, has been busy keeping up community spirit and festival momentum with regular updates. His video series entitled ‘Festival Chats’ for Facebook and Instagram interviews established musicians.
“As musicians we are trained to work at our craft, develop our musicianship and get the nerves to play in front of people, not market ourselves. I’m now my own promoter and sound recorder too! Instead of harbouring romantic notions and trying to rebuild the past, lockdown has shown the importance of adapting to change. However, it’s important to me to act with integrity and only share the things I feel are relevant.”
For Ben’s #MiddayMusic choice he picked Bach Cello Suite No.3 in C major, a zesty, joyful suite of works which he recorded in St. Illtud’s Church, home of the Llantwit Major Chamber Music Festival. “‘I’d forgotten how nice it was to play in a good space,” says Ben, who is looking forward to the day he can finally perform his concerto debut in the Barbican Hall as part of his Guildhall 2020 Gold Medal award. “For the last three months I’ve been playing in my family home in South Wales, beneath a low ceiling.”