Student painting pottery

The Troubadour Series

Carl SandburgThe Troubadour Series at Wofford is named after Carl Sandburg, who was called "the Old Troubadour" by Frank Lloyd Wright. Sandburg's home is located in Flat Rock, N.C., and he visited the Wofford campus on more than one occasion. He was an avid guitarist who wrote several poems inspired by the guitar and guitarists. On his deathbed in 1967, he requested to hear one of the Segovia recordings he had listened to since the 1930s. 

All Troubadour Series concerts are free and open to the public.

For more information about Sandburg, click here. For more information about The Troubadour Series, please contact Dr. John Akers.

Friends of the Series: Tom and Moss Baldwin, Asheville, NC. http://www.baldwinclassical.com/

Spring 2017 Performances

Grammy-nominated lutenist returns to Wofford Feb. 14

Ronn McFarlane to serenade Spartanburg audience for Valentine’s Day

Ronn McFarlaneSPARTANBURG, S.C. – This Valentine’s Day, audiences in Spartanburg will once again have the chance to hear one of America’s premier virtuosos on the lute – once a symbol of love – when Grammy-nominated Ronn McFarlane returns to the Troubadour Series at Wofford College.

The performance, which is free and open to the public, will be at 7 p.m. in Leonard Auditorium in Main Building on Wofford’s campus.

McFarlane will perform works by well-known composers such as J.S. Bach, anonymous Scottish tunes and those whose names might be less familiar, such as the eccentric Italian Alessandro Piccinini.  

“It really has its own personality that’s different from the guitar or the mandolin or the banjo or the harp, but it has elements of all of those instruments in its sound,” McFarlane says of the lute. Composers from different regions each had unique ways of writing for lute, which McFarlane will demonstrate during the concert. Even the instrument itself changed over time; he will perform on the Renaissance lute and its younger cousin, the Baroque lute.

“I became passionately interested in music at age 13, when I heard a group of classmates who had formed a rock band playing ‘Wipeout’ by the Surfaris,” McFarlane says. “I played electric guitar in rock bands and went on to study classical guitar in conservatories. Of the classical guitar music that I studied, my favorites were the Renaissance and Baroque pieces that had originally been lute pieces – later arranged for the guitar. I gravitated toward the lute and wanted to hear what this music might have sounded like on the instrument for which it was originally composed. There’s a strong connection between the rock music I played as a teenager and the Renaissance and Celtic music I now perform. Strong rhythms and improvisation are there in both styles, and the blues scale is the same as old Scottish modes that were used 400 years ago.”

Not only is McFarlane an expert in lute music for the distant past, he continually works to expand the repertoire for the instrument. His own compositions for the lute incorporate diverse influences, from classical and Celtic to rock, folk and bluegrass.

“I hear the lute as a naturally expressive and articulate instrument, capable of playing modern musical styles compellingly as well as playing Renaissance and Baroque music,” he says. “After playing only historical music for more than 20 years, I found it freeing and fun to let in all the modern musical influences and to compose in a way that reflects all my favorite kinds of music.” 

McFarlane is a founding member of both The Baltimore Consort and Ayreheart – a quartet of lutes, percussion and vocals – which performs both Renaissance and original music.

Past Years Performers 

  • David Burgess
  • Steve Erquiaga
  • Francois Fowler
  • Amy Brucksch
  • David Stevenson and River Guerguerian
  • Oliver Fartach Naini
  • William Dale Smith
  • Ana Lourdes Rodriguez (Piano)
  • Lenti Duo (Piano)
  • Stanley Alexandrowicz
  • Juan Falú
  • Steven Walters
  • Robert Sharpe
  • Austin Bella Corda
  • Roger Cope
  • Douglas James and Pasquale Rucco
  • Zane Forshee
  • Ernesto Tamayo
  • Robert Gruca
  • Carlos Perez
  • Ana Vidovic
  • Duo Kithara
  • Duo Allant
  • Ronn Mcfarlane
  • Ramón Justicia
  • John Akers
  • Keith Gehle
  • Swiss Guitar Quartet
  • Tantalus Guitar Quartet
  • Montana Skies (Guitar and Cello)
  • Georgia Guitar Quartet
  • James Marron
  • Texas Guitar Quartet
  • Hiroya Tsukamoto
  • Presti Guitar Trio
  • Lynn McGrath
  • Spotlight Series: Lily Afshar
  • Jerome Ducharme
  • James Manuele and Foti Lycouridis (Portland Guitar Duo)
  • Nicholas Goluses
  • Gráinne Hambly & William Jackson (Harp)
  • Patrick Lui
  • Gohar Vardanyan
  • Stephen Robinson
  • Angela Easterling and Brandon Turner
  • Marcos Diaz
  • Gerald Klickstein
  • Joseph Pecoraro
  • Genevieve Leitner
  • Numerous Students from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
  • Yuri Liberzon
  • Salomé Sandoval
  • Spotlight Series of the Music Foundation: Sharon Isbin
  • Michael Nicolella
  • Marco Sartor 
  • Christopher Berg
  • Martha Masters
  • Thomas Viloteau
  • Jérémy Jouve
  • Ricardo Cobo
  • Andrew Zohn
  • Akerman-Teixeira Duo
  • Isaac Bustos
  • Marina Alexandra
  • Valerie Hartzell