Ayreheart draws from a wide range of musical styles and the diverse talents of its members. A unique mix of ancient and modern instuments showcases the veratile range of the lute and establishes its relevance as a contemporary musical instrument.
GRAMMY-nominated lutenist, Ronn McFarlane strives to bring the lute - the most popular instrument of the Renaissance - into today’s musical mainstream and make it accessible to a wider audience. At thirteen, upon hearing “Wipeout” by the Surfaris, he fell wildly in love with music and taught himself to play on a "cranky sixteen-dollar steel-string guitar.” Ronn kept at it, playing blues and rock music on the electric guitar while studying classical guitar.
In 1978, Ronn turned his full energy to the lute. Soon he began to perform solo recitals on the lute and became a member of the Baltimore Consort. Since then, he has toured throughout the United States, Canada and Europe with the Baltimore Consort and as a soloist. He has over 30 recordings on the Dorian label, including solo albums, lute songs, recordings with the Baltimore Consort, the lute concertos of Vivaldi, and Blame Not My Lute, a collection of Elizabethan lute music and poetry, with spoken word by Robert Aubry Davis.
Recently, Ronn has been engaged in composing new music for the lute, building on the tradition of the lutenist/composers of past centuries. His original compositions are the focus of his solo CD, Indigo Road, which received a GRAMMY Award Nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2009.
As a composer, this multi-talented member has a special fondness for involvement in original music. McFarlane’s compositions hold special interest for him as they require a sense of well-established classical music tradition but with a modern approach infusing styles of jazz, bluegrass, rock and free improvisation.
Brian Kay began his musical life at the age of 10 when he got his first drum set and formed his first band. Although this “drum set” was merely a snare drum with no stand and a bass drum with no pedal, Brian wasted no time honing his chops and developing his musical imagination while practicing for hours with his mother’s wooden spoons. He has since had a productive and diverse musical career. As a singer and multi-instrumentalist, he enjoys performing a broad range of musical styles as well as teaching about the history of the instruments he plays and the songs he sings.
Brian has performed throughout the United States and beyond. He specializes in historical plucked instruments and ancient songs of the world, is a songwriter, plays a variety of percussion and wind instruments, writes poetry, and paints. During the 2013 - 2014 season, Brian appeared in major US cities such as Boston, Cleveland, Miami, Houston, and New York.
Brian has been featured at distinguished venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Shriver Hall, and Boston Early Music Festival. He is the only two time winner of The Lute Society of America's national Emerging Artist lute competition and the 2013 recipient of Peabody Conservatory's Excellence in Early Music Award. Cleveland Classical Review called Brian "far-ranging", "brilliant", and "exciting". The Boston Musical Intelligencer stated that Brian "bemused and beguiled" and Early Music America called Brian "phenomenal".
Enthusiastic about teaching, Mr. Kay has lectured at Yale University, The Peabody Conservatory, Shriver Hall, and The Walters Art Museum. In September, 2012 he was Artist in Residence at The Cushman School in Miami, Florida, where he taught 7th & 8th graders musical appreciation through the experience of composing and producing their own music.
Mattias Rucht has been active in the local Washington DC music scene for over 20 years as a drummer, playing in various rock, jazz and folk groups. He has also played in theatrical productions and accompanied dancers and storytellers. In the last ten years he has discovered the joy of ethnic percussion and world music, bringing a wide range of influences to his playing style.