Martin Shepherd – Lutemaker

Martin studied the guitar with Julian Byzantine and Peter Rueffer from 1973-1976, and his interest in the lute was sparked by a lecture-recital given by Tony Rooley in 1974. Whilst a graduate student, in 1979, Martin bought his first lute, an 8 course by David Van Edwards, and the following year attended his first Lute Society Summer School at Cheltenham.

Inspired by Chris Wilson’s recital of early 16th-century music, he decided to make a 6 course lute in 1982, whilst still a post-doctoral research pyschologist at Durham University, having already published an article on lute stringing in the Lute Society newsletter two years previously. During the following couple of years, Martin continued to attend summer schools, and took lessons with Chris Wilson and Nigel North, before making several more lutes for his own use in 1982-8.

Some of Martin’s first concerts took place around this time in Durham, including some work with Jerome Roche, and in 1988 he performed a recital of German lute music for the Lute Society. Following this, in 1988-9 he received his first commissions to make lutes for others, as well as attending the Deller Academy in Lacoste en Provence. Martin moved to Stockport, Cheshire in 1991 and began making lutes full-time.

The following years saw various concerts of lute songs and lute duets with wife Claire Sillince and friend Stewart McCoy, including Chester Music Society and Wirral International Guitar Festival (directed by Brendan McCormack), as well as the publication of The Complete works of John Danyel Vol. 1 (The Lute Society, 1997). As well as attending more courses run by Andrew Lawrence King and Paul O’Dette, amongst others, Martin published his first major lute-related academic piece in 1996: “The interpretation of signs for graces in English lute music” (The Lute 36 (1996), 37-84), and “The Well-tempered Lute”, Lute News (1997).

Since then Martin has continued to make and play a large variety of lutes from treble to theorbo, giving a recital of early German music for the Lute Society of America’s summer seminar in Cleveland in 2004, as well as continuing to pursue research and publication. In 2013 the business moved to Vaudebarrier, France, and 2014 saw the building of Martin’s first non-lute instrument, a viola da mano. Martin and Claire have three adult children, Francis (26), Hugh (24), and Anna (23), as well as four cats and a springer spaniel.

Forthcoming articles include: Octave stringing in England; Robert Dowland’s variety of borrowings.

Francis Shepherd – Digital Media

Francis, Martin’s eldest son, joined Luteshop in 2013 on a part-time basis to oversee marketing and web design, as well as to assist in the workshop. He took up the cello aged 7, more recently becoming a first-study tenor. Francis read for a BA in Music at University College, Oxford, during which time he was a choral exhibitoner with the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, senior organ scholar at St Barnabas Church, Jericho and was also active as a conductor with a range of student ensembles and choirs: he completed a year’s tenure with the Oxford University Wind Orchestra, and has worked with the Oxford University Philharmonia, as well as several college choirs, both as a conductor and organist. In 2013 Francis also completed work experience with organ builders Harrison & Harrison in Durham, England.

Francis manages Luteshop’s online presence, as well having an occasional hand in helping to build instruments and manage the workshop, and has also taken an interest in composition, and the editing of early music. His works have been performed by several choirs in Oxford, including those of University, St John’s, and Merton colleges. After graduating Francis worked as a choral scholar at St Davids Cathedral, before moving to Cornwall, where he is a Lay Vicar in Truro Cathedral Choir, Music Coordinator at Truro School, as well as a freelance singer, cellist, and recording engineer. When not working, he can be found indulging in his passions for landscape photography and fine wines.


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