• Eliza Smith

Celebrating My Favorite 16th Century Sadboi: Virtual Recital March 26th

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

John Dowland was born in England in 1563. He was also what I like to call the "sadboi" of renaissance lute music. For those of you who aren't in the know, a sadboi is a sub-genre of modern masculinity and consists of mainly young men who are "open about his emotions, especially his feeling sad about failed relationships and unrequited love, and channels his sadness artistically." Dowland's most popular tunes were melancholic to say the least with titles like "In darkness let me dwell", "I saw my lady weepe", and most famously, "Flow my tears" which ended up becoming his calling card. When listening to his music, I can't help but hear parallels between melancholic and powerful songwriters like Sufjan Stevens and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. Dowland enjoyed a second renaissance in the 20th century as interest in his works grew, even piquing the interest of Sting who released his own modern interpretations. These contemporary ties are what inspired me for an upcoming performance project with Lumedia Musicworks titled "Dowland Reimagined".

The program features some of Dowland's most famous pieces including "Flow my tears" as well as a few new-to-me gems like "Deare if you change". While some of the program will feature traditional accompaniment with renaissance lute, played by Hector Torres of Trio Resonance, the majority of the program will feature a contemporary twist. I selected two pieces to be revoiced with soprano, electric guitar, and vibraphone, played by Jaime Esposito from Spectrum Ensemble. The program will also feature three new works by my colleague and friend, Mason Bynes. Mason is currently a composition student at Boston Conservatory Berklee whose melodic writing and experience in composing for guitar were perfect for the project!

"Flow my teares, fall from your springs. Exiled, forever let me mourn..." - John Dowland, sadboi

The recital is hosted by Lumedia Musicworks which is an early music non-profit with a diverse portfolio of live orchestral performances, virtual concerts, and music films, all centered around music written before 1750. Over the last year, they've invested heavily in keeping their audiences engaged with cutting-edge content that entertains and educates about everything early music. "Dowland Reimanged" is part of their pre-recorded Spotlight Series which features area artists in local venues. For this upcoming performance, I booked Paschall Bar, a speakeasy in Denton, Texas with a suitably timeless and nostalgic vibe. Additionally, I was able to get in touch with Shakespeare Dallas to costume the outfit in theatrical renaissance threads. You will be able to see the overall effect starting March 26th when the performance will go live online. You can purchase your tickets through the Lumedia Musicworks website here.

I want to give a shoutout to Eric and the staff at Paschall Bar for going above and beyond in the booking and filming process. I would also like to thank Shakespeare Dallas for letting me dig through their amazing collection of costumes until I found exactly what I was looking for. Additionally, I couldn't have done this without the talented and ever-positive Jaime Esposito on vibraphone and Hector Torres on guitar and lute. I also couldn't be more grateful for the keen eyes and ears of Cam Covello who captured the whole thing in record time and with meticulous detail. Finally, I feel blessed that yet another one of my creative daydreams was brought to life by Lumedia Musiworks who made this event possible.

Go to to purchase tickets for "Dowland Reimagined"

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