Jeffrey Noonan

Lute, theorbo, early guitars

Trained as a classical guitarist, Jeffrey Noonan has played lute, theorbo and early guitars for nearly forty years across the Midwest. Based in St. Louis, he has performed throughout the region with various ensembles including Shakespear’s Bande, Early Music St. Louis, Armonia e Passione, Kansas City Baroque Consortium, Bourbon Baroque (Louisville, KY), the Madison Early Music Festival (Madison, WI), Ars Antigua (Chicago), and Musik Ekklesia (Indianapolis, IN.) In addition, Jeff has created and directed a number of Early Music ensembles including The Ellenwood Consort, Such Sweete Melodie, Musicke’s Cordes and La Petite Brise. An in-demand accompanist and continuo player, Jeff performs a varied repertoire ranging from sixteenth-century chanson with solo voice to Handel’s Messiah with the St. Louis Symphony. A recognized expert on the early guitar, Jeff has produced two books and several articles for The Grove Dictionary of American Music/Oxford Music Online on the subject. His edition of violin trio sonatas by the 18th-century Italian composer Giovanni Bononcini was published in 2012 by A-R Editions. Jeff's most recent research project is an edition of two seventeenth-century Italian song manuscripts he uncovered in Chicago’s Newberry Library. He has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and in 2015 the Newberry Library awarded Jeff its Cullen Fellowship to research and edit music manuscripts in its collection. In 2016, the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission presented Jeff with a RAC Artist Fellowship in recognition of his accomplishments in musical scholarship, pedagogy and performance.

Jeff appears on Musik Ekklesia's Grammy-nominated CD on the Sono Luminus label and can be heard on-line as a soloist and in a variety of ensembles with Chicago’s Ars Antingua and his ensembles Such Sweete Melodie, Musickes Cordes and La Petite Brise.

Jeff has had a long career in the theatre, creating and performing music for productions ranging from Lysistrata to David Hare’s Teeth ‘n’ Smiles. His theatre work began in college in pit bands, playing for university and community theatre productions. Beginning in the 1980s, Jeff became more active as a composer and music director for a wide variety of productions. These included incidental music for Oscar Wilde’s Salome, Brazilian tropicalia performed live for a production of Aristophones’ Lysistrata and a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with period music and instruments. Through the 1980s, Jeff served as Music Director for St. Louis’s Holy Roman Repertory Company, a radio theatre ensemble dedicated to historical drama supported by period music. In the early 1990s, Jeff became Artistic Director of HRRC, taking the reins from its founder, the late Hollis Huston. In his decade with HRRC, Jeff not only arranged and directed the music but also researched and wrote scripts and directed the live recorded performances. HRRC’s radio shows were heard on NPR stations across the country through the 1980s.

Since then, Jeff remained active in the St. Louis theatre scene, composing and performing music for a wide range of plays. These include an acclaimed production of Machiavelli’s The Mandrake with St. Louis’s Theatre Project Company, more Shakespeare on period instruments, some Moliere and a number of plays by Brecht in productions in the early 2000’s at Washington University’s Performing Arts Department. In 2004 and 2007, Jeff directed Benjamin Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde with well-received performances in Minneapolis and at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau MO.

In addition to his performing work, for a decade in the 1990’s Jeff was proprietor of The Classic Guitar Center, a store and studio focused on the classical guitar. The shop featured the largest holdings of music for classical guitar in the Midwest, a large selection of guitar and lute recordings as well as handcrafted guitars and lutes by American and international luthiers and workshops. Additionally, Jeff led a small staff of guitar instructors who offered lessons to students of all ages on classical guitar and lute. Over the years, many of Jeff’s guitar students have gone on to undergraduate and graduate programs in classical guitar. His students have studied classical guitar and lute at numerous schools of music and conservatories including Arizona State University, University of Nevada—Las Vegas, Cal Arts, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, Hartt School of Music, Indiana University and the Peabody Conservatory.

Jeff holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame (A.B.), the Hartt School of Music (B.Mus.) and Washington University in St. Louis (M.Mus., Ph.D.) Over the years, he served as adjunct faculty at St. Mary’s College, Indiana/Purdue Universities in Fort Wayne, Andrews University and Washington University in St. Louis. Jeff served on the full-time faculty of Southeast Missouri State University from 1999 to 2015, where he taught upper-level music literature and history courses and directed the classical guitar program. He retired from Southeast as a Professor of Music in 2015.



Giovanni Bononcini, Twelve Chamber Sonatas (London, 1732), editor, Recent Researches in Music of the Baroque Era (Middleton, Wis.: A-R Editions, 2012)

The Guitar in Late Nineteenth-Century Periodicals, 1882-1933 (Middleton, Wis.: Music Library Association and A-R Editions, 2009)

The Guitar in America: Victorian Parlor to Jazz Age (Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 2008)



“Guitar” and “Banjo, Mandolin & Guitar Movement” (article entries), The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edn. and Oxford Music On-Line (2013)

“Highbrow, Lowbrow and Middlebrow: An Introduction to America’s Progressive Era Mandolin Orchestra,” Musique, Images, Instruments, No. 12 (2011): 11 – 29.  [Paris, Laboratoire d'organologie et d'iconographie of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)]

“The Guitar in America’s BMG Movement: Culture, Commerce, and Aesthetics in Late 19th-century America,” Soundboard 31/1(2005).

Book Review: Deep Listeners by Judith Becker in Big Muddy (Spring 2005).

 “A Desirable and Fashionable Instrument,” NYlon Review, 2/1 (Fall 2004) [on-line journal of New York City Classical Guitar Society].



Session Chair: Lute Technique: "Third Annual Conference on Historical Performance: Theory, Practice and Interdisciplinarity," (June 2018) Early Music Institute, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. 

"Musicking, Musical Significance and Historical Performance Practice:   Lessons from Christopher Small and Mantle Hood for Early Music Performance," Musicking: Performance, Politics and Personalities (April 2016), University of Oregon, Eugene, OR.

“Calypso, Costa Rica and Cross Disciplinary Pedagogy: Ethnomusicology as a Model of Collaborative Research,” Department of Music Lecture Series, Washington University (February 2010), St. Louis, MO. (co-presentation with Dr. Warren Anderson, Professor of Anthropology, Southeast Missouri State University)

“Calypso, Costa Rica and Cross Disciplinary Learning: Defining and Uniting Disciplines by Modeling Ethnomusicology,” Association for General & Liberal Studies Annual Meeting (October 2009), St. Louis, MO. (co-presentation with Dr. Warren Anderson, Professor of Anthropology, Southeast Missouri State University)

“Image and Likeness—The American Mandolin Orchestra,” Music in Gotham—The 19th-Century Orchestra (January 2008), City University of New York and the New York Philharmonic, New York, NY.

“Before Segovia: How America Re-invented the Guitar,” American Musical Instrument Society (June 2007), Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments, New Haven, CT.

“Plucked Instruments in Baroque Performance,” Graduate Music Colloquium (April 2006), Department of Music, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

“Images of the Guitar in America’s Banjo, Mandolin & Guitar Periodicals,” Society for American Music National Conference (February 2005), Eugene, OR.

“Before Segovia, Johnson and Carter:  The Guitar in America, 1880-1930,” Musicology Lecture Series (October 2004), Department of Music, Washington University in St. Louis, MO. 

"Musical Representation in the Paintings of Hieronymus Bosch," Mid-America College Art Association Conference (1983), St. Louis, MO.

 "Musical Representation in the Paintings of Hieronymus Bosch," Musicology Lecture Series (1983), Department of Music, Washington University in St. Louis, MO.