NYGE and Vida Quartet play in Oxford on Friday 25th July


A date for your diary -
Friday 25th July – 7.30pm
109A Iffley Rd, OXFORD OX4 1EH
Here is a video of NYGE at Easter

Video by Sophie Standford
National Youth Guitar Ensemble, Easter Concert, April 2014
Anton Arensky (1891-1906) Variations on a theme of Tchaikovsky arranged by S. Gordon
Performed at The Menuhin Hall, Stoke D’Abernon, Surrey, UK
Musical Director: Gerald Garcia

Last Year with Belinda Evans

Gerald Garcia conducts the National Youth Guitar Ensemble with Belinda Evans in his “Four Hebridean Songs”. Easter 2013

The National Youth Guitar Ensemble 
& Vida Quartet
Friday 25th July – 7.30pm
109A Iffley Rd, OXFORD OX4 1EH
rogramme includes works by:
Borodin, Mussorgsky, Arensky, Arnold,
Inti Illimani, Gershwin and first performance of
Gerlad Garcia’s Concerto for Guitar Quartet

NYGE and Vida at SJETickets are £10 (Conc. £8) and FREE for Under 18s.
Tickets are available on the door or can be reserved by contacting the NYGE Co-ordinator:
Tel. 07761 425405
Email: info@nyge.co.uk
Web: www.nyge.co.uk

Gabriel Estarellas: live concert playing Lauro, Villa-Lobos, Dodgson, & Calatayud

Selftaughtgirl is on the trail again!
First off, this recording of Gabriel Estarellas, introduced by Stephen Dodgson, who came to stay during these recordings. I was always fascinated by the network of well known guitarists in those days – he was a friend of Cheryl Grice, who was living in Oxford at the time.

Gaëlle Solal – interview and shed fragment

Gaelle and Alison

I had the good fortune to be able to interview Gaëlle Solal after her concerts at Winchester and Canterbury, and had her interesting views on her career, teaching and future projects.
Well worth 12 minutes of your (and my) time.

Here is also an excerpt of her wonderful private gig in the shed where she plays Gismonti, Nazareth and Garoto.

and further videos of this outstanding performer

Spike plays the frying pan in the Fresh Fruit Song

Not exactly the same as Marcel Proust playing a tennis racket. but eerily similar.

Blackbird with crow – Curt and Birdie

Another bird on a guitar!

Curt and Birdie
Youtube Link

Curt Stager is an ecologist, paleoclimatologist, and science journalist with a Ph.D. in biology and geology from Duke University (1985). He has published over three dozen peer-reviewed articles in major journals includingScience and Quaternary Research, and has written extensively for general audiences in periodicals such as National Geographic , Fast Company, and Adirondack Life.  Since 1990, he has also researched and co-hosted Natural Selections, a weekly science program on North Country Public Radio that is syndicated internationally, and has toured widely to offer presentations on his research to audiences ranging, as one colleague put it, “from middle-schoolers to formal scholars.” In 2013, he was named the New York State Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation.

In whatever spare time remains, he performs and records on banjo and guitar (YouTube).

Gordon Crosskey Celebration: RNCM Guitars 1973-2014


I first met Gordon Crosskey through his student Stephen Gordon who was then studying at the Royal Northern. He was a quietly spoken man with definite ideas on technique and the importance of finding accurate and original source material. He was also not adverse to a bit of fun although I recall that he used to go to bed a bit earlier than the usual carousers at the Prussia Cove Summer School.
Other students at the time included Richard Wright, Pete Batchelar, Forbes Henderson and Joe Fung.
Later students of this unassuming pedagogue included Cheryl Grice, Nicola Hall, Paul Galbraith, Jonathan Leathwood, Graham Anthony Devine and many others.

It is typical of Gordon that there is very little biographical information on him. he was highly recommended as a teacher by John Williams in the 70s and rapidly became professor at the Royal Northern College of Music, but most references to him are from his past students.

Now celebrating 50 years as one of the world’s leading guitar teachers, seven of Gordon Crosskey’s most successful students come to perform at the RNCM in a spectacular evening.

A student of Gordon’s in the 1980′s, Greek guitarist Elena Papandreou is one of the world’s leading players and has had many works written for her by composers including Nikita Koshkin and Roland Dyens.

The Aquarelle Guitar Quartet are more recent graduates and have established a major role for themselves in the UK music world as Chandos recording artists with a busy series of engagements and regular appearances on BBC Radio 3.

Tom McKinney has a busy performance career in the world of contemporary and chamber music and as a broadcaster and presenter on BBC radio. He has commissioned many cutting-edge works and his extraordinary abilities have seen him rise to become the leading UK-based guitarist in the world of serious contemporary music.

Craig Ogden studied with Gordon in the early 1990′s and began teaching at the RNCM straight after he graduated. He has established a diverse career encompassing solo, chamber, concerto, session and recording and his work for Classic FM has seen him become one of the most recognized names in the UK.

Venue: Carole Nash Recital Room
Date: Wednesday 25 June 2014 7:30 pm

Gordon Crosskey is also a leading authority on old Sheffield plate!

Gino Paoli with an owl on his guitar

Paoli with owl

Thanks to Retronaut

Paoli was born in Monfalcone, a little town near Trieste, but moved to Genoa at a young age.

After several different jobs, he was signed to Ricordi with friends and fellow musicians Luigi Tenco and Bruno Lauzi. His first success was the single “La Gatta”, which has been used in Italian language teaching classes in American middle schools and high schools.

“Il cielo in una stanza” was composed in 1959. According to Paoli, the lyrics came to him while lying on a brothel bed. Gazing at the purple ceiling, he thought, “Love can grow at any moment at any place”. Mina‘s single release of the song topped the list of annual sales in Italy and reached Billboard Hot 100. Video performances of the song were included in the movies “Io bacio… tu baci” and “Appuntamento a Ischia”. Later it was featured in the “Goodfellas” movie. Carla Bruni Sarkozy covered the song (mixing French with her native Italian) in her debut album (“Quelqu’un m’a dit”).

Gino Paoli’s debut album – Gino Paoli was released in Italy on October 8, 1961 on Dischi Ricordi.

“Il cielo in una stanza” success was followed by “Sapore di sale” (1963), arranged by Ennio Morricone and believed to be his most famous song.

In the same year he attempted suicide by shooting himself in the heart (the bullet is still inside his chest).

Gino Paoli live

La Gatta

Morricone/Paoli concert

Daniel Stachowiak and “lesser known Iberian music”

Prog2 Prog1
When was the last time you saw a programme like this (unless you were lucky enough to attend the Oxford Guitar Society meetings)?
Daniel Stachowiak refreshingly original programme was performed with great panache as well as being scholarly. The most crowd pleasing pieces were probably the Bacarisse or the Pedrell (Carlos, who was the nephew of Felipe Pedrell). There were also rare pieces by Andres Isasi, a Basque composer who wrote many orchestral and chamber works, but only a handful for guitar. This is the sort of territory explored by Ricardo Iznaola, Eugenio Tobalina etal and takes in the Jose Sonata, amongst other significant guitar works which are just coming to light.
This was definitely not rent-a-programme!

Daniel’s first programme for the Oxford Guitar Society was:
Beyond Torroba: Iberian Guitar Music from the 1920s and 1930s
Peacock-Pie (Tres Piezas Infantiles), 1923 – Ernesto Halffter (1905-1989)
Giga Op. 3, 1930 – Rodolfo Halffter (1900-1987)
Sonata del Escorial No 1 Op. 2, 1928 – Rodolfo Halffter
Española, 1930 ca. – Rosa Garcia Ascot (1902-2002)
Corranda (Ancienne Danse Catalane), 1926 – Agusti Grau (1893-1964)
Romancillo, 1923 – Adolfo Salazar (1890-1958)
Romanza, 1921 – Jose Maria Franco (1894-1971)
Homenaje a Matteo Albeniz, 1930 ca. – Gustavo Pittaluga (1906-1975)
Pavana (Heraldos Op. 2b, No 3), 1920 ca. – Salvador Bacarisse (1898-1963)
Tempo di Valse, 1930 ca. – Andres Isasi (1890-1940)
Impromptu (Tres Piezas Op. 45), 1930 ca. – Andres Isasi

I managed to have a word with Daniel afterwards. He spoke about his interest in obscure original guitar repertoire and his journey as an avid guitar student from the age of six until the present day.
Being a purveyor of recherché guitar music myself, I was fascinated to hear his story, and see some of the scores.

Daniel Guitar 1

Here is Daniel’s Story:

I started playing the classical guitar at the age of six.  I had a visiting guitar teacher come and teach at my primary school in Italy and that’s how I picked it up.  My parents were always very supportive of my musical development.
My dad is from the USA and for a while he used to play the clarinet and sax in a band in his twenties in upstate New York to support himself.
At school, I was the kid that always figured out all the new songs quicker than the others in guitar lessons and my first guitar teacher decided that he wanted to teach me privately on a one to one basis.  From there, I quickly enrolled into a specialised music school and, shortly after, I auditioned to enter into the local state music conservatory under the guidance of Pierluigi Corona.  He is very fond of left hand technique and I credit him for helping me develop a strong left hand as we would spend hours together just working on left hand exercises.  In terms of repertoire, we played a lot of Giuliani, Regondi, Bach, Torroba and Dyens.

Daniel Guitar 2 I also studied with Marko Feri who instilled into me an obsessive attention to right hand sound production.  I was so engulfed with left hand exercises and technique that I really did not pay attention to my right hand posture and the way it affects the sound you make.  Marko Feri really helped me develop my right hand and also, as I grew older, a musical understanding of the pieces I was playing.  At the time, we played a lot Castelnuovo-Tedesco.
My last mention goes to Frederic Zigante, who instilled in me my current interest into researching lesser known guitar music.  He pioneered the music of Alexandre Tansman and focused on his lesser well know pieces.  To this day, I consider Tansman’s Preludio from the Cavatina, Danza Pomposa and Mazurka to be amongst some of my favourite guitar music of all time.

Independently, whilst studying for my IB diploma at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, I started investigating and playing as much guitar music as I could get my hands on written by non-guitarist composers.
I played a lot of Ponce and Mompou during that period alongside my favourite Tansman tunes. It’s through the latter’s posthumous works published by Berben in Gilardino’s The Segovia Archive series that I became fascinated with all of the music composed by mainly non-guitarist composers which Segovia never really played or paid much attention to for one reason or another.
To this present day, I am still working out and performing pieces from that series.  Currently I am working on the pieces written by the Catalan composer Jaume Pahissa.

In 2005, I graduated from the state music conservatory with full marks.  The final test required giving a 75 minute recital.  I played transcriptions of lute music by Molinaro, works by Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Berkeley, and some Bach and Giuliani.  The same year, I left Italy for the UK for a three year stint at Oxford University, reading music at St Peter’s College.  As a classical guitarist fresh from graduation, I was hoping that the world of Oxford academia would be an ideal place to pursue further my musicological interest in 20th century guitar music written by non-guitarist composers.  I quickly discovered that I was the only classical guitarist reading for a degree in music and, in a insular world dominated by choral music and organ scholars, I did not really feel part of Oxford’s musical scene.  Back in Italy, I started transcribing lute music for guitar from tablature and this side interest of mine became my main field of interest at Oxford University.  I borrowed a lute and taught myself how to play the lute and read music straight from tablature.  I then took lessons with the Oxford lutenist Matthew Spring and started playing the lute full time and pretty much retired my guitar for the moment.R Halffter Sonata Title Page-page-1 Isasi Tres Piezas Excerpt-page-1

I finally felt I had something to offer in Oxford and was in constant demand as a lutenist.
I was very popular with singers and played many lute songs at the time.  My Oxford experience culminated in 2008 with a critical edition of a hard-to-find anthology of lute music compiled in the 17th century by Pietro Paolo Raimondi along with a lute recital at the Holywell Music Room.Gombau Valse Excerpt-page-1

How did I return to the classical guitar? Well, in 2008-2009 I took a PGCE course at Oxford Brookes University training to be a secondary school music teacher and in 2009-2010 I worked towards a masters degree in music.
The Oxford bubble of early music, countertenor singers and lutes of various sizes was behind me.  During those two years I slowly started revisiting my favourite Tansman, Ponce, Torroba and other ‘golden oldies’ and in 2010 I joined the Buckinghamshire Music Service as a peripatetic classical guitar teacher.
I fully regained my command of the guitar and I even think I managed to improve my technique since my days as a keen guitarist in Italy.  I resumed my research into lesser known guitar music composed by non-guitarist composers and was lucky enough to get in touch through the Internet with a group of keen South American collectors of rare guitar music who helped locate a lot of the music I perform these days.

Salazar Romancillo Excerpt-page-1At first, my recitals were based around the theme of Segovia, presenting both music he liked to play and music which unfortunately he wasn’t able to fit into his busy concert schedule.  I particularly enjoyed playing Albert Roussel’s Segovia, Gustave Samazeuilh’s Serenade and of course Tansman’s Mazurka.  All three works were written for Segovia in 1925 as a result of his Parisian debut concert in the hall of the city’s Conservatoire the year before.
Currently, my main interest is investigating Iberian guitar music written between the 1920s and 1950s beyond the Torroba, Turina and Rodrigo canons.  Some of the music belongs to the sphere of Segovia such as the works by Jaume Pahissa, Jose Antonio de Donostia, Gaspar Cassado Pedro Sanjuan and Vicente Arregui, but a lot of it belongs under the umbrella of music composed for Emilio Pujol, Regino Sainz de Maza and Narciso Yepes.  In it, we mainly find guitar music composed by the forward thinking group of Madrid composers known as the Grupo de los Ocho (Ernesto Halffter and his brother Rodolfo, Juan Jose Mantecon, Julian Bautista, Fernando Remacha, Rosa Garcia Ascot, Salvador Bacarisse and Gustavo Pittaluga).
Other composers worth also mentioning are members of the Catalan Group of Eight (El Grup dels Vuit) Agusti Grau, Federico Mompou and Roberto Gerhard, the Basque Andres Isasi, the eclectic Gerardo Gombau and finally Adolfo Salazar, Jose Maria Franco and Eduardo Lopez-Chavarri; composers who were part of the broader group of artists known as the Generation of ’27.
Remacha Preludio excerpt-page-2
All of this goes without even having mentioned Antonio Jose and his monumental Sonata para Guitarra.  I seem to have a mental block against the piece and still haven’t found the courage to work it out properly.  Personally, I prefer to drift from one short piece to another grouped together under a common research umbrella.  In order to offer a broader story line to these groups of composers, I also include in my performances a couple of cheeky transcriptions from piano works mostly done in the 50 and 60s by the Basque guitarist Jose de Azpiazu.

Remacha Preludio excerpt-page-1


I firmly believe that all of this mostly forgotten Iberian guitar music should be more well known as most of it, in my opinion, is very playable, audience-friendly and doesn’t require excessive editing.

Currently, the challenge of this repertory is tracking it all down as much of it remains still in manuscript form or published by small specialist publications in Spain.

For example, I am yet to get my hands on Juan Jose Mantecon’s Danza del Atardecer and Jesus Bal y Gay’s Pastoral both composed in the 1930s for Regino Sainz de la Maza.  Maybe sometime in the near future, I will make the pilgrimage to Spain and visit the Juan March archives in Madrid where all of this excellent guitar music is kept.

This was certainly an enterprising programme containing most interesting and musical material.

Congratulations to Daniel – may his spirit of adventure continue, and congratulations to the Oxford Guitar Society for having the acumen to put on such an adventurous programme and performer. Vivant!
Daniel’s YouTube Channel including music by Isasi and Halffter.

All of Bach for Free!

All of Bach for Free! New Site Will Put Performances of 1080 Bach Compositions Online

Bach 1st Harpsichord Concerto

Probably quite old news now, but worth mentioning again. Thanks to Open Culture
I wonder who will perform the lute music?

Bach wrote 1080 compositions during his lifetime. And now thanks to the new and certainly ambitious All of Bach web site, you can eventually watch the Netherlands Bach Society (founded in 1921) perform each and every one of those compositions.

By the way, that opening piece on the video is an interesting organ transcription of a  cantata Sinfonia (Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal, BWV 146) based on the D minor keyboard concerto BWV 1052 which is probably in turn a transcription of a lost violin concerto and which I transcribed for a Naxos recording

Long-lost opera by Spanish composer Enrique Granados located

Here is an interesting story:
Granados, born in 1867, composed “Maria del Carmen” in 1898, the year Spain and the United States went to war. It premiered in Madrid to such acclaim that Queen Maria Cristina awarded Granados the Charles III Cross for his work. The opera — a love triangle set in a Spanish village in the region of Murcia — was later revised for subsequent productions, but was never performed in its original version again.

In 1938, one of Granados’ sons sold the original opera to a prominent New York musician and publisher for $300 to raise money for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War. Other family members wanted it returned. The question of ownership remained the subject of litigation for decades until 1970 when the opera was reported destroyed in a warehouse fire in New York.

Walter Clark, professor of music and director of The Center for Iberian and Latin American Music at the University of California, Riverside, who came upon the opera while researching material for his biography, “Enrique Granados, Poet of the Piano” , was obsessed by it for years. After wondering if it was really destroyed contacted the grandson of the man who had purchased ‘Maria’ and finally found it. Clark, incidentally, is a guitarist who plays Granados on the guitar.

“No one has heard this performed since 1899,” Clark said. “It is being published now by Tritó, the same company that will record it. It will be performed in various places in Spain next year, and I will be there. This is a 20-year detective story with a happy ending.”