What I did at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 1985

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Just a bit of history – the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival used to have composition competitions, and the year I played there, the compositions were all for guitar.

The thing is, not all entries were in until the week before, and I had to play them all – some at sight. This was an entertaining experience and pieces ranged from graphic scores to pieces which were purposely impossible!

Anyway, here is a review from Classical Guitar magazine such as it was in those days (when it was published in the UK).
As well as the winning entries, I played ‘Nasiye’, written for me by Michael Finnissy, ‘Monogram’ by Gilbert Biberian (I gave the first performance in the Wigmore Hall), Tippett’s ‘The Blue Guitar’ and ‘Parabola’ and ‘Decameron Negro’ by Leo Brouwer.

That was just for starters (just kidding). The audience was large and appreciative unlike my earlier concert which  I played at a nearby Guitar Society a few days before and was met with a prize comment from the secretary – “That was OK, Gerald, but I was hoping you would play ‘Recuerdos'”!

Here is the text of the review – the pdf is below

from Classical Guitar July 1986

GERALD GARCIA and NEW GUITAR MUSIC at HUDDERSFIELD

by Richard Leigh Harris

‘A contemporary music festival? In Huddersfield?’, a colleague asked, frowning deeply.
Admittedly he wasn’t a new music buff, but that comment demonstrates well enough the general reaction by musicians to developments in the music of their own age, as well as to the all- too-familiar clichéd images of Northern industrial towns and cities, perpetuated by
numerous jokes and snide asides.

Since its modest inception in 1978, however, the annual Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival has ‘taken off’ to a degree hardly envisaged in the early days by its Artistic
Director, Richard Steinitz, a lecturer in the music department at the Polytechnic. Indeed,
within the last few years and despite quite heavy financial difficulties, Huddersfields’ annual gathering now very much bears all the hallmarks of enlightened, stimulating
programme planning and excellence of execution that makes it in many areas a serious challenger to the major European festivals of new music such as the Venice Biennale, Royan, ISCM, etc as well as those promoted through or via college campuses in the
United States. This international quality and ambience was reinforced at the last, 1985, festival by the presence of leading Italian figures of the eminence of Berio, Aldo Clementi, Salvatore Sciarrino (the latter two names relatively new to British audiences), Bussoti, Donatoni plus the ltalian- influenced Englishman Bernard Rands, now resident in Boston, Mass. Jonathan Harvey and Michael Finnissy completed the list of featured composers
who during the eight days of intense activity (19-27 November) talked informally about prospective performances of their pieces, directed student workshops, adjudicated and were on hand generally to give advice and point the way forward.

An incidental aspect of the 1985 festival was the presence of the ‘Oxford connection’ in the form of guitarists Gerald Garcia, David Harvey, ex-Abingdon composer Jeremy Pike plus the present writer who travelled up from Oxford with Gerald Garcia and pretty well, in the words of the late Philip Larkin ‘. . . waking at the fumes/And furnace-glares of Sheffield where I changed/And eat an awful pie . .  although not so many furnaces these days and
more of a stale BR sandwich than a pie .

Gerald Garcia was invited to Huddersfield in a twofold context: giving an open guitar workshop on pieces submitted for the Yorkshire Arts Association Young Composers Competition, plus a late-night recital held in the Huddersfield Art Gallery and sponsored by W. H. Smith.

At the risk of preaching to the converted, the following points are perhaps worth restating.
Until Julian Breams’ policy and, indeed, advocacy of commissioning new works from leading composers expressly for the solo guitar, this most subtle and intimate of solo instruments went neglected and unsung as far as new pieces were concerned (see Classical Guitar, Feb/March 1986). Since the major mid-Sixties landmark of Britten’s Nocturnal and the subsequent flow of works from established figures such as Walton, Henze, Maxwell Davies, Richard Rodney Bennett and, most recently and importantly, Sir Michael Tippett and Elliott Carter (‘Changes’ for David Starobin), at long last the guitar is
now being seen by living composers as a viable instrument for which to write, as well as a challenge to produce music which is still recognisably composer X’s while being ready and willing to respond to the technical, syntactical idiosyncrasies of the guitar. Perhaps above all, new music for the guitar is now taken seriously and no longer (thank God) relegated to the fourth division of so-called aesthetical ‘good taste’.

Download (PDF, 427KB)

Interview: Stephen Mattingly in the shed and the pub

Steve MattinglyI seem to have known Stephen Mattingly for years.

We first met at the GB Summer school (which Gilbert Biberian and I directed many years ago) and Stephen regularly keeps cropping up at guitar festivals.
He is a member of the Tantalus Guitar Quartet who recorded my “Blue Nose Ballads” on Debut.

At GFA 2013 Louisville, he and the Tantalus Quartet gave the first performance of my piece “Spectral Dreams” for Guitar Quartet and Guitar Orchestra. Steve was instrumental in getting me over to the USA and also provided some very fine home-brewed beer.
So it was a pleasure to have him come over to the shed and also talk about his latest projects over a pint, after a rather distressing encounter with a less than sympathetic bus driver who refused to let his luggage off (it was destined for the wrong stop only half a mile away!).

Stephen has performed as soloist on notable concert series including the International Guitar Institute, Tennessee State University, Valdosta State University, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Following a concert at Carnegie Hall in 2010, the New York Times noted Stephen’s “unfazed” performance in a challenging program of 20th and 21st century works with the Grawemeyer Players. As recipient of the prestigious Theodore Presser Award, he recorded the complete guitar chamber works by Franz Schubert, which are available internationally in new critical editions through Chanterelle Verlag.

He enjoys a vibrant teaching career as Assistant Professor of Guitar at the University of Louisville, directing classical guitar studies and teaching music theory courses. A strong proponent for public music education, Stephen is Director of the University of Louisville’s Community Music Program where he fosters the development of diverse educational programs in music, instituting unique learning opportunities for music enthusiasts from all areas of society.

In addition to his performing and teaching engagements, Stephen is the Director of the University of Louisville Guitar Festival and Competition. Alongside this role, Stephen is President of the Louisville Guitar Society, which hosts a concert series and advocates for guitar education through outreach programs and civic initiatives. From 2007-10 Stephen worked for the Guitar Foundation of America as Development Director and Convention Manager.

Here he is playing a bit of Ponce and an extract of “Illusions” by Xi Fu Hang.

Interview:Vida Guitar Quartet in the shed with Bach and Elgar

Vida

The shed was graced with the Vida Guitar Quartet’s presence last November (2015) when they played selections from their then new CD “The Leaves be Green”.
Here are some samples from their gig and an interview!
It was a great party…

 

 

The Facts of Life – David Leisner at West Dean

David big head
When I first met David Leisner, he was helping guitarists to get over focal dystonia. He stayed and taught at my house, and was the first person to offer real hope to many guitarists who were suddenly struck by the focal dystonia. He had been through it himself and had subjected himself to all manner of therapies before working out a way through before any permanent damage was done. He is a very patient and encouraging teacher.

David and GG W Dean

David Leisner and GG

David and Marcin Dylla W Dean

David and Marcin Dylla

David teaching W Dean

David teaching

Now, he is back on form as one of the most innovative guitarists around, with a beautiful sound, solid technique and unerring musicianship.
He is also an exciting composer, hence an early epithet of “Triple-Threat performer, composer and teacher” bestowed by the New York Times.

Here is a revealing interview I did with him at this year’s West Dean Summer school, where he talks about dystonia, David del Tredici and performing. Shortly after this, he went on tour in China, where it seems he was a big hit.

Here is a link to his latest CD, Facts of Life featuring music by Bach, David del Tredici, and Golijov

About Time – Stephen Goss and Tetra’s Last Stand

At Iserlohn’s annual guitarfest this summer, I had the opportunity to talk to Stephen Goss about his busy composing schedule and the final concert of the Tetra Guitar Quartet, which he founded and has nourished over the last 26 years.
He is one of the busiest guitar composers around, but also writes for orchestra and other instruments.
I also managed to catch the last encore which the specially reconstituted Tetra Quartet played at this, their final ever performance.
A historic and triumphant, but sad occasion.

Here is the interview with Steve Goss, whom I have known since he was a young student with extremely short hair and an unflappable performing style (I remember a particularly unsubtle joke involving the Benjamin Britten Nocturnal and a condom at an early summer school of Steve Gordon’s in Prussia Cove in Cornwall. Goss carried on serenely…)

Here is the final encore – a Sevillana (!) by Elgar, with Stephen Goss, Carl Herring(flown in from Japan), Alan Neave(flown in from Glasgow) and ex-NYGE alumnus, Michael Button(flown in).

Here is an earlier incarnation of Tetra playing Goss’s wonderful compilation of Mahler tunes.

More on Tetra and a link to their 25th Anniversary CD-
About Time

Busking – a musician’s life for me

Max was given his first guitar at the age of nine, cost six guineas from the Bell Musical Catalogue. The first song he learnt to play was “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles. After playing in various local bands, in 1980 he moved to London to join street theatre group the Demolition Decorators, touring France and Holland with them. Whilst in London he also played in a number of musical/theatre projects at the Albany Empire, Tricycle Theatre Kilburn and others, and in London he also tried his hand at busking for the first time.Tiring of London, or possibly London tiring of him, he returned home to Oxford and has been there ever since

.

I recently had the good fortune to meet my old friend Johnny Hinkes who was busking on the streets of Oxford. We had worked on a session together many years ago and I was impressed by his ability to get into the meaning of the music we were playing as well as his reading and improvisational ability.
So why busk?
We had an interesting conversation about busking, playing for love or money,accompanying classical music,  Richard Rodney Bennett and “Stealing Bob Dylan from Woodstock: When the World Came to the Isle of Wight” by Ray Foulk, amongst other subjects.

Here are some more clips of Johnny playing



Here is a link to his CD Baby page
and a link to his webpage

A bit more about busking in Oxford

Statement on busking in Oxford city centre

Oxford City Council encourages busking in the city centre. It adds a great deal to the vibrant and exciting city centre experience that we all know and love. For the last decade, the City Council has had a Code of Practice that buskers are asked to agree to observe when they obtain a busking permit from the Council. The Code includes:

Not busking for more than 60 minutes in one place

Not obstructing the highway

Using amplification responsibly and maintaining a reasonable volume.

The aim of the Code has always been to create a level playing field for all buskers and to stop any nuisance to everyone else who uses the city centre – traders, local residents and visitors. We currently have no legal power to enforce this Code of Practice and have received complaints from traders, in particular, about buskers playing loudly and for long periods of time outside their shops, which is not fair to them.

The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) has been proposed in order to provide a legal power to take action against busking which leads to complaints from the public. In all cases, buskers will be asked to conform to the Code before any enforcement measures are used. 

The PSPO will allow the Police or designated Council officers to issue a £100 fine or, in the most extreme of cases, to take the person to court, which could result in a maximum fine of £1,000.

But the Order will also remove the current requirement to obtain a permit before busking. After the PSPO has been introduced, people wishing to busk will be able to do so without contacting us in any way. All they will need to do is adhere to the existing Code of Practice.

The measures proposed will therefore have no impact on the vast majority of buskers and will in fact make it easier for musicians to busk in Oxford city centre. We think the measures will help to improve the liveliness of the city centre.

Released on Wednesday 20 May 2015

Oxford City Council Leader Bob Price said: “Point three of the Code of Practice – to smile, enjoy yourself and entertain others – is there to encourage people to regard busking as fun, rather than just as a way to make money. “It is not an element of the Code that would be the subject of enforcement action.”

Quote added on Thursday 21 May
More links!

 Solo          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgD_fLYjeU8

 Solo           http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK6JM48NddQ&feature=related

Solo            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6K_xpGehGOA&feature=related

Solo            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvkEQPvz3PM&feature=related

Solo             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFHFyX0qnmg

  Max and Lewis                                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g71H2HPMwwc

  With SweetnSour Swing                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7LiPudxFV4

With SweetnSour Swing                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeiZnr8si2Q

With Sweetnsour Swing              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRMAj7_EYDk

Interview with Kenny Hill

I was in Iserlohn this summer and met American guitarist, luthier and composer Kenny Hill.
He is the third man who together with Alex Wang and Wolfgang Jellinghaus make up the driving power behind the Martinez Guitar Company.
I looked through a composition he had published, which Johannes Moller plays, and this seemed a good occasion to ask him his views on playing, making and writing.

Interview with Wolfgang Jellinghaus

Gerald and Wolfgang

I first met Wolfgang Jellinghaus in Chengdu, where he and i seemed to be the only ones capable of taking on a drinking challenge proposed by a couple of university administrators!
Needless to say, we beat them hollow (I think we did anyway – I seem to recall pitchers of Mou Tai being bandied about).
I learned that Wolfgang was one of the triumvirate who make up the Martinez guitar company, the other two being Chinese entrpreneur and luthier Alex Wang and Kenny Hill from America.
Wolfgang also produces his own brand of “Milestone” guitars, and I was lucky enough to grab an interview as he drove us to a concert at the Iserlohn Festival this year.

Alex in China

When I was in Chengdu recently, I had a fun time with Alex Wang, CEO and founder of Martinez guitars, and persuaded him to do an interview just before I left for Hong Kong.
Here is a little bit about Martinez guitars, which are sold worldwide. In between drinking competitions  I was astonished to discover that Martinez sold 70,000 guitars last year!
The new era of classic guitar producers were initiated when a talented China luthier, Mr. Alex Wang (the founder of Martinez brand) who learnt from the American luthier, Mr. Kenny Hill who trained & influenced many aspect of Martinez team for best practices based on the USA hand-made classic guitar making. The third influential person in this joint venture is a German luthier, Mr. Wolfgang Jellinghaus who fill in the role as the tone woods sourcing for the best of Martinez guitar sound.
In summary, the tradition of hand-made best practices from USA, the internationally trained China skills to assemble guitars in a modern guitar factory out of China and the sourcing capability for best tone woods out of Germany are the example of a globally integrated classic guitar brand, that is the Martinez Guitars ! This is another proof that the buzz word of “globally integrated company” were no longer dominated by the high-tech industry, it is happening in the classic guitar industry. The result is a new era classic guitar which inherited the “the hand-made guitar making” quality out of the modern guitars factory facility at the affordable price points. The consumers who buy these guitars will benefit the outcome of ‘globally integrated company’ concept.

Intrigued? I was, and will be visiting the factory very soon.

Mangoré – Los Ultimos Dias – The last days

image

The film is now in production!

Here is an interview with lead actor  Damián Alcázar with more clips from the film

And here is there trailer in English

Facebook page

More here

Here is an article in Spanish about the film.

Ana María Hernández Guerra reported this on her blog almost 2 years ago! Hopefully, it will be realised very soon.
“The president of El Salvador Gral. Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez was a great admirer of Barrios, calling him “One of the chosen ones”, whose artistic culture does great good for those who listen”. After a concert attended by dignataries(Including the Paraguayan ambassador), Gral. Martinez appointed him Professor of guitar at the national Conservatory, presenting him with a check, declaring that he must stay in the heart of America, El Salvador”.

In the meantime, you could just enjoy this!