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.

Mr.Naxos – interview with Klaus Heymann

Klaus Heymann

On Monday, May 18th, 2015, at a ceremony at Yale School of Music, Naxos Chairman and owner Klaus Heymann was presented with the prestigious Samuel Simons Sanford Award. Previous winners include Yo-Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich, Isaac Stern, Alfred Brendel, Emanuel Ax, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Aaron Copland, Pierre Boulez, Sir George Solti, Eugene Ormandy, and Juilliard President Joseph Polisi.
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I have known Klaus for many years – my first recording was with his wife, violinist Takako Nishizaki in 1985 – it is a collection of Chinese melodies for violin and guitar. This was first issued as an LP on HK Records and subsequently reissued on the Marco Polo label.
We recorded at the Gulbenkian Institute in Lisbon, and I have fond memories of Klaus helping to carry our bags so we wouldn’t damage our hands! I mention this because, since those days, Naxos was founded and one of the guiding lights in the selection process has been Takako.

Since then, I went on to record several CDs for Naxos and have recently produced a CD in China of the prodigy Kuang Junhong.
Naxos has gone from strength to strength and is a pioneer in the streaming of classical music via the Naxos Music Library. They now also have the ability to print CDs in smaller quantities and are establishing a classical music database.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Klaus Heymann has won an award, but he is particularly proud of this one.

Recently I was in Hong Kong, and had a chance to talk to Klaus about his latest award, his attitude to recording and digital distribution, and Naxos’ importance in the promotion of the classical guitar.

Xu’s Shops

What job do you do after graduating in classical guitar?

When I first visited Chengdu two years ago, I was surprised that the professor at the conservatory, Xu Bao also ran a music shop.
I learned that this was a place his more advanced students could teach and it was a general meeting place for the increasing number of students he had.
There were also guitars for sale.
On this present visit, he had just opened a new shop, a hundred yards down from the previous one, but I also discovered that there were another two shops in other areas of Chengdu.
They all sold relatively expensive guitars from Altamira, Martinez and Milestone.
Overall, there were around 300 students and each shop was managed and part owned by one of Xu Bao’s students.
Intrigued, I wanted to find out why there was such a demand for guitar studios, their function in the life of students who have finished their studies and how Xu Bao manages to sell higher quality and more expensive guitars to his students.
The studio/shops themselves were also an interesting design, incorporating lots of open space and making use of all the space that was available.
In the following interview, I was ably assisted by one of Xu Bao’s former students, Wenjun Qi, who is now studying with Bill Kanengiser in Los Angeles.

Fernando Sor : Sinfonía No. 1

We know that Sor studied music seriously and wrote works for instruments other than guitar – so how many of have actually heard any of his other music?

Here is a recording by Sir Neville Marriner of his first symphony. More on iTunes

  • Sinfonía No. 1 in C Major: I. Largo – Allegro assai” by Orquestra de Cadaqués, Sir Neville Marriner, Orquestra de Cadaqués, Sir Neville Marriner

And here is some piano music played by Josep Maria Roger.

Catching Up with Julian Bream: The Legendary Master Looks Back

Some new insights from Julian Bream, courtesy of the refurbished Classical Guitar Magazine. A fine interview by Thérèse Wassily Saba adapted from the December 2014 issue of Classical Guitar. Julian Bream was in the first ever issue of Classical Guitar in 1982.

Sorry to see that it (Classical Guitar) has left the UK for greener pastures, but happy that it will be invigorated. It has been an old friend!

National Youth Guitar Ensemble play original music at SJE

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The National Youth Guitar Ensemble are performing at St.John the Evangelist, Oxford,UK on the 9th of April 2015.

The programme will consist of original compositions for guitar ensemble including:

Leo Brouwer – Acerca del cielo, el aire y la sonrisa

Gary Ryan – Flower of the Field

Shingo Fujii – Quatro Ritornelli

Gerald Garcia/Mozart – Wiegen and K.546

Carlo Domeniconi – Oyun

Celso Machado – Folguedo

Previous to this concert they will be playing on 8th April, 6.00pm at the Thomson Hall in Abbots Bromley School, Stafford.

Classical Guitar Beats


You may have read my interviews and posts with the extraordinary guitarist and enquiring mind, Jorge Caballero.

He and his wife Maggie have started a new project – Classical Guitar Beats – here is the intro

Welcome to Guitar Beats! This site is dedicated to the study of Classical Guitar, using advanced and innovative methodology. Our approach is innovative in that  total exploration of the psyche (mind, body) is employed to achieve mastery of the guitar. This pedagogical method is universal: its methods can be directly transferred and applied to other instruments and disciplines. Simply stated, our goal is to provide all levels of music students the tools to learn and progress.

 

The site provides fascinating insights into such vexing subjects as the collapsible joint rest stroke, semi-rest-stroke free stroke and the downward push free stroke,
Find out more by visiting the site which has a monthly feature.
Here are also my interviews in Iserlohn with Jorge.

Sean Shibe

Sean Shibe was born in Edinburgh in 1992, and is currently studying guitar at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, under Allan Neave. His musical education was grounded in the Scottish National Centres of Excellence from the age of 9, firstly in the City of Edinburgh Music School. Shortly after turning 14 he moved to the Aberdeen City Music School to commence study under Allan Neave. When 15 years old he auditioned for music conservatoires, receiving scholarship offers from the RSAMD, Trinity College, and the Royal College of Music in London. He received his ABRSM Diploma (perf.) with distinction in the Summer before assuming his place in the RSAMD, as the youngest musician to ever enter the establishment. Upon graduating he received honours of the first class.

He has worked with such groups as the Barbirolli Quartet, the Scottish Flute Trio and Scottish Opera, and is in regular demand as a soloist from guitar festivals around the United Kingdom, having performed at Dundee Guitar Festival, Big Guitar Weekend and Ullapool Guitar Festival. In 2009, he was invited by West Dean International Classical Guitar Festival to perform the first movement of the Brouwer Sonata to the maestro himself. In addition to these invitations, he has performed recitals and as a concerto soloist to critical acclaim in the United Kingdom, China, Holland, Germany, Liechtenstein and has featured on the BBC and European television and radio.

He regularly collaborates with composers in reworkings and new compositions to consistent critical acclaim, so far having premiered seven new works. These include a reworking of Jacob’s Ladder by Halfidi Hallgrimsson (Icelandic Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence) in his first recital series in the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In the annual PLUG new music festival of 2009, his premiere of Marek Pascienczny’s Sequenza for guitar solo was reviewed as: “pure magic…the best acoustic guitarist I have ever heard…Sean Shibe…remember the name, one day he will be famous” (Michael Tumelty, The Herald).

He also competes on an international level – in 2008, aged 16, he was a finalist in the first senior competition he entered, “Westfalian Guitar Spring” in Germany, and later that year received the Chanterelle Guitar Prize. The following year he won the Royal Over-Seas League Len Lickorish Award for a String Player of Promise, was awarded second place in the LiGiTa Liechtenstein International Guitar Competition and Festival, and first prize in the Ivor Mairants Guitar Award of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. In November 2010 he won the North East Scotland Classical Guitar Society Award, and 3 months later, in London, won the String Section Final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition. In May 2011 he was awarded 3rd prize in the Anna Amalia Guitar competition in Weimar and 2 weeks later became only the second guitarist ever to win the Royal Over-Seas League first prize and gold medal. In February 2012, following nomination and shortlisting, he became the only solo guitarist to have received a Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship. Highlights of this season have included a Wigmore Hall debut and sell-out performances at the East Neuk and Brighton Festivals. Later this year he will make his debut with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, performing Rodrigo’s Concierto De Aranjuez under Andrew Manze.

I first met Sean when he joined NYGE in 2005. He was around 4’8”when we first met.
He is now an artist of growing stature.

If you can receive BBC playback, this is a great link to listen to his work as a BBC new generation artist.Here is a link to an interview in the Scotsman.

Some videos


Interview