Will’s Way – Will McNicol in Chengdu

Will in Chengdu Global centre Will escalates

It was a happy coincidence that I bumped into Will McNicol in Chengdu when I was on my way to my Mum’s 96th birthday.

I was met at the airport by Will, Xu Bao and Joshua Jiao and rushed to a restaurant in an emergency food dash.

Will had been touring China with his own super charged yet gentle brand of acoustic music which he played on a new crossover guitar made by Martinez. This is a nylon strung instrument with a longer neck (the neck meets the body at the 14th fret) and a slightly shallower body. Will had just played in Chengdu the night before, following on from ten or more concerts throughout China, ably assisted by Josh.

After a wonderful lunch which culminated in the smashing of a wine glass while I was on a swing (don’t ask) we were joined by Alex Wang, CEO of Martinez. The following, slightly inebriated interview(s) discussing the future of the guitar in China, connections, Will’s music, life, the universe etc followed without further breakages .

A clip from Will’s latest recording
Dragonflies, Frogs and Bumblebees

Will was voted Acoustic Guitarist of the Year by Guitarist Magazine in 2011.
Here is his piece “The Wakeup”.

Lunch with Alex, Josh, Gerald, Will, Xu Bao

Susana and the Studenten Gitaar Ensemble Nederland, the Vickers Bovey duo and the OGS!

The Oxford Guitar Society had their annual concert with a difference in the church of St.Mary and St.Nicholas in Littlemore, Oxford yesterday, the 20th May 2018.

They were joined by the Studenten Gitaar Ensemble Nederland and their lively and enthusiastic conductor, Susana Opanski.

After some soulful playing of a Milonga and Roland Dyens’ arrangement of Alfonsina y el Mar, they did a wild and wickedly funny version of Libertango by Piazzolla.

They were then joined by Dan Bovey and Julian Vickers to play a version of Dowland’s Lachrimae with Sweelinck’s variations. What a wonderful sound!

This was followed by a standout performance of my “Lorca” concerto.

The SGEN gave it their all, complementing the wonderful virtuosity and fluidity of the soloists.

The tour

https://vickersbovey.co.uk/concerts/sgen-tour-utrecht/

Many thanks to Steve Greenslade and the OGS for making this such a memorable occasion!

We had a great time afterwards at the Tree Hotel in Iffley – it was a beautiful summer evening and the SGEN barely made it back int time to Oxford station to catch their train for their concert in London the next day.

I had a chance to chat to Susana, with whom I had a lot in common.

She believes that music connects us and that all cultures, ages and abilities have a common voice through this.

The Ensemble is made up of students and ex students of hers, some of whom are not professional musicians. They do not receive a grant and so feel free to play the repertoire they love.

Their enthusiasm and sense of belonging is infectious and evident in their performance.

Susana is convinced that music connects people and that playing an instrument plays an important role in the personal development of children and young people.

For more than 20 years Susana Opanski has been working as a guitar teacher at the Music School in Amersfoort. She also teaches at Muziek in de Wijk (Utrecht) Besides that she develops educational projects to bring children into contact with music.

In addition to being a guitarist, bassoonist and guitar teacher, Susana Opanski is also the founding conductor a of the Student Gitaar Ensemble Nederland (SGEN). Last year the ensemble released a CD thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

“The Leaves be Green” Interview with Timothy Bowers

After taking a break from the blog, there is now lots of new material.

I would like to start with this interview with the composer of a favourite piece with guitar quartets-
“The Leaves be Green”.

Bowers
The composer, Timothy Bowers, is a rather shadowy figure, but I managed to find him as he and I were the only ones raiding the drinks table at a reception for the Vida Quartet’s concert (featuring the ‘Full English’ on their eponymously titled CD, The Leaves Be Green) at King’s Place last year.


Timothy Bowers is Head of Undergraduate programmes at the Royal Academy of Music.
He is a versatile composer whose large output (approaching 100 pieces) includes works written for a wide range of instruments as soloists, including the series of six works commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music Brass department and published by Queen’s Temple Publications.
I was surprised to learn that he has written many guitar pieces, most of which are in manuscript, but some are available from Spartan Press.

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

Mangoré – Los Ultimos Dias – The last days

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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!

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.

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.