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”.
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.
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 Leisner and GG
David and Marcin Dylla
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
At Iserlohn’s annual guitarfest this summer, I had the opportunity to talk to Stephen Gossabout 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.
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”.
Some time ago,Les Frères Méduses, Randall Avers and Benoit Albert, came and played a stunning gig in the shed. Their reason for coming to the UK from Norway and France was to rehearse music for the film –
• live music performed to Tod Browning’s classic silent film “the Unknown (1927)”
• LFM score including music by Ravel, Granados and DeFalla
• violin and 2 guitars
The score was co-commissioned in 2012 by The Austin Classical Guitar Society and the Alamo Draft House and premiered at the Laguna Gloria in Austin.
It received a nomination for Best Chamber Music Performance by the Austin Critics Roundtable.
Here is a link to the performance
Randall Avers/Benoit Albert, guitars
William Fedkenheuer, violin
Todd Waldron, audio
Arlen Nydam, camera, film editing.
Last month, Nejc Kuhar (that’s pronounced Nates Kuhar) visited me in Oxford.
I first met this genial Slovenian composer and guitarist at the Iserlohn Festival and was impressed by his playing and general quiet but friendly manner.
He has been composing up a storm since I last met him, and I too the opportunity to quiz him over a pint in the famous Kings Arms pub in central Oxford. He is very tall and had to stoop to get in the snug at the back. We talked about the reason for his visit to the UK, his attitude to composition and his studies with Alvaro Pierri.
Here are some videos of Nejc playing and composing