Music for a movie

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.

Interview with Nejc Kuhar

Nejc 1 Nejc 2 All Souls University Registry GG and Nejcs

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

Composing in real time


Black Hole

Hommage a Erik Satie

Django Reinhardt demonstrates his guitar genius in rare footage from the 1930s, 40s & 50s

Thanks to Open Culture and Josh Jones for this:

Reinhardt and jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France in 1934, and in the forties, Reinhardt began composing, and toured England, Switzerland, and the U.S. as a soloist with Duke Ellington’s band. He recorded his final album, Djangology in 1949, retired in 51, and died in 53, already a legend, “one of the few European musicians to exert a serious influence on the American art form of jazz,” writes an NPR “Weekend Edition” profile. Django’s playing, “at times joyous, fierce and lyrical,” draws heavily on his Roma roots while mastering the vocabulary of swing—a language, it seems, still new to many audiences in 1938, when the film at the top of the post, Jazz “Hot,” was made.

Related Content:

Jazz ‘Hot’: The Rare 1938 Short Film With Jazz Legend Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt and the Inspiring Story Behind His Guitar Technique

Concerto Romantico for violin and guitar – ?epinskis-Krinicin Duo and the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra

Vilhelmas and Sergej

In 2002, I was invited to write a concerto for the Christée-Baldissera violin and guitar duo. This was performed in the German town of Bad Munder.
I finished the piece in a couple of weeks and heard nothing from the duo or the conductor for weeks. Jeanne Christée requested a more virtuosic final movement which I rewrote as a tango and battle between the soloists and the orchestra!
Finally I received an invitation to attend the concert and worked out how get to Bad Munder.

It was quite a journey, compositionally and geographically.
Alison and I got off a train at Bad Munder to find the station was in the middle of the countryside with no clue as to where the town was. Far away on the horizon there was a steeple, so we headed out towards it across snowy fields. It was indeed the town, but there was absolutely no one around.
I had never heard the duo and luckily they had the music down to a tee despite problems with the guitar amplification. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the snowy ghost town. It was beautiful, with traditional north German wooden houses.
In the evening, there were suddenly hundreds of people attending the concert – where had they all come from?

Many years later, my friend Sergej Krinicin of the Baltic Guitar Quartet asked if he could play the piece – he had a duo with the violin virtuoso, Vilhelmas Cepinskis.
Vilhelmas wanted the concerto rewritten for symphony orchestra, but it was originally conceived for strings! We finally agreed it should be played in its original form, and the concert was given in February 2013 but the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Bokor.
This was a big concert which was televised, and I managed t get an audio recording of the whole piece.

Here is the middle movement:

Here is the audio of the complete concerto

National Youth Guitar Ensemble – auditions – calling all teachers in the UK

NYGE logo

The National Youth Guitar Ensemble is currently looking for young talented guitarists who have a passion for performing and interacting with like-minded musicians to audition for the ensemble’s 2015 courses.

If you know of a gifted guitarist aged 13-18 years old, that is of at least grade 6 standard then NYGE would love to hear from them.

Details below
Link to the audition flyer :

Excerpts from last summer’s concert with the Vida Quartet
Cuerda Pa’rato arr. Louis Trépanier

Spectral Dreams by Gerald Garcia

Auditions are taking place in January at the following venues:

11th Jan: London – Royal Academy of Music

24th Jan: Manchester – Chetham’s School of Music

31st Jan: Birmingham – Edgbaston High School for Girls

The National Youth Guitar Ensemble offers the highest standard of ensemble training in the UK to young aspiring guitarists. Directed by guitarist/composer Gerald Garcia, the NYGE is currently made up of twenty four of the UK’s finest young guitarists. 

Successful candidates are invited to attend two residential courses per year. Bursaries are available to students in financial difficulty.  

Applicants need to be 13 – 18 years old on the 1st September 2015 and the equivalent standard of grade six or above.


For late applications please email the Co-ordinator for availability.


Successful applicants are invited to attend two residential courses at Easter and in the summer led by Musical Director Gerald Garcia. The VIDA Guitar Quartet performed with NYGE for the 2014 concert season. Other past artists and conductors with NYGE include Leo Brouwer, Gary Ryan, Chris Susans, Carl Herring, Belinda Evans and Keith Fairbairn.
Bursaries for the courses are offered in cases of need.


Applicants can apply for an audition online here


More videos here


Triple Fret – Gitara Filipina

  Beauty. Youth. Talent. Passion Marga Abejo, Iqui Vinculado and Jenny de Vera are Triple Fret, the only all-female classical guitar trio in the Philippines. They have captivated the hearts of music lovers all over with their refreshing brand of music, performance, and love for the classical guitar. Their goal is to transcend barriers of different social class, culture, and religion, to truly bring the joy of music to all. Formally trained in the premiere music schools of the country, Triple Fret stands out with their extensive repertoire of Spanish, Filipino traditional, and well-loved classical pieces, all infused with a style uniquely their own.
Gitara Filipina

So the write up goes, and I have to agree. I was lucky enough to meet and listen to this talented trio in a recent visit to Hong Kong where they were playing at Music City. Their enthusiasm and love of the guitar comes through in their playing and the way they are so open and excited by other performers and teachers. David Russell’s appearance was a source of a flurry of photo snapping! Being of Filipino descent myself I was particularly interested in the way they included Filipino music into their programmes and their wish to make this music more well known around the world with the help of expert arranger, Jeffrey S. Malazo. While I was there, Jenny and Jeffrey were engaged! We had just had an amazing meal in a Japanese restaurant with sashimi, sushi and Korean barbecue (pretty protein rich meal). It was also Jeffrey’s birthday and the enterprising restaurant owners made him a cake consisting of sushi rice and shrimp eggs. Here are some clips of Triple Fret’s concert in Music City, plus a short interview I made with them.

Here is an interview about their debut album “Gitara Filipina”

Here is an interesting article with more music from VerJube Photographics

Berta Rojas with Triple Fret live in Manila and Cebu

LAGQ play Spring Snow by Gerald Garcia


This piece is one of a set of three Chinese pieces which the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet asked me to write on hearing the news that they were to visit China in 2008.
“Spring Snow” is a traditional pipa solo (the pipa is a plucked instrument which ended up in China, having begun its journey in the Middle East) from the 14th century and is almost monothematic in structure, with an obsessive four bar riff which branches out in many directions later on in the piece.
I have turned it into a chamber work by adding several sections and elongating others as well as introducing a percussive element which is implied in the original. The work requires extensive use of pipa techniques such as tremolo, crossed string percussive effects and heavy string bending.
The first performance of this piece was dedicated to Prof Chen Zhi of Central Conservatoire, Beijing.
LAGQ have since performed it many times as part of their “World set” this season.

Bill Kanengiser has also arranged some of this on solo guitar.

See this video by Guy Traviss, after I worked on the piece with Bill in a spare moment snatched from our busy schedules at Iserlohn 2014.


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.