BYGO with Craig Ogden at the Newbury Festival

Group with GG SC AB CO

Gerald, Steve Christmas, Alison Bendy and Craig

Steve C and Craig

Steve Christmas and Craig Ogden

BYGO and Craig

Craig Ogden and BYGO

Family Concert with Craig Ogden and the Berkshire Youth Guitar Orchestra Sunday 11th May

Under the direction of Steve Christmas and Berkshire Maestros BYGO has established a national and indeed international reputation for excellence.
This was their Festival debut with star soloist Craig Ogden.

The BYGO played South American Dances by Ginastera and Rodriguez, Irish Folk Songs and three Gershwin Preludes. Craig’s solo pieces were by Gary Ryan, Albeniz and Tarrega and Craig and the BYGO came together to play Gerald Garcia’s Le Grazie Concerto for guitar and guitar orchestra.

This was a fine performance under the sure baton of Steve Christmas.
Craig played two pieces by Gary Ryan, including the ubiquitous “Rondo Rodeo” (probably the definitive performance!), and also “Recuerdos de la Alhambra”, “Asturias” and “Sevilla” – squarely aimed at a family audience then!
The orchestra played Gershwin, Ginastera, a duple of Irish arrangements and Le Grazie.
In all, a brilliant performance by any standard from both the soloist and the ensemble.
The video clip below is of an excerpt of their encore of the first movement of Le Grazie.

Le Grazie was originally written for string trio (2 violins and Cello) and guitar as a companion to the Vivaldi D major “lute” concerto.
It was originally performed by its dedicatee Alison Bendy with students from Wheatley Park School in 2001 and has since been a favourite at summer schools in an arrangement for solo guitar and guitar orchestra. It has been performed numerous times all over the world and was conducted by the composer in the 2nd Swedish “Guitar instead of Guns” Gala in 2002 with, amongst others Zoran Dukic, Roland Dyens and Wolfgang Lendle in the orchestra!

It is in three movements in the form of an Italian concerto and the movements are :
Night Sounds (tempo di boogie woogie – homage to Fats Waller)
Clear Day (homage to Vivaldi)
Star Rise (homage to Michael Tippett)

Greater than the sum of its parts

I happen to think that the sound of a guitar orchestra is special, that it is a sound world of its own and there is a sound that no other instruments en masse can reproduce.
There are many who disagree with me, who, through experience of bad ensembles, think that guitar orchestra is synonymous with out of tune, imprecise, unmusical quasi-ensemble.
Duelling Guitars

 

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NYGE 2013

On the final leg of my summer school/teaching junket, it’s yet another acronym but one that many are familiar with – the National Youth Guitar Ensemble, which I have been conducting since 2005 when arranger and 19thC guitar supremo Chris Susans stepped down in order to be administrator.
NYGE poster

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When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat As One

When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat As One
“it took almost no time at all for the singers’ heart rates to become synchronized. The readout from the pulse monitors starts as a jumble of jagged lines, but quickly becomes a series of uniform peaks. The heart rates fall into a shared rhythm guided by the song’s tempo

This has been around a while now, but is still interesting. I wonder if anyone has measured heart rates of supporters at a football or tennis match.
Do guitar ensemble players live longer than soloists? (Only if they follow the conductor!)
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Spectral Dreams : Concerto

First Performance at GFA Louisville Kentucky on Sunday!
Tantalus quartet and Gerald Garcia with the GFA orchestra

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FGS

JFCAHBBH!? Another acronym?

More guitarists playing together – in this case, 50 of them, from different guitar societies across the UK. The Federation of Guitar Societies

I had the privilege of meeting these dedicated souls,

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BYGO

Not some fancy way of saying to bring your own drink on a party invitation, but this is the Berkshire Youth Guitar Orchestra, whose genial conductor, Steve Christmas, invited me to their Wigmore Hall recital in London today.

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Duo Flamas and Guitar group Alegria conducted by Marleen Casteele

I am probably biased posting this, but this is a recent fine performance in Cambridge by the Belgian Duo Flamas of my “Lorca” Concerto, based very loosely on Spanish songs collected by the poet and musician, Federico Garcia Lorca. Continue reading