Friday, April 18, 2014

Guitar Ensemble: Director's Preview

This year, the HSU Guitar Ensemble has been focusing on world music. The guitar is a main element in so many musical styles and cultures, and we will actually be representing all seven continents in this concert in one way or another (the pieces representing Antarctica were actually written by a famous American band who played a concert there, but it’s as close as we’re going to get!) We will perform famous compositions, modern works by living composers, arrangements of folk music, and do a little improvising as well.

Students took the initiative to put together a few of the pieces on their own, including arrangements of Jazz, Blues, and Metal pieces. The concert will also feature an octet by the contemporary French composer, Roland Dyens, which incorporates a wide range of styles. This is one of the largest groups we have had involved in one piece, and it has been a major undertaking; each player’s part is on the technical and musical level of a big solo piece, and putting it all together with the big group has been challenging but also a lot of fun. This may also be the last concert for this talented group of guitarists since several will be graduating, and a few of the alumni performing with us may be moving on as well. I think this piece is a great way to culminate their time here as a part of the HSU Guitar Ensemble and studio, and I am really looking forward to sharing the stage with them for that.

There are also a few “non-Western” pieces on the program. The piece based on African music was written by an Eastern European composer who is heavily involved with World Music; he is also one of my old guitar teachers from my years at the SF Conservatory of Music. There are two pieces from Asia – one is a fusion of Japanese folk songs and Western compositional practices, and the other imitates Indonesian Gamelan percussion orchestras both in terms of the actual music and by creating a surprisingly similar timbre using prepared guitar techniques.

--Nicholas Lambson

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