Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Classical Guitar Rocks

By Misty L. Harris

I always considered the guitar a rock instrument. The eternal companion of Hendrix, Prince, B.B.King, George Benson, Johnny Guitar Watson and the heavy metal bands of the 80s and 90s. For me it was a thing of wonder. Like countless others,  I play a mean air guitar (I’ve won several Grammys in my head). It’s the rebel’s instrument! (along with leather pants, big hair and the Blues).  This grandiose stereotype ended when I heard and saw JoAnn Falletta play her guitar in Allen Hall at a private event hosted by the station I worked at, WBFO-FM 88.7. At the time, I knew her only as the conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. I was unaware of the other talents she held. That evening, Ms. Falletta performed with a trio of guitarist in a delightful concert that exhumed a pleasantry that I had never experienced with this instrument. Classical guitar! What a tranquil experience.

I’m sure you know the popular piece Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez. That’s my favorite. I first came in “contact” with this piece a few years ago while attending the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo.  An event, like classical guitar, I knew little about. Classical guitarists from all over the world submitted their entries to take part in this acclaimed competition.

Performing against each other and with the BPO for the ultimate title. The competition began in 2004 and has drawn music enthusiasts from all over the country, if not the world. The event includes two semifinal performances (this year held at the WNED Studios in downtown Buffalo) and the final concert at Kleinhans Music Hall. The competition also reaches out to the community with Guitar Days, a series of free performances throughout WNY by guitarists from all over the world.  The Competition is more than just a competition. It’s more of a celebration. A proclamation that classical guitar is alive and well!

What do you know about classical guitar? How many pieces can you name(can't use Rodrigo. I already did!)? If you can’t, I suggest you take part in the Competition. Attend Guitar Days . Come to the semifinals. You’ll see music in the form of art by the artist Hugo as well. Interact with other classical guitar lovers. Get to know the softer side of the guitar. Event locations, fun facts, information on the competition and more is available here. Or join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

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