Simon Powis Concert

Last night we hosted Simon Powis at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Lancaster. This was my first attempt to put my Bill Graham hat on and organize a concert and I would say that while there were some things I learned from doing the show, overall it went smoothly and a good time was had by all.

The audience was made up of three main groups:

  • Lancaster residents who read the story in the LNP papers (there is a link here, although I am not sure how long it will remain outside their paywall)
  • Members of the Classical Guitar Society of Lancaster
  • Visiting members of the Classical Guitar Corner, a group who traveled here from Texas, Rhode Island, Maryland and Delaware to attend the concert. This is Simon’s online school and the students are very enthused.

There were about 50 people in attendance – a tad smaller than I had hoped for, but overall a good turnout, and I am told it was on a par with similar events in New York City (something which went a long way to making me feel good about the audience size).

I will not repost more info on Simon, but simply say that his performance was as good or better than you have seen in various YouTube videos of his playing. His interpretations of the music are personal and very in keeping with the what I imagine are the intentions of the composers.

The program consisted of a diverse selection that spanned music from the Baroque to modern guitar music from South America and Europe. The playlist for the concert is here:

Domenico Scarlatti (1685 – 1757)

  • Sonata K. 322 (arr. Powis)
  • Sonata K. 208 (arr. Powis)

Armand Coeck (1941)

  • Constellations

J.S Bach (1685–1750)

  • Prelude BWV 999
  • Fugue BWV 1001 (arr. Powis)

Intermission

Roland Dyens (1955 – 2016)

  • Libra Sonatine
  • India, Largo, Fuoco

Agustín Barrios Mangoré (1885 – 1944)

  • Vals 3
  • Julia Floria
  • Vals 4

Jose Luis Merlin (1952)

  • Suite del Recuerdo

1. Evocation 

2. Zamba 

3. Chacarera 

4. Carnavalito

5. Joropo

In addition to his excellent playing, Simon also explained some of the history, originals and context of the music so the audience was aware of how the music fit into the canon of music for the guitar.

Here’s to Simon. We will now look forward to our next CLSL concert!

Friday Night Salon

Last Friday we tried something new for the society (or at least new for ME in the society). I sent an invitation out that read in part:

An utterly informal get together to meet, greet and chat within the society. If you would like to bring your guitar and show something you are working on, by all means. If you do not, then don’t feel any pressure.

We ended up with 7 guitarists sitting around my living room. We started the evening with some wine and snacks, but then the “real business” of the evening got started. A guitar was taken out, a song was played and it was passed from member to member until it got around the room. There was some Villa-Lobos, some Tarrega, some Lauro, and a lot of appreciative applause.

A couple of things became apparent immediately.

I suppose the first is that we have some really good guitarists in the society! More importantly I think, was that people wanted to share, they wanted practice playing in front of people, not just practicing in a room all alone.

The next was the sheer joy of playing that was in everyone’s face. I swear that for some of the players, had I turned off the lights, their smiles would have lit up the room. I think one of the paradoxes of classical guitar is that players need to spend a lot of time alone practicing – practicing drills, practicing pieces that are already memorized to keep from forgetting, practicing new pieces that are not quite there yet. The one type of practice that is not done enough is practicing in front of other people because the opportunities are not there so readily.

The music circled the room several times more. Some folks played duets they had been working on. I think I heard some samba and some Hot Tuna. There was more Villa-Lobos and some Llobet. At the start of the evening I wondered if anyone would show up and it they would have fun. At the end, the music kept going until it was well past my normal bedtime. There seemed to be a desire to hold on to what was happening.

I think the best comment of the evening was when one of our members, on the way out the door, said “this was a pretty good turnout, considering that this was the first one of these.”  I guess that puts me on notice to have another.