Sometimes You Need Time Apart…

The word virtuoso is defined as, "a musician who is a consummate master of technique and artistry." or "… an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability at singing or playing a musical instrument."

When I decided to that I was going to be a serious (classical) musician, I regarded this word with esteem and respect. I saw the aspiration for virtuosity as a means of achieving self-actualization, and decided to dedicate my life towards this realization. However, like so many things, after six years of conservatory training the shine wore off this word and I fear that I have lost my reverence for the beautiful. After all, art is the habit of the artist. Nevertheless, it is my intent to use this platform to (re)discover, admire, and share music/musicians of the highest caliber, in any and all genres, strictly for the purpose of listening to Music worth listening to.

When I read Tiana's post about missing the piano after taking some time off, I knew exactly where she was coming from. As a musician I fundamentally define myself by my instrument – classical guitar. I love the all aspects of practicing and performing on this instrument; aural, physical, tactile, and conceptual, and these sounds, thoughts, and sensations are what keep driving me back to the craft day after day, year after year. Tiana and I had a short back and forth via our twitter accounts after I read her post and I offered her a few ideas for some new and hopefully exiting piano rep for her to dive into. One of which is a collection of pieces by the Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti. The work is a piano cycle which is broken into 11 movements. It is entitled Musica Ricercata.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard: III Allegro con Spirito – Musica Ricercata by Ligeti

The first movement of this work is composed using one primary pitch, A. In the second movement he focuses on using two pitches, the third uses three, and so on across all eleven movements which then fully engulfs all eleven chromatic pitches. What a cool concept right? And it works so well through the compositional language of Ligeti because the focus is shifted from melody to rhythm in his work anyways. The pianist is Pierre-Laurent Aimard and he is heard performing the third movement here.

Side note, the subtitle to one of the movements is Hoedown. I have always felt that this piano cycle should be re-imagined for bluegrass trio a la Nickel Creek and was pretty fired up when I found out that Ligeti might have had similar thoughts.

Gerald Garcia: Alfonsina y el Mar by Rameriez

I spent a recent six years at the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University studying my instrument. In retrospect it was a time of absolute immersion into the instrument, the repertoire, and the community of classical guitarists at large. But now I am a civilian again – living, working, bloggerin', and just trying to get by. I've found that one perk of this existence is that I am now afforded time to learn pieces that are not required to fit into some larger scheme. I can learn music simply for the sake of learning music again! This was somewhat of an unexpected relief in post-conservatory life and one I am really enjoying right now. I have always been a sucker for the slow movements and sentimental Latin melodies. This piece by Ariel Rameriez and performed by Gerald Garcia is just that and I've enjoy listening to it long enough. It's time to start enjoying playing it as well.

Le Grande Terrie – II Eclosion by Olivier Bensa

Aside from friends, the Dig, and my own sentimentality, I keep my practice drive up by performing alongside some wonderful musicians in the Atlantic Guitar Quartet. (Shameless self promo! Twitter, Facebook, Webpage) Right now we are gearing up for a new concert season by rehearsing a new concert program, commissioning new pieces, and exploring some lesser known gems from contemporary composers. It's been a hell of a ride. This week we will begin breaking ground on a very hip work from Olivier Bensa, La Grande Terre. The work is brooding, cool and explores extended techniques to get a whole new arsenal of sounds out of the guitar. I completely dig it. Aside from writing this composition he and his quartet are also the performers heard here. The man can most definitely walk it and talk it. 

Sometimes you need time apart from something to miss it, and you most definitely need catalysts in your life to keep the fires of motivation burning. You dig?