Many interviews with classical guitarists inevitably lead to the same looking-ahead question: How can we get more people interested in classical guitar?
It’s an obvious question because, let’s face it – some of the stuff you read about classical guitar can be a little dry. After all, most of us don’t know why it’s important to have studied under Felipe Sosa, we aren’t sure whether to be impressed that someone has performed at the Caramoor Festival, and we don’t know about the academic achievements of the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles.
Those credentials, boasted by some of the musicians performing at this year’s La Guitarra California Festival at Cal Poly, Sept. 6-8, are probably interesting – to those in the classical guitar world. But to the rest of us . . .
But classical guitar can be interesting if you dig a little further.
Here are 10 interesting things about some of the performers at this year’s festival, which features concerts, master classes, lectures and guitar maker exhibits.
- The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’s first tour entailed gigs at 48 schools in rural Mexico with no translator. During the 5-week tour, arranged by the Los Angeles cultural affairs department, one of their concerts was overrun by a flock of birds. “It was just awrrk, awrrk, awrrk,” quartet member John Dearman told USC’s “Trojan Family Magazine.” “These birds were going nuts! They drowned us out completely.”
At another show during the tour, they performed in an adobe church, where roosting pigeons turned the quartet into targets for their droppings.
“He didn’t want to sell it, unfortunately,” Rojas told the Austin American-Statesman. “Maybe some day I’ll be able to buy it.”
Rojas’ great-grandmother – originally from Switzerland – played guitar while her great-grandfather, Wilhelm, played violin.
“Pyromania” did not make his list of CDs he couldn’t do without, but Steely Dan and the Beatles joined Beethoven and Stravinsky in his favorites.
“There’s something about the challenge and the rewards of playing the lines and the voices of classical guitar,” she told the Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, FL).
She did initially want to play cello, but her mother said it was too big to carry to school. So she opted for guitar – at age 6.
“Now I always pay Berta a visit when I go home,” Rojas, a performer and professor of guitar at George Washington University, told the American-Statesman. “It’s part of the ritual.”
“We would normally start recording around 10 p.m. because there are no outside noises at that time, other than maybe a scooter or the settling of the ancient wood that would at times force us to do another take,” he told Los Angeles Classical Guitars.
“He tried to learn it, but after about three months he gave up,” Kanengiser said. “I said, ‘Oh, I’d like to try that.’”
While his love for guitar stuck – his first guitar did not.
“We played El Kabong one day on the back porch, and I smashed it,” he said. “It deserved to be smashed. It was coming apart, as one might expect.”
The first guitar lick he ever learned was from James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”
“Then later on I got really into Yes,” he said.