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by Mike Telin

Vieaux-Jason“This week’s concert is going to be really great,” classical guitarist Jason Vieaux exclaimed during a recent telephone conversation. On Saturday, September 27, beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society will begin its International Series. And in keeping with tradition, the series will kick off with a free Showcase Concert.

Francois Fowler (Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University) will open the program with two of his own compositions, Meditation (2010) and Wavelength Sonata (2013). Robert Gruca will continue the program with music from the baroque era with David Russell’s arrangement of Jean-Baptiste Loeillet’s Suite No. 1. Jason Vieaux, (Cleveland and Curtis Institutes of Music) will conclude the evening with music by Metheny, Jobim, Tarrega and Merlin.

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by James Flood

Russell-DavidThe Cleveland Classical Guitar Society (CCGS) concluded its 2013-2014 season on Saturday evening, March 29 at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights with a performance by the celebrated guitarist, David Russell. Within the span of just four years, under the direction of Erik Mann, the CCGS has gone from offering a handful of small local events per year to presenting high-profile international performers like Grammy-award winning David Russell, arguably the best classical guitarist in the world.

David Russell was born in Scotland and now resides in Spain. He has a unique connection to Cleveland in that for the last 20 years he’s been recording with the Cleveland-based Telarc International. And one extra piece of trivia: Russell is a devoted and accomplished golfer, having won amateur tournaments.

Despite adverse weather conditions, the audience was nonetheless sizable, and judging by its enthusiasm when Russell took the stage it was apparent that he enjoys a base of devoted fans.

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by Mike Telin

Russell-DavidOn Saturday, March 29 beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church, Cleveland Classical Guitar Society presents internationally acclaimed classical guitarist David Russell in a concert featuring works by Giuliani, Scarlatti, Granados, Bach and Albéniz. At 6:45 students from the CCGS education program will perform a program under the direction of Teaching Artist Mike McNamara.

Considered one of today’s preeminent musical performers, David Russell received a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra) for his 2004 recording of “Aire Latino.” His many additional awards include being named a Fellow of The Royal Academy of Music in London and having a conservatory hall and a street in Spain named after him.

While preparing for our conversation I read a number of interviews with David Russell and nearly all the interviewers commented on what a genuinely nice, down to earth guy he is. And I must concur. I reached David Russell by telephone in San Francisco and began by asking him about how he makes his programming decisions.

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by Timothy Robson

Davin-GomezSoprano Estelí Gomez and classical guitarist Colin Davin presented a splendid and fascinating program on Saturday, February 22, at Plymouth Church, sponsored by the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society. The program was a belated tribute to the Benjamin Britten centennial celebration, but was, in fact, as much a tribute to Peter Pears, tenor and Britten’s life partner, and Julian Bream, guitarist, lutenist, and a long-time recital collaborator with Pears.

The two also presented an arresting new work by Caroline Shaw, which easily could have fit into a Pears/Bream recital program. Colin Davin closed the program with Britten’s only solo guitar work, Nocturnal after John Dowland, op. 70, composed for Julian Bream and first performed by him in 1964.

Under the title “Ancient Melodies, Modern Echoes,” Davin and Gomez alternated lute songs by Elizabethan composer John Dowland with songs from Britten’s cycle Songs from the Chinese, op. 58, which was written for Pears and Bream. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Davin-GomezI love working with Estelí and Colin because they are that wonderful combination of brilliant musicianship and enthusiastic personality,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw. They are both musicians that I admire and respect so much. And we all just get along!”

On Saturday, February 22 beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society presents soprano Estelí Gomez and classical guitarist Colin Davin.The program, “Ancient Melodies, Modern Echoes” includes music by Dowland, Britten and Caroline Shaw. The concert is part of the CCGS’s International Series.

The story of how the three came to be friends and collaborators is fitting for a television movie and begins well before Caroline Shaw won the 2013 Pulitzer. And before Shaw and Gomez became Grammy winners as members of the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth.

Caroline and I worked together with a composer who writes Rap cantatas. It’s kind of a modern meets baroque meets hip-hop mash-up,” recalls Davin. “We did the business card trade, and I went to her website and started listening to some of her music.”

Shaw and Gomez first met while doing their undergraduate studies at Yale, “at the time she was doing her violin degree,” Gomez said, “then we met again as members of Roomful of Teeth.” And it was after a Roomful of Teeth performance at Lincoln Center that Shaw introduced Gomez and Davin to each other. Read the rest of this entry »

by James Flood

Beijing-Guitar-DuoDespite Saturday’s prodigious snow, a decent-sized crowd braved hazardous road conditions to greet the Beijing Guitar Duo for their Cleveland appearance. As the snow swirled outside Plymouth Church UCC, the duo warmed the audience with an engaging performance.

Duo members Meng Su and Yameng Wang opened the program with transcriptions of four Domenico Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas. The Beijing Guitar Duo’s warm, gentle, yet full-bodied tone brought an ease and naturalness throughout the four works. In the opening K.173, L. 447 in G minor, their keen sense of phrasing gave the piece an undulating quality. In the second and fourth sonatas of the set (K. 45, L. 265 in D Major, K.151, L. 422 in D minor) Su and Wang established their status as virtuosi with exceptionally fast and effortless scales which moved simultaneously, executed in perfect lockstep between the two. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Beijing-Guitar-DuoFollowing their May of 2011 performance at Classical Guitar Weekend, ClevelandClassical wrote: “The Beijing Guitar Duo’s recital…was a musically stunning lesson in ensemble playing. Like concentric circles, Meng Su and Yameng Wang performed from a common center: articulations, tonal colors, crescendos, decrescendos, whether jointly or individually were perfectly matched…”

On Saturday, January 25 beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church, the Beijing Guitar Duo returns to Northeast Ohio for a performance on the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society’s International Series. The concert features music of Domenico Scarlatti, Tan Dun, Giulio Regondi, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Granados and Piazzolla. A pre-concert demonstration of traditional Chinese painting will be given by Jerry Wang.

We are very excited to be returning to Cleveland,” Meng Su told us by telephone from Baltimore. “We’re especially looking forward to playing Tan Dun’s Eight Memories in Watercolor,’ recalling a visit that she, Yameng Wang and their teacher Manuel Barrueco made to the composer’s home in New York. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

LIPPEL-DanCalled a “modern guitar polymath” (Guitar Review), guitarist Daniel Lippel feels fortunate to have carved out such a diverse career for himself. “You need to do a lot of things in this business to make a living,” Lippel told us by telephone from his home in Brooklyn, New York. “I’ve always been interested in a lot of different things and I feel pretty lucky that it’s worked out for me to be able to have a lot of variety in my career. I’m definitely not getting bored.”

On Thursday, December 12 beginning at 8:00 pm at the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Cleveland Classical Guitar Society presents guitarist Daniel Lippel in a concert that features contemporary solo and chamber music. Lippel will be joined by percussionist Luke Rinderknecht, Cleveland Orchestra principal oboist Frank Rosenwein and the Cleveland Institute of Music Guitar Quartet.

In addition to an active career as a solo performer, Lippel has commissioned or premiered more than fifty new solo and chamber works, many of which he has recorded for New Focus Recordings, the independent label he co-founded and directs. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Perez-formalAs part of the 2013-2014 International Series presented by the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society, Chilean guitarist Carlos Perez charmed a good-sized audience at Plymouth Church on Saturday evening with two short sets of Romantic-era music, half by Spanish composers and half by their Latin American cousins whose forebears had emigrated to Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.

Actually, one of those Spanish composers got on a boat as well. Antonio Jiménez Manjón, whose Dos Mazurkas and Aire Vasco opened the program, took up residence at some point in Buenos Aires. Blind since he was 13, Manjón produced some sprightly, cheerful music, judging by Una Flor and Lírica, and some technically demanding works as well, if the “Basque Air” is any indication. Perez played the sentimental Mazurkas with humor and color and tossed off the fleet divisions in the Basque variations with ease and flair. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Perez-formalI have chosen music from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century composers because they were all guitar performers and composers. And all of the composers that are represented on my program toured Europe and Latin America a lot,” Chilean classical guitarist Carlos Perez told us about his forthcoming concert via Skype from his home in Santiago.

They all wrote in the romantic style and at that period of time, the classical guitar school in South America was very influenced by the Spanish school. Many Spanish guitar players went to Buenos Aires and began to develop and spread the technique as well as the music of this period across Latin America. I’ve been reading the old newspapers about those concerts and the reviews and all of the composer/players on this program were very successful at that time.”

On Saturday, November 23 beginning at 7:30 pm in Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society presents Carlos Pérez in a concert featuring the music ofAntonio Jiménez Manjón, Emilio Pujol, Tomás Damas, Agustin Barrios, Julio Sagreras and Ernesto Nazareth. As part of CCGS’s Educational Outreach programs, middle school students from Buchtel Community Learning Center of Akron will give a special guitar orchestra performance beginning at 6:50 pm. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

CCMS-Logo-64The lineup for the sixty-fourth season of the Cleveland Chamber Music Society has its board members buzzing with enthusiasm. “Yes, there are world famous string quartets,” said Melvin Arnoff, “but also three pianists, a guitarist, a soprano, clarinets, flutes and percussion. And the composers range from Bartók, Beethoven and Britten to Dean, Dessner and Parry. This promises to be a “WOW” season.”

Anthony Addison agrees and mentions his favorites. “All six Bartók quartets and a return of eighth blackbird are the high spots of the season, as far as I am concerned. Cuarteto Casals with Manuel Barrueco on guitar, and Pavel Haas playing Janáček, Britten and Beethoven are a very close second. It’s a fascinating season.”

CCMS’s season begins at Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights on Tuesday, October 15 at 7:30 with a program of salon music from the British Isles, Russia, France, Germany and Italy performed by soprano Susanna Phillips, pianist Anne Marie McDermott and violist Paul Neubauer.

Barbara Green is especially enthusiastic about the first concert in the series. “I first heard Susanna Phillips when she was still a student at Juilliard and a participant in the Art Song Festival. She had a lovely voice, a fine command of the texts, and that certain quality which I can only describe as ‘presence’. I have followed her career for many years and was delighted to read the review of her performance [at the Metropolitan Opera] in today’s New York Times. How exciting it will be to hear her again!” Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Lincoln-West-HOBNortheast Ohio is home to a vibrant classical guitar community and the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society (CCGS) plays a vital role in bringing that community together through its International Series, Local Artist and Rising Stars series, Open Recitals and master classes. The area is also home to many of the finest classical guitar teachers in North America and on Sunday, September 22 beginning at 3:00 pm in Plymouth Church, CCGS presents its annual Showcase Concert.

The afternoon will include performances by Duo Amaral: Baldwin Wallace professor Jorge Amaral and Mia Pomerantz-Amaral; Duo Allant: Kathryn Thomas Umble, flute and François Fowler, guitar, professors at Youngstown State University; AronBerkner Duo: Jane Berkner, flute, and Stephen Aron, guitar, professors at the University of Akron and Oberlin Conservatory; and Jason Vieaux, professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. (see our concert listings page for further details)

CCGS is also committed to education by providing free classical guitar instruction to students of Lincoln West High School in Cleveland and Buchtel CLC in Akron. But, as CCGS executive director Erik Mann points out, they have been faced with some challenges in creating a program that serves the needs of a diverse student body. Read the rest of this entry »

by James Flood

Dylla-IMG_5703The young Polish guitarist, Marcin Dylla, delivered the final concert of the Cleveland Classical Guitar Socety’s Master’s Series on Friday, April 5 at First Unitarian Church in Shaker Heights. Dylla has been sweeping competitions around the world, earning 19 first-place awards with his exceptionally refined playing.

Dylla opened the program with Manuel Ponce’s Sonata Romantica, an homage to Franz Schubert. The work showcases Ponce’s compositional talent in writing a substantive work imitating the style of Schubert, with undulating melodies and, at times, rich chromaticism. Marcin Dylla’s playing is eminently smooth. His touch is gentle. Even his physical gestures bespeak the approach he takes, his arms and hands very fluid and relaxed. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

Dylla-IMG_5703Polish classical guitarist Marcin Dylla has been hailed as “among the most gifted guitarists on the planet” by the Washington Post. Mr. Dylla has earned his place among the world’s classical guitar elite, having won 19 first prizes at international music competitions including the Gold Medal at the 2007 Guitar Foundation of America International Competition in Los Angeles. On Friday, April 5 beginning at 7:30 PM in First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society presents Marcin Dylla in a recital featuring works by Manuel Maria Ponce, Magnus Lindberg, Anton Diabelli, Franz Schubert and Enrique Granados

Marcin Dylla is currently on a twenty-concert tour of North America which in addition to his performance in Cleveland includes his debut at Carnegie Hall. We spoke to Mr. Dylla by telephone and talked about what first attracted him to the guitar and why he thinks the instrument is experiencing a renaissance with audiences around the world. We began by asking him about his program. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Gideon WhiteheadA classical guitar concert of mostly Russian music held on St. Patrick’s Day in a rustic lodge in a national park —with stuffed bison heads staring down at you! Disconnects sometimes make for really successful concerts, as they did last Sunday when guitarist Gideon Whitehead performed at Happy Days Lodge in Cuyahoga Valley National Park under the joint auspices of Music by Nature and the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society.

Whitehead, a Michigander who studied at CIM and is now pursuing an artist diploma at the Curtis Institute with Jason Vieux and David Starobin, appeared as part of CCGS’s Local Artists and Rising Stars Series.

Each half of his cleverly-constructed program began with a suite (Sylvius Leopold Weiss’s real baroque Partita in g and Paul Lansky’s witty modern knock-off, Semi-Suite), proceeded to an evocative set of variations, Sergei Rudnev’s on The Old Lime Tree, or a narrative work, Nikita Koshkin’s Usher Waltz, and ended with a tone poem, Grigori Korchmar’s White Nights Serenade and Agustin Barrios Mangoré’s La Catedral. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

WHITEHEAD-GideonOn Sunday, March 17 at 3:00 pm, classical guitarist Gideon Whitehead returns to Northeast Ohio for a performance at the Happy Days Lodge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Mr. Whitehead’s performance is part of The Cleveland Classical Guitar Society’s Local Artists and Rising Stars Series and is presented in conjunction with Music by Nature. The program features works by Weiss, Rudnev, Korchmar, Lansky, Koshkin and Barrios Mangoré.

Gideon Whitehead began playing the guitar at age 14 in his native Michigan. Mr. Whitehead has had much success at competitions including top prizes at the 2011 James Stroud Guitar Competition and at the 2010 and 2011 University of Louisville International Guitar Competition. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in guitar performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and is currently pursuing and Artist Diploma at the Curtis Institute of Music.

We reached Gideon Whitehead by telephone in Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

 

On SundayWHITEHEAD-Gideon, March 17 at 3:00 pm, classical guitarist Gideon Whitehead returns to Northeast Ohio for a performance at the Happy Days Lodge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Mr. Whitehead’s performance is part of The Cleveland Classical Guitar Society’s Local Artists and Rising Stars Series and is presented in conjunction with Music by Nature. The program features works by Weiss, Rudnev, Korchmar, Lansky, Koshkin and Barrios Mangoré.

 

Gideon Whitehead began playing the guitar at age 14 in his native Michigan. Mr. Whitehead has had much success at competitions including top prizes at the 2011 James Stroud Guitar Competition and at the 2010 and 2011 University of Louisville International Guitar Competition. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in guitar performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and is currently pursuing and Artist Diploma at the Curtis Institute of Music. Read the rest of this entry »

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STAFF
Daniel Hathaway
founder & editor
Mike Telin
executive editor
Jarrett Hoffman
assistant to the editors

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James Flood
J.D. Goddard
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Nicholas Jones
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