1. Performing at the White House is a career highlight for any artist. For guitarist Sharon Isbin, it came November 9, 2009, with President and Mrs. Obama in the audience.
Ms. Isbin performed two works that she’ll also play at her 92Y recital this Saturday night: Albéniz’ iconic Asturias and Barios Mangore’s Waltz in D major, Op. 8, No. 4.
BTW: the piano in the background is the White House 1938 Steinway with gilt American eagle supports, designed with help from Franklin Roosevelt.

    Performing at the White House is a career highlight for any artist. For guitarist Sharon Isbin, it came November 9, 2009, with President and Mrs. Obama in the audience.

    Ms. Isbin performed two works that she’ll also play at her 92Y recital this Saturday night: Albéniz’ iconic Asturias and Barios Mangore’s Waltz in D major, Op. 8, No. 4.

    BTW: the piano in the background is the White House 1938 Steinway with gilt American eagle supports, designed with help from Franklin Roosevelt.

  2. How does an artist create a recital program? On Tue, Dec 3, Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang will give the second concert in the new 92Y at SubCulture series. She’s written an introduction to her program explaining her selections and her feelings towards the music.
My program takes you on a musical journey from the 1600s through 2013, and across Europe, South America and Asia. Along the way I will showcase three pieces that are considered 20th century masterworks for the instrument and give the world premiere of a piece from my homeland China.
The first half features the music of Benjamin Britten and Schubert. The year 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the British composer Benjamin Britten. He wrote just one piece for solo guitar, Nocturnal after John Dowland, for the British guitarist Julian Bream. It is based on the theme of sleep, and dreams. It is one of the most important pieces written for the instrument. I love this piece and want to play it for you in this centenary year.
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Britten’s Courtly Dances are from his opera Gloriana, set almost 500 years ago in the Royal Court of Queen Elizabeth I. In this anniversary year, I have transcribed the full set of dances for solo guitar. At first, I thought a couple of the dances were impossible to play, but I finally figured them out. So I hope you will agree with me that they work on the instrument and are a worthy addition to the guitar repertoire.
I always include a Romantic piece in my program, and this time I chose one of my all-time favourite Romantic composers, Franz Schubert whose music speaks to me directly. I have selected six of his songs, and I owe a debt of gratitude to the 19th century guitarist/composer Johann Kasper Mertz for these beautiful arrangements.
I will start the second half with the USA premiere of a piece (commissioned for me by Wigmore Hall in London) from the USA-based Chinese composer Chen Yi. I am very excited about this piece as it is the first I have received from a Chinese composer. It is based a Chinese folk-style called Shuo Chang which typically uses drums, singing and speaking to present a musical drama. This piece presents all these elements as a monodrama on a single guitar. I hope you will enjoy the sounds, colours and textures of this piece.
For the final two pieces of the second half, I chose two of the masterworks from the 20th century guitar repertoire. William Walton was a British composer who wrote these Five Bagatelles for Julian Bream. Although “Bagatelle” means a short, light piece, these are technically challenging to play. The pieces carry some of the warmth of the Italy, where Walton spent many years of his life.
The final piece is by Alberto Ginastera and written for Brazilian guitarist Carlos Barbosa Lima. His Sonata in four movements showcases and deconstructs the sounds, ambiance and rhythms of his native Argentina, ending in a frenzied and exciting finale to close the concert.

    How does an artist create a recital program? On Tue, Dec 3, Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang will give the second concert in the new 92Y at SubCulture series. She’s written an introduction to her program explaining her selections and her feelings towards the music.

    My program takes you on a musical journey from the 1600s through 2013, and across Europe, South America and Asia. Along the way I will showcase three pieces that are considered 20th century masterworks for the instrument and give the world premiere of a piece from my homeland China.

    The first half features the music of Benjamin Britten and Schubert. The year 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the British composer Benjamin Britten. He wrote just one piece for solo guitar, Nocturnal after John Dowland, for the British guitarist Julian Bream. It is based on the theme of sleep, and dreams. It is one of the most important pieces written for the instrument. I love this piece and want to play it for you in this centenary year.

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  3. The Segovia Master Class in Spain (1965)

    One way Andrés Segovia furthered his legacy was by giving master classes around the world. Of the seven artists performing in 92Y’s Segovia Tribute concert tomorrow, four—Oscar Ghiglia, Adam Holzman, Richard Savino, Christopher Parkening—were chosen to participate in Segovia master classes. (Eliot Fisk was a pupil but never did a master class.)
     
    Oscar Ghiglia’s 1965 master class with Segovia in Spain was filmed; watch this beautiful footage above.
     
    Fast forward 48 years, and Mr. Ghiglia brings that legacy to 92Y and a new generation this Sunday, Oct 27, by leading his own master class at the 92Y School of Music.

    Previously: Segovia and his Guitars: 92Y Concerts visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art
     

  4. In 1987 Andrés Segovia presented two guitars to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its Musical Instruments Collection: his 1912 Ramirez and 1937 Hauser. He began his career with the Ramirez, but it was with the Hauser that he defined a “classical guitar” sound and established his instrument as a major force in classical music.

    92Y’s Benjamin Verdery sits down with the curators of the Musical Instruments Collections—J. Kenneth Moore and Jayson Kerr Dobney—in front of the case containing the Segovia Guitars to discuss Segovia, the instruments, and his lasting legacy.

    The conversation was a prelude to 92Y’s “An American Tribute to Segovia,” a concert on Oct 26, 2013, led by Verdery and featuring Eliot Fisk, Oscar Ghiglia, Christopher Parkening and others.

  5. Guitar legend Andrés Segovia played at 92nd Street Y twice, on February 27, 1938 and March 10, 1980. This rare recording, released for the first time today, features the 1980 concert which was scheduled on short notice after an unexpected cancellation by the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.

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  6. On March 11, 1979, an 86-year-old Andrés Segovia gave a recital in the East Room of the White House. Among the works he performed were Canción Del Emperador and “Guardame las vacas” by the Spanish Renaissance composer Luis de Narváez.

    On October 26 at 92Y, Richard Savino will perform “Guardame las vacas” in 92Y’s “American Tribute to Andrés Segovia” concert.

  7. Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra by Villa-Lobos dedicated to Andrés Segovia. Guitarist Eliot Fisk will play the cadenza of this concerto as a solo piece on October 26 for our “An American Tribute to Andrés Segovia” concert. 
You can view a photo album of Andrés Segovia’s Manuscripts on our Facebook page. And check out the hashtag #92YSegovia on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for other interviews, photos, recordings, and more.
(Image courtesy of Yale University Irving S. Gilmore Music Library.) 

    Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Orchestra by Villa-Lobos dedicated to Andrés Segovia. Guitarist Eliot Fisk will play the cadenza of this concerto as a solo piece on October 26 for our “An American Tribute to Andrés Segovia” concert. 

    You can view a photo album of Andrés Segovia’s Manuscripts on our Facebook page. And check out the hashtag #92YSegovia on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for other interviews, photos, recordings, and more.

    (Image courtesy of Yale University Irving S. Gilmore Music Library.) 

  8. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has created a short film on one of the two “Segovia Guitars” in its Musical Instruments collection, his beloved 1937 Hauser.
On October 26 at 92Y, Benjamin Verdery will lead five guitarists in a tribute concert to Andrés Segovia. He recently talked with the Collection’s two curators about Segovia and his guitars at the Met Collection itself. Stay tuned for the interview’s posting.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art has created a short film on one of the two “Segovia Guitars” in its Musical Instruments collection, his beloved 1937 Hauser.

    On October 26 at 92Y, Benjamin Verdery will lead five guitarists in a tribute concert to Andrés Segovia. He recently talked with the Collection’s two curators about Segovia and his guitars at the Met Collection itself. Stay tuned for the interview’s posting.

  9. "And to all of you, peace, love and guitars!"
On Oct 26, the 120th anniversary of Andrés Segovia’s birth, students and associates of the founder of modern classical guitar performance pay homage to the master at 92Y.
Benjamin Verdery, artistic director who curated the program, writes:
"Every instrument at some point in its history has a player who breaks through to uncharted musical and technical waters. Such was the case with the guitarist born in Linares, Spain in 1893: Andres Segovia. Segovia was a soldier for the classical guitar if there ever was one, relentlessly touring, recording and teaching. His mission was to convince all those who listened that there was nothing more beautiful and poetic than the classical guitar.
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Segovia’s fame in this country during his lifetime was such that it was a common occurrence for a stranger to approach me when I had a guitar by my side while I was, say, waiting for a train, and exclaim “How about that Spanish guy, Segovia? He’s good!” If they had not seen the Maestro in concert, they would have heard his recordings on the radio, or they may have seen him playing Sor’s “Mozart” Variations on one of his four “Ed Sullivan Show” appearances, or later on his PBS master class videos, or even later in his life on his televised White House concert.
For this was a man who never missed an opportunity to introduce and convert new ears to the guitar’s repertoire. If he were starting out today, he would be on all the social media and most likely tweeting fingerings!!!
In curating tonight’s program, I attempted to give the audience a “snap shot” of some of the repertoire that was dear to Segovia. The relationships the Maestro had with Villa-Lobos, Falla, Tedesco and Ponce deeply enriched his artistry. His interest in vihuela and Baroque guitar music was evident in almost all of his programs. His love of Bach and his extraordinary performances of the Bach Chaconne are legendary.
In addition he was a tireless transcriber and arranger. Segovia’s arrangements of Albeniz and Granados convinced us all that their music was actually written for his instrument. He was forever transcribing musical jewels by master composers. In so doing, he placed the guitar in a larger musical arena.
And in that arena he was coach to all players, wherever they came from. Most of the performers tonight worked directly with the Maestro in classes spanning many years. What all of us share is a common lineage. We have all had some musical truth passed down to us via Segovia. Perhaps it was his mastery of finesse, like how to give attention to sound using the thumb, or shape a phrase, or play a chord by muting all the previous notes to let the top note sing, or use vibrato. Or perhaps it was his care for the music itself, like how to shape a program, or to commission works from composers you profoundly believed in, or of course in his numerous publications— the list is substantial. And his influence won’t stop; for generations to come aspects of the Maestro’s creative ideas will be passed on from player to player.
To Oscar Ghiglia, Chris Parkening, Eliot Fisk, Richard Savino, Adam Holzman and Martha Masters, un gran abrazo for sharing your artistry and your love for the Maestro with our audience at this celebration! And to all of you, peace, love and guitars!
Learn more and buy tickets at An American Tribute to Andrés Segovia.

    "And to all of you, peace, love and guitars!"

    On Oct 26, the 120th anniversary of Andrés Segovia’s birth, students and associates of the founder of modern classical guitar performance pay homage to the master at 92Y.

    Benjamin Verdery, artistic director who curated the program, writes:

    "Every instrument at some point in its history has a player who breaks through to uncharted musical and technical waters. Such was the case with the guitarist born in Linares, Spain in 1893: Andres Segovia. Segovia was a soldier for the classical guitar if there ever was one, relentlessly touring, recording and teaching. His mission was to convince all those who listened that there was nothing more beautiful and poetic than the classical guitar.

    Read More

  10. On Saturday, March 23, Belgian guitarist Raphaella Smits makes her 92Y solo recital debut in a program of Bach, Sor and Mertz.
As an introduction, here is a brief Q&A edited together from three English-language interviews posted on her website: NYlon Review, Soundboard and Classical Guitar.
How did you start playing the guitar?
I started by singing and playing the recorder. I even didn’t even know the existence of the guitar until at the age of 13, when out of the blue, I got a cheap guitar as a present. As I loved making music I started to play it. Two months later, I received a Segovia LP and that made me fall in love with guitar music.
What was your musical education?
I was lucky to have some good teachers, but it is not always the best teachers who have the most influence. Sometimes by seeing how not to do something, you can learn. Also, if you go to an incredibly good concert, that can also be like a teacher. My main teacher was my music, my instrument, myself, no matter where I went. The experience of life, friends, books, recordings, going into the library to find by chance something you are not looking for! Your teacher is everywhere.
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You are one of the most famous 8-string guitarists? Why do you prefer it over the 6-string -string guitar?
I wonder if you ever asked a 6-string player why he is not playing 8 strings!
Anyway, basically it is not that I prefer 8 to 6 strings, but that a lot of the music I’m playing benefits from the basses. The additional 7th and 8th strings give a more full sound. I could simply say that I have a soft spot for basses, but there is more to it. My aspiration is to make music to the best of my ability. I aim for an authentic execution.
So I play a lot of different instruments—both contemporary and historical—because each type of instrument creates a different world. I choose a guitar not because it has a certain number of strings, but because I think it might be the right instrument for the repertoire I’m going to play.
And the 7th string is sometimes very useful for a better, more convenient left-hand fingering.
How and why did you become interested in historical instruments?
It’s a completely different world with an old instrument. it is just more interesting. Not only because of the sound concept, but also because you get closer to what the composer was thinking and to the understanding of the music.
I think it’s the same as driving a car. You can drive in the woods with any car, but some do it better there than others. That same car could perhaps not ride as well on the highway.
How is performing music that you’ve known for a long time different from performing newer music?
Performing music that I’ve known for a long time is a twofold experience. It’s fine to rediscover the things I once saw on a previous journey, but it’s even finer to go deeper and explore new layers in the composition. Now that I’m playing the complete Partita, I see the Chaconne that I played before in a new light. Fascinating!
Note: Raphaella Smits is playing Bach’s Partita in D minor, BWV 1004, including the Chaconne, during her 92Y recital on Mar 23.
What helps you to perform, whether alone or with others?
Perhaps it sounds obvious, but a lot of musicians do not listen—not to themselves nor to their partner. Good musicians live in two worlds simultaneously: they must be able to think ahead how a phrase is going to sound just before they play it, but then they have to listen very carefully if the phrase sounds for the audience like they intended it to be.
Somehow, playing music is a triple activity: you play physically, you listen and judge the result of the playing and you prepare, and if necessary adjust your next lines.

    On Saturday, March 23, Belgian guitarist Raphaella Smits makes her 92Y solo recital debut in a program of Bach, Sor and Mertz.

    As an introduction, here is a brief Q&A edited together from three English-language interviews posted on her website: NYlon Review, Soundboard and Classical Guitar.

    How did you start playing the guitar?

    I started by singing and playing the recorder. I even didn’t even know the existence of the guitar until at the age of 13, when out of the blue, I got a cheap guitar as a present. As I loved making music I started to play it. Two months later, I received a Segovia LP and that made me fall in love with guitar music.

    What was your musical education?

    I was lucky to have some good teachers, but it is not always the best teachers who have the most influence. Sometimes by seeing how not to do something, you can learn. Also, if you go to an incredibly good concert, that can also be like a teacher. My main teacher was my music, my instrument, myself, no matter where I went. The experience of life, friends, books, recordings, going into the library to find by chance something you are not looking for! Your teacher is everywhere.

    Read More