What are some of the projects you’ve been working on?
I spent the last fifteen years, commissioning, premiering and recording new Spanish repertoire. Forty newly commissioned pieces (almost thirty of which) have been recorded across four volumes on the Naxos and Frameworks Record labels. I just released the latest volume on Frameworks Records, 21st Century Spanish Guitar, Volume 4. I lived in Spain for three years as a Fulbright Scholar from 2008 to 2011 and have been championing new music from Spain ever since. I’ve been refining my understanding of the elusive Spanish sound. I’m one drop of blood less gringo than before. While living in Spain, I realized that there was new renaissance of Spanish composition. EUREKA! It’s time to champion new music! Segovia, Bream, Fisk, and many of the great figures across time have done the same. I think rather than being afraid or cautious of new music, dissonances, experimental music, I think we need to really take the bull by the horn and embrace this world completely.
In 2015, Matthew Rohde, Scott Borg, my brothers from The Great Necks guitar trio, and I co-founded Kithara Project. It’s a nonprofit whose mission is to improve the lives of young people through the classical guitar. We are creating sustainable guitar education programs, and musical ecosystems, in the United States and Mexico City. It’s a wonderful project, and I don’t think there are many initiatives like it. This kind of work, to me, is monumental! You can impact the lives of these students for the rest of their lives. To achieve that, we found faculty whose spirit resonates with the mission and vice versa. We’ve also tapped into communities that need and want (guitar) music in their lives. It amounts to a total community transformation! The guitar, its music, and our faculty transport our students to worlds near and far, all while incubating sensitivity and curiosity. This work is just so fulfilling for me because I am serving the community. Without a community, the future of the guitar won’t exist. The future of guitar hinges on teachers perpetuating a comprehensive guitar culture. Oh jeez, before we move on, how could I forget, Kithara Project just inaugurated a physical brick and mortar music school building in Mexico City. This will be home to guitar students for generations to come.
How about some upcoming projects you see on the horizon?
One of the next big projects is with Duo Mantar, my mandolin and guitar chamber music group with Jacob Reuven. We’re recording an all-Avner Dorman album. He is this incredible Israeli-American composer. His music is being performed all over the place. I’m not joking, everywhere! What’s so special about his music is that he’s able to fuse Middle Eastern sounds, cultures and traditions, while also adding his very own personal American flair. It’s really quite cool! We commissioned him to write us a double concerto for mandolin, guitar and string orchestra. We are going to record this new piece (which we just received just this week), his guitar concerto called How to Love, his solo mandolin concerto, and then an undecided encore piece.
The Great Necks Guitar Trio is embarking on a wild trip down Beethoven, Bach and Mendelssohn alley. Yaki (Jacob Reuven) will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto on mandolin with the trio performing the orchestral part. Then we’re doing Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D minor for two mandolins with Yaki’s wife, Mari Carmen Simón, a fantastic Spanish mandolinist. And, finally, Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto (originally for basset horn and clarinet) for two mandolins and guitar trio. Gosh, shouldn’t I be practicing now?
|Full Interview: “I’m a ‘Guitar Hustler’ and I Like to Work to the Max”|