GUI­TAR FEST OPENS ON A CUBAN NOTE

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - LEONARD TURNEVICIUS Leonard Turnevicius writes about clas­si­cal mu­sic for The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor. leonard­turnevi­cius@gmail.com

Click your heels to­gether three times and say, “There’s no place like home”?

No, gra­cias. Be­cause pretty much all Rene Izquierdo needs to do is place his clas­si­cal gui­tar on his lap, and presto, he’s al­ready half­way to Ha­vana. Which is about as close to the Cuban cap­i­tal as he’s go­ing to come. At least, for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Izquierdo, who opens Emma Rush’s three-day Hamil­ton In­ter­na­tional Gui­tar Fes­ti­val with a solo recital to­mor­row night, Fri­day, July 7 at 8 p.m. in the Hamil­ton Con­ser­va­tory, 126 James St. S., de­fected from Cuba in 1995 and has never re­turned. Since 2004, home has been Mil­wau­kee where Izquierdo is as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of clas­si­cal gui­tar at the U of Wis­con­sin-Mil­wau­kee’s Peck School of the Arts. How­ever, it’s his na­tive Cuba that he’ll spot­light in the first half of his recital.

“I wanted to do a recital of lesser known Cuban pieces from the folk tra­di­tion, show­ing a dif­fer­ent light by play­ing pieces from Cuban 19th-cen­tury piano reper­toire and ar­range­ments,” Izquierdo wrote in an email to The Spec­ta­tor last Satur­day from Bos­ton.

Izquierdo’s first three num­bers, “Za­p­ateo cubano,” “Ojos Bru­jos,” and “El ar­royo que mur­mura,” were all ar­ranged by Cuban gui­tarist-com­poser-con­duc­tor Leo Brouwer, with whom he’d stud­ied very briefly and only in a mas­ter­class set­ting.

“Learn­ing with him was like hav­ing an en­cy­clo­pe­dia of knowl­edge at your fin­ger­tips and his lessons were larger than mu­sic,” wrote Izquierdo of Brouwer. “He con­cen­trated most in the gen­eral knowl­edge and how to back your in­tu­ition and be able to stand be­hind your mu­si­cal state­ment.”

Izquierdo’s other mu­si­cal state­ments in­clude “La com­parsa” by Ernesto Le­couna, Brouwer’s great-un­cle, “Five Cuban Con­tradan­zas,” and An­to­nio Rojas’s “Gua­jira a mi madre.” Af­ter in­ter­mis­sion, he’ll present works by Domenico Scar­latti, J.S. Bach, Joaquín Ro­drigo, and oth­ers.

On Satur­day, July 8 at 2 p.m. in the Con­ser­va­tory, Amer­i­can gui­tarist Lynn McGrath per­forms, with Span­ish nar­ra­tion, ex­cerpts from “Platero y yo” op. 190, Mario Castel­n­uovo-Tedesco’s mu­si­cal im­pres­sions of Juan Ramón Jiménez’s epony­mous col­lec­tion of prose po­ems.

That evening at 8 p.m., two Canucks, Drew Hen­der­son and Michael Kolk, a.k.a. Hen­der­son-Kolk Duo, will split a bill with Amer­i­can gui­tarist Bill Ka­nengiser. The duo will dive into their tran­scrip­tions of the Al­le­gretto move­ment from Beethoven’s “Sym­phony no. 7,” and the A. Scar­latti-J. S. Bach “Con­certo for Oboe and Strings,” be­fore tack­ling “Hier, au­jourd’hui, plus ja­mais” by the U of Ot­tawa’s Pa­trick Roux, and W.A. Mozart’s “Duo for Vi­o­lin and Vi­ola” K. 423. Ka­nengiser’s set in­cludes “Dror Yikro” (Song of Free­dom), writ­ten es­pe­cially for him in 1991 by Ian Krouse, and Oliver Hunt’s “The Bar­ber of Bagh­dad,” among oth­ers.

An­other of the fes­ti­val’s guest artists who needn’t click his heels thrice is last year’s HIGF com­pe­ti­tion win­ner, Viet­namese-born, Chicago-based An Tran, 24, who’s in con­cert at the Con­ser­va­tory on Sun­day, July 9 at 2 p.m.

At first blush, you might be think­ing that the clas­si­cal gui­tar and Viet­nam are odd bed­fel­lows. But that’s not the case what­so­ever.

“The clas­si­cal gui­tar is one of the most pop­u­lar mu­si­cal in­stru­ments in Viet­nam,” Tran wrote to The Spec­ta­tor.

“There are many dif­fer­ent gui­tar clubs and or­ga­ni­za­tions where peo­ple can learn to play. There are con­certs and fes­ti­vals through­out the year.”

Not sur­pris­ingly, Tran’s recital, which was one of his HIGF com­pe­ti­tion prizes, in­cludes three works from his na­tive land, “Rain” and “Cen­tral High­lands of Viet­nam” by the Viet­namese-Ger­man com­poser Dang Ngoc Long, as well as the love song “Stay, My Beloved,” ar­ranged by Toronto’s The An Nguyen. For con­trast, Tran will per­form three of Sir Wil­liam Wal­ton’s “Ba­gatelles,” and Mauro Gi­u­liani’s “Gran Sonata Eroica.”

Tick­ets for the fes­ti­val’s evening con­certs are $25, stu­dent/se­nior $15, while the af­ter­noon af­fairs are $15 and stu­dent/se­nior $10.

In ad­di­tion to th­ese con­certs, the HIGF is hold­ing sev­eral work­shops. Will Dou­glas’s “The Pro­jec­tion Project” runs this Satur­day at 11:30 a.m. while An­drea An­taya’s “Neck, Shoul­der, and Arm Health” is slated for 3 p.m. that af­ter­noon. Hamil­ton baroque gui­tarist Bud Roach will “Evoke the Baroque” on Sun­day 9 at 11:30 a.m.

The fi­nal round of the 2017 HIGF Com­pe­ti­tion is sched­uled for Sun­day at 8 p.m. in the Con­ser­va­tory. Ad­mis­sion is $15, stu­dent/ se­nior $10.

For more in­for­ma­tion, log on to gui­tarhamil­ton.com/fes­ti­val-sea­son or call 905-807-4792.

SPE­CIAL TO THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Rene Izquierdo plays the Hamil­ton In­ter­na­tional Gui­tar Fes­ti­val on Fri­day.

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