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Guitar festival going from strength to strength

By Nancy ActonTen years ago, Bermuda School of Music (BSM) guitar instructor Steve Crawford launched his first guitar festival with the tentative hope that it would become an annual affair.

Today, it has not only fulfilled but also surpassed that hope, and gone from strength to strength in terms of participating artists and audience growth.

“What a great journey it has been for me as the organiser,” Mr Crawford said. “To put on great concerts for the Bermuda public has been so uplifting. Every year it leaves me feeling fulfilled to see people having such a fantastic time. It makes all the hard work we have put in exceptionally worthwhile.”

The founder also paid tribute to Bermudian professional artist Graham Foster for this year’s striking poster design, and Libby Cook-Toppan for her “beautifully designed” programme.

As always, the 2013 Festival programme blends BSM guitar faculty and students with eminent professionals from overseas a combination which also pleases Mr Crawford.

“As a teacher, being able to show off some of the things the school teaches through its guitar department is great,” he said.

Marking a decade of success calls for an extra-special celebration, so in addition to four concerts, there will also be a series of free workshops which includes master classes and lectures by visiting artists.

Headlining the Festival will be Harlem-born funky fingerstyle guitar king Adam Rafferty, whose popularity sees him returning for the third time. His solo concert on June 1 will include his own compositions as well pieces by John Lennon, Lonnie Smith, ABBA, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, among others.

Internationally known as a virtuosic and soulful classical guitarist, Matt Palmer is another returnee. He will open the four-day Festival on May 30 playing works by Bach, Assad, Ponce, Ascencio and Rak.

“Matt was the highlight of last year’s Festival,” Mr Crawford noted. “He just took the roof off with his musicality. It was amazing. His concert was phenomenal.”

The opening programme will also feature Mr Crawford playing works by Sor, Cardoso, Poulenc, Albeniz and others. He will be accompanied in part by guest flutist Nancy Smith.

Former BSM guitar instructor and recording artist Louise Southwood is also making a welcome return to the Island, where she will join current BSM award-winning classical guitar instructor Jerremiah Smith on the May 31 concert programme. Their combined repertoire will include works by Bach, Downland, Hummel, Tarrega, and Barrios, as well as the première performance of Mr Smith’s composition, ‘Bermuda Suite’. Of this work, the composer said the first movement, ‘Bacarolle’, is “a type of boat song”, which mimics the sound of the waves and the motion of gondoliers. The second, ‘Reverie’, is “basically a daydream”.

“Bermuda is a nice place to go and be inspired like John Lennon and Shakespeare,” Mr Smith noted.

The third movement, ‘Modinha’, is in lament style, and is the type of piece with origins in Portugal or Brazil.

In choosing a melancholy tone for the final movement, the composer said his intent was to capture the sadness of being invited to live and work in Bermuda and then having to leave.

“It seemed a fitting way to close the suite.”

Mr Smith will be joined by BSM faculty piano instructor Zacc Rodwell for Hummel’s duet, ‘Pot Pourri Op. 53’.

The festival will conclude on June 2 with a gala concert featuring BSM students of all ages.

The workshop series will begin on June 1 with two master classes, the first by Miss Southwood, and the second, ‘Stylistic Interpretation’, by Mr Palmer. Both will take place at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Church Street at 10am and 1.30pm respectively.

On June 2 internationally renowned guitar maker Paul Jacobson will give a lecture entitled ‘Intonation Decoded’ in the BSM chamber concert room at the old Berkeley Institute building at 10.30am Also on June 2, Adam Rafferty will conduct a workshop entitled ‘Establishing Groove in your Playing’ at 1.30pm at St. Andrew’s church.

All workshops are free and everyone is welcome.

Concerts will take place at St. Andrew’s Church with a curtain time of 7.30pm on May 30 and 31; 8pm on June 1 and 5pm on June 2.

Tickets ($30) are available from Premier Tickets (premierticketsglobal.com), the Music Box on Reid Street (tel. 295-4839) and the Bermuda School of Music (tel. 296-5100).

For further information see the Bermuda Calendar.

Part proceeds from the Bermuda Guitar Festival will be used to give promising, hard-working students extra lesson time, and also to purchase new music books and other materials to help with their progress.

Adam Rafferty: Returning to headline the Bermuda Guitar Festival

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Published May 22, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm)

Guitar festival going from strength to strength

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