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"A huge blowout of guitar music over six or eight hours” – The New York Times

The legendary guitar virtuoso Andrés Segovia once said, "The guitar is a small orchestra. It is polyphonic. Every string is a different color, a different voice." That helps explain why the guitar is so well suited to play music originally written for different forces, from the solo voice to the full orchestra. A great transcription pushes boundaries and reveals new voices from within the instrument. 92Y’s famed Guitar Marathon returns to explore the art of guitar transcription as some of the world’s greatest classical guitarists bring groundbreaking transcriptions to the 92Y stage – from Rhapsody in Blue to works by Mussorgsky and Phillip Glass.

Benjamin Verdery, artistic director
John Schaefer, host

Brasil Guitar Duo
Jorge Caballero
Eden Stell Guitar Duo
Benjamin Verdery
Ana Vidovic

Program includes:

MOZART: Adagio in B minor, K. 540 (arr. B. Verdery)
TAKEMITSU: Selections from 12 Songs for Guitar (transcriptions of pop songs)
VILLA-LOBOS: Aria from Bachianas brasileiras No. 5 (arr. R. Dyens)
POULENC: Suite in C major (arr, C. Stell for guitar duo)
MOMPOU: Selections from Cançons i Danses (arr, C. Stell for guitar duo)
Selected songs (arr. B. Verdery):
      JIMI HENDRIX: Purple Haze
      PRINCE: Kiss (arr. B. Verdery)
MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition (trans. K. Yamashita for solo guitar)

This all-day event continues with Session 2 at 8 pm.

Separate tickets required for each session.

Explore the Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

Note on the Program by Benjamin Verdery

It’s 1973 — an October evening in my parents’ kitchen. Across the table sits my new classical guitar teacher, Phil De Fremery, guitar in hand. Out of the blue, Phil starts to play the very piece I had been obsessed with: François Couperin’s harpsichord work, Les Barricades Mystérieuses. I can still vividly remember the exhilaration, the fascination and utter ecstasy I experienced hearing Barricades for the first time on my new chosen instrument, the classical guitar. I just about grabbed a knife (my mother was an extraordinary cook and there were plenty of very sharp knifes in reach) and held it to Phil, begging him to teach me this piece immediately — or else!!!

For centuries, our plucked, stringed ancestors have been arranging music for their instrument. The legendary lutenist Il Divino Francesco Canova Da Milano made lute intabulations of Josquin des Prez. It’s in the guitarist’s DNA to want play a song originally written for another instrument on our instrument. We do so out of love for the work at hand, curious to see whether the piece can actually be realized on the guitar.

Today’s Marathon commences with the dazzling Ana Vidovic playing two of the most popular arrangements in the modern guitar repertoire: Albéniz’s Asturias and J. S. Bach’s Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1. Take a moment and imagine how much poorer a guitarist’s musical soul would be without those two composers’ music in our repertoire.

When we guitarists make and perform a successful transcription of a renowned composer such as Philip Glass, several things happen: the guitar is placed in a bigger musical context and world; the technical and musical boundaries of the instrument are enhanced; the repertoire is expanded; and the guitar’s magical qualities reach new ears and hearts.

Transcriptions/arrangements of any given piece will always be in a state of evolution. Whoever is playing them at the time is certain to refer to the original manuscript and make different musical decisions. This is why in the case of the Albéniz, a multitude of editions is available.

Embarking on the journey of making a transcription/arrangement of any piece is wonderfully exciting and creative. One could argue that, in a manner, you are co-composing a new work. It has been my experience that the composers are thrilled to hear their music on an instrument they never dreamed it would, or could, be played on. Many of the pieces you will hear today are new arrangements. Only time will tell if they will become staples in our repertoire! You, the audience, and we, the players, will have a say in that. I invite you to listen to the innovation and the beauty of these new transcriptions.

Peace, love and guitar transcriptions!

Benjamin Verdery

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Artist Bios

Benjamin Verdery, guitar

Described by the New York Times as “an iconoclastic player,” Benjamin Verdery has been hailed for his innovative and eclectic musical career. In a recent interview, Ben brought us up to date.

“I had a fabulously exciting musical year (2016) including several releases: The Ben Verdery Guitar Project: On Vineyard Sound, new guitar music from my extraordinary colleagues at Yale, released by Elm City Records which I founded with my former student and dear friend, Sol Silber; a personal documentary shot in Korea for Arirang TV, ArTravel series and three videos including two protest videos: Chant for Peace and J. S. Bach’s Chaconne, subtitled An Interpretation Celebrating the Earth, Sky and Sea. In addition, I was honored to perform an evening of my compositions — including a new duo, From Aristotle — with Beat Box champion Mark Martin for the GFA; presented concerts and master classes in Holland, Germany and England; and hosted my 17th annual Maui Guitar Class.

“I began 2017 with a premier of Searching for a Chorale by one of my dearest mentors, Seymour Bernstein; and collaborations with Michiyaya Dance Company. As well as curating and performing at this year’s 92Y Guitar Marathon, I am also embarking on a new solo work for the Changsha International competition in China.

“I’m into my 32nd year as the guitar professor at the Yale School of Music and my 10th year as Artistic Director of 92Y’s Art of the Guitar series! It’s all coconuts!”

Benjamin Verdery’s website is BenjaminVerdery.com.

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John Schaefer, guitar

John Schaefer has hosted every 92Y Guitar Marathon since 2006. He has hosted Soundcheck, WNYC’s innovative daily talk show devoted to music, since the show’s inception in 2002. He has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds since 1982 and the New Sounds Live concert series since 1986.

Mr. Schaefer has written extensively about music, including the book New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music (Harper & Row, New York; Virgin Books, London), The Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music (Cambridge University Press) and Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin on the Bravo Network. He was a contributing editor at Spin and Ear magazines, and his liner notes appear on more than 100 recordings, ranging from The Music of Cambodia to CDs by Yo-Yo Ma and Terry Riley. In 2003, Mr. Schaefer was honored with the American Music Center’s prestigious Letter of Distinction for his “substantial contributions to advancing the field of contemporary American music in the United States and abroad.” In May 2006, New York magazine cited him as one of “the people whose ideas, power and sheer will are changing New York” in its “Influentials” issue. He began blogging for WNYC while accompanying the New York Philharmonic on its historic trip to North Korea in 2008, and he continues to blog daily for the Soundcheck page at wnyc.org.

Mr. Schaefer is a regular contributor to the World Science Festival and the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center; he has also written about horse racing (Bloodlines: A Horse Racing Anthology, Vintage NY) and was a regular panelist on the BBC’s soccer-based program Sports World.

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Brasil Guitar Duo

Making its 92nd Street Y debut, the Brasil Guitar Duo (João Luiz and Douglas Lora) has been performing together for more than 15 years, ever since the members met as teenagers in São Paulo. The Duo is a 2006 winner of the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and has appeared internationally on major concert series and at festivals in the US, Germany, England, South Korea, Colombia, Brazil, Austria, Poland and Bermuda. The Duo actively strives to expand the repertoire for two guitars, with Mr. Lora composing works and Mr. Luiz arranging both classical and Brazilian music. The Duo has a particular affinity for the work of Leo Brouwer. In 2015, it released a two-CD set of Brouwer’s complete work for two guitars, including his Sonata de los Viajeros, which received a 2016 Latin Grammy nomination for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. For its next recording, the Duo joins the Delaware Symphony for Brouwer’s El libro de los signos, along with Paulo Bellinati’s Concerto Caboclo, which the Duo had premiered in 2012. Other recent recordings include a 2010 collaboration with flutist Marina Piccinini of all Bach’s sonatas for flute and harpsichord, as arranged by the Duo for flute and two guitars. Its website is brasilguitarduo.com.

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Jorge Caballero, guitar

Guitarist and composer Jorge Caballero is the youngest musician and the only guitarist to win the prestigious Naumburg International Competition Award. A native of Lima, Peru, Mr. Caballero has performed as a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the New York Chamber Symphony, Turkey, among others. His US recital appearances include New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington’s Library of Congress, San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts and Los Angeles’s Da Camera Society. Internationally, he has given recitals in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Mr. Caballero is renowned for his historic recordings including Antonín Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony transcribed for solo guitar, and Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. His Musical Heritage CD of Bach Cello Suites was highly praised by critics. This year, he will be releasing a new album through the Brazilian label Guitar Coop, featuring his arrangements of works by Isaac Albéniz. Mr. Caballero was given the great distinction of being asked to perform on a 1940 Hauser I guitar (formerly played by Julian Bream) in three videos produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mr. Caballero will make his 92Y solo recital debut next season on February 10, 2018. His website is jorgecaballeroguitar.com.

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Eden Stell Guitar Duo

The Eden Stell Guitar Duo (Mark Eden and Christopher Stell) has performed at venues and music festivals around the world. It has given recitals for such prestigious events as the Guitar Foundation of America, Omni Foundation Concert Series in San Francisco, London Guitar Festival at Kings Place, Alla Grande Festival in Canada and Uppsala Kongress Hall in Sweden. They are regular artists at London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre. The Duo was the first guitar act since Julian Bream to be named Editor’s Choice in Gramophone with its album of works by Stephen Dodgson, and has made recordings on the BSG, Hannsler Classics and Docker labels. Mr. Eden and Mr. Stell are founding members of the VIDA Guitar Quartet, and they are artistic directors of the Winchester Guitar Festival and the World Youth Guitar Festival, drawing more than 200 students from more than15 countries. They have since been elected Associates of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of their outstanding musical achievements, and they both currently hold teaching positions at several leading music institutions in the UK. The Duo’s website is edenstell.com.

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Ana Vidovic, guitar

Croatian guitarist Ana Vidovic returns to 92Y for her third Guitar Marathon and her second appearance this season; she gave an acclaimed solo recital this past December. Ms. Vidovic’s international performance career has included recitals, concerto engagements and festival appearances in Budapest, Oslo, Paris, Salzburg, Vienna, Hong Kong, Istanbul and Tel Aviv. Earlier this season she gave recitals in Baltimore, Fort Worth and Dallas, and this spring she returns to San Francisco. Previous North American engagements include Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Toronto and Winnipeg. During her European appearances later this season, she will make her Rome debut, and she tours Japan on an almost annual basis.

Ms. Vidovic has recorded six CDs, including a disc of works by Moreno Torroba for Naxos. Mel Bay Publications has released two DVDs: Ana Vidovic: Guitar Artistry in Concert, an album of mostly Spanish and Latin American music and Guitar Virtuoso, with works ranging from Bach to Walton. She was also featured in three television documentaries by the eminent Croatian film director Petar Krelja. Born in the small town of Karlovac near Zagreb, Ms. Vidovic won first prizes in the Albert Augustine International Competition in Bath, England, the Fernando Sor competition in Rome, Italy, and the Francisco Tarrega competition in Benicàssim, Spain. Her website is anavidovic.com.

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