“There was not a moment in the three-and-a-half-hour evening session that was less than beautiful.” – The New York Times (review of 2012 Guitar Marathon)
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. The program includes a tribute to the influential and beloved guitarist, composer and arranger, Roland Dyens, who passed away in October 2016.
Benjamin Verdery, artistic director
John Schaefer, host
Sergio & Odair Assad
Dublin Guitar Quartet
VIDA Guitar Quartet
BACH: Partita No. 1 in B-flat major, BWV 825 (arr. M. Zukerman)
HAYDN: Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor, Hob. XVI:36 (arr. P. Galbraith)
RAMEAU: Selections from Pièces de clavecin (trans. S. Assad for guitar duo)
PHILIP GLASS: Saxophone Quartet (arr. Dublin Guitar Quartet)
URMAS SISASK: Selections from 12 Songs in Honor of the Virgin Mary (arr. Dublin Guitar Quartet)
Selected songs (arr. R. Dyens for solo guitar):
PIAF / MONNOT: “Hymne à l’amour”
VIAN / GORAGUER: “La Java des bombes atomiques”
HARBURG / ARLEN: “Over the Rainbow”
GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue (arr. C. Stell for guitar quartet)
This all-day event starts with Session 1 at 2 pm.
Separate tickets requred for each sesson.
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!
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- 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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- Mark Ashford, guitar
Born in Northampton, England, Mark Ashford is an internationally renowned performer and teacher. A former scholarship student at both Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, London, Mark graduated with first class honors and completed his studies with the eminent guitarist David Russell in Vigo, Spain. He is a prizewinner at the Guitar Foundation of America, Alessandria International Guitar Competition (Italy), Scandinavian International Guitar Competition, Julian Bream Prize, and BBC Radio 2 Young Musician, amongst others. He has performed as a soloist throughout Europe and in the US and with notable orchestras such as the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Turin Symphony. In 2004 Mark was honored to record Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Nicholas Cleobury which led to a successful concerto tour throughout the UK.
To date, Mark has recorded nine CDs to critical acclaim, including three with the VIDA Guitar Quartet. Mark was course director at the Bath International Guitar Festival for six years and is now Head of Guitar at the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music. He regularly gives master classes at the leading Conservatoires of Music and was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, ARAM, for his achievements in the music profession.
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- Amanda Cook, guitar
Dubbed “The ‘guitar queen’ with a silken touch” by The Independent, London, Amanda Cook has appeared as a soloist in the USA, South America and throughout Europe. She has been broadcast on television and radio, both abroad and in the UK, including BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and Classic FM.
Amanda won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music, London, where she studied with Charles Ramirez, Gary Ryan and Jakob Lindberg. Whilst there Amanda won several prizes for her performances. She then went on to study with Benjamin Verdery in New York. Several composers have dedicated works to Amanda, including Nato Lima, Paul Gregory, Cristiano Porqueddu, William Lovelady and Peter Stewart. In addition to solo work, Amanda is a member of the critically acclaimed VIDA Guitar Quartet who regularly tour the USA and Europe. Amanda was course director at the International Guitar Festival, UK, for five years. She regularly adjudicates music festivals in the UK and has sat on the jury for several International Competitions including the GFA 2015 in Oklahoma. Amanda is a patron of the Federation of Guitar Societies.
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- Sérgio and Odair Assad, guitar duo
The Brazilian-born brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad participated in 92Y’s first Guitar Marathon in January 2002, and they celebrated their 50th anniversary with a concert at 92Y in April 2015. They will return later this season with a program of Albéniz, Debussy, Villa Lobos, Gismonti and Baden Powell on April 29. Among the composers who have written for Assad Brothers are Astor Piazzolla, Terry Riley, Radamés Gnattali, Jorge Morel, Francisco Mignone and Sérgio Assad himself. They have worked extensively with such renowned artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Romero Lubambo, Paquito D’Rivera, Gidon Kremer and Dawn Upshaw. The Assad brothers are prolific recording artists, primarily for the Nonesuch and GHA labels. They won a Latin Grammy Award for Sérgio and Odair Assad Play Piazzolla from 2001. Sérgio won a Latin Grammy in 2008 for his composition, Tahiiyya Li Oussilina, which appeared on their seventh album, Jardim Abandonado. Their most recent release is Sérgio & Odair Assad & Paquito D’Rivera: Dances from the New World. Every November, the brothers present a residency at the University of Arizona in Tuscon. Odair, who has embarked on a solo career, is now based in Brussels where he teaches at Ecole Supérieure des Arts. Sérgio resides in San Francisco where he is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory. Their website is assadbrothers.com.
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- Dublin Guitar Quartet
The Dublin Guitar Quartet (DGQ) is Ireland’s first professional guitar quartet and the first classical guitar quartet entirely devoted to new music. Since its formation at the Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama, DGQ has commissioned new music and created arrangements of works by composers such as Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and György Ligeti, using eight- and 11-string guitars. DGQ is also developing the electric side of guitar quartet performance, commissioning and arranging works like Electric Counterpoint by Steve Reich and Ampified by Michael Gordon. Among its notable concerts and projects, DGQ has transcribed the entire set of Philip Glass quartets, and recorded Nos. 2-5 for Glass’ Orange Mountain Music label. It has recorded Pärt’s Summa for guitar quartet and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Repenence for cello, guitars and double bass, and it joined other guitar quartets to premiere Nico Muhly’s How Little You Are. DGQ has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious chamber music venues, including Wigmore Hall in London, the Phillips Collection of Washington, the Celebrity Series of Boston, as well as Symphony Space and Lincoln Center in New York. It makes its 92Y debut with this performance.
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- Paul Galbraith, guitar
Paul Galbraith is internationally renowned as a groundbreaking innovator of the classical guitar. At the age of 17, he won the Silver Medal at the Segovia International Guitar Competition. Since then he has toured the world, appearing most recently in major festivals in Austria, Spain, Italy, China, South Korea, the US and elsewhere. In New York, he has given multiple recitals at both 92Y and in Lincoln Center’s Great Performances series. Mr. Galbraith is famous for his unique playing position, whereby the guitar is supported by a metal endpin that rests on a wooden resonance box. The instrument has two extra strings, one high, one low, increasing its range to an unprecedented degree. Mr. Galbraith was nominated for a Grammy Award for his complete Bach Violin Sonatas and Partitas. It was also chosen as one of the two best CDs of the year by Gramophone, it received a four-star rating in Stereo Review, and it reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s classical charts. His other recordings include disks of Mozart, Bach and Britten, Haydn, Debussy and Ravel as well as Bach’s lute suites and folk tunes from around the world. His latest CD is Allemande, featuring music of Bach and Mozart. Mr. Galbraith has been featured on both the BBC and CBC, and he has been heard frequently on NPR. His website is paul-galbraith.com.
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- VIDA Guitar Quartet
Founded in 2007, the VIDA Guitar Quartet brings together four of the UK’s most exceptional guitarists (Mark Ashford, Amanda Cook, Mark Eden, Christopher Stell) into one virtuosic ensemble. VIDA has appeared in some of North America’s and Europe’s most prestigious venues and series for the classical guitar. In the US, VIDA has performed at the 2015 Guitar Federation of America Annual Conference, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, Washington DC’s Dumbarton Concerts and the Winter Park (Florida) Bach Festival, among others. This past Thursday the quartet played at Cornell University, and it returns to the US on April 2 to participate in the Long Island Guitar Festival.
Following its acclaimed 2009 debut CD, Love, the Magician, VIDA released its second CD, Rhapsody, in 2013. It features works by George Gershwin, Malcolm Arnold and Adam Gorb. VIDA’s latest CD (2015) is The Leaves Be Green, highlights works by British composers including Britten, Vaughan Williams and Elgar. Renowned as educators and for their innovative outreach, VIDA members have participated in the world’s largest youth guitar education program, which is held in the UK each summer and which attracts more than 200 students. They were also artists-in-residence at Cal State University Monterey Bay’s Summer Arts program in 2012. VIDA’s website is vidagq.com.
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- Max Zuckerman, guitar
Max Zuckerman is a multifaceted guitarist who lives and works in Brooklyn. Mr. Zuckerman performs throughout the US and abroad. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2010 performing a new work by Samuel Adams. Other recent performances include the Villa-Lobos Concerto with the Bay-Atlantic Symphony in New Jersey and the Panama National Symphony. Mr. Zuckerman has received awards in the Appalachian State Guitar Competition, Montreal Guitar Festival and Competition, Sierra Nevada Guitar Competition, and was awarded First Prize in the Middle Tennessee State University Guitar Festival and Competition. Mr. Zuckerman received his master of music degree from the Yale School of Music where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. He is also a graduate of the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where he earned both a bachelor of music and a graduate performance degree in the studio of Manuel Barrueco. He first appeared at 92Y in December 2009 when he joined Mr. Verdery in an Art of the Guitar pre-concert presentation before a recital by Mr. Barrueco. Tonight marks his official 92Y concert debut. While maintaining his classical repertoire, Mr. Zuckerman collaborates with other musicians and composers in a wide variety of styles, from the avant-garde to popular music. His website is MaxZuckerman.com.
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