“Keep the emphasis on superlatives for its unrivaled joy, technical élan and questing spirits.” — Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet – a favorite guest of 92Y’s beloved Art of the Guitar series – returns with a program that crisscrosses the globe and centuries, and demonstrates the LAGQ’s commitment to new works.

The concert includes a journey to Renaissance Paris with four chansons featured on LAGQ's latest CD, New Renaissance. It also includes one of Bach’s greatest glories, then turns to the British Allan Willcocks (Canterbury, 1869–Brighton, 1956) – except he’s not. He’s a totally fictitious character, invented as a pen name by German guitarist-composer Tilman Hoppstock. The concert ends on a high – literally and figuratively – with the premiere of a new work by the very real jazz guitar innovator Pat Metheny, written for the LAGQ and inspired by a famous highway going up to Glacier Park, Montana.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet 
      John Dearman
      Matthew Greif
      William Kanengiser
      Scott Tennant

BACH: Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat major, BWV 1051 (arr. J. Smith) 

TILMAN HOPPSTOCK (as Allan Willcocks): Suite Transcendent*
COPLAND: Two Mexican Pieces (arr. W. Kanengiser)
      Paisaje Mexicano
      Danza del Jalisco
Four Renaissance French Chansons:
      FRANCESCO DA MILANO: Mon pere si ma marie (arr. R. Savino)
      PIERRE CERTON: Je ne l’ose dire (arr. S. Tennant)
      JOSQUIN DES PRES: Adieu mes amours (arr. S. Tennant) 

      PIERRE PASSEREAU: Il est bel et bon (arr. S. Tennant)
PAT METHENY: Road to the Sun* (New York Premiere, 92Y co-commission)  

* Written for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

Join us for a free pre-concert talk one hour before every performance with your ticket, led by Benjamin Verdery, Art of the Guitar artistic director and chair of the Guitar Department of the Yale School of Music.


92Y Art of the Guitar is presented with major support from the D'Addario Foundation.


Additional support is generously provided by The Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. & Erna D. Leir and The Augustine Foundation.

► LAGQ in a 92Y pre-concert conversation with Ben Verdery, Feb 9, 2013

► LAGQ plays Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, III. Allegro

► LAGQ plays Josquin des Prez’s Adieu mes Amours, arranged by Scott Tennant

Pat Metheny on Road to the Sun: An Interview and Composer’s Note

Explore the Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

MONTES: Llanura

Born in Cuidad Bolivar, Venezuela, September 2, 1955
Composed in 1995; 5 minutes

In addition to his work as arranger and composer for guitar, Venezuelan composer Alfonso Montes has developed an active career as a performer in Europe and Latin America, especially with the Stuttgart- based Duo Montez-Kircher. Written expressly for LAGQ in 1995 Llanura (“plain”) refers to the open savannahs of the Oronico Basin in Venezuela. Capturing the rhythmic and sonic spirit of traditional folk music of the area, specifically the lively improvisational joropo, it explores the resonant and polymetric textures of the Venezuelan harp. Progressing through a sequence of sections in distinct key centers and rhythmic grooves, the piece maintains the infectious overlapping subdivisions typical of this style, reminiscent of the famous solo guitar piece Seis por Derecho by Venezuelan master Antonio Lauro.

© 2016, William Kanengiser

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BACH: Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in in B-flat major, BWV 1051

Born in Eisenach, March 21, 1685; died in Leipzig, July 28, 1750
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in in B-flat major, BWV 1051 (arr. James Smith)

Composed in 1721; 17 minutes

Written in 1721 as a means of gaining favor with the Margrave of Brandenburg, Bach’s Six concerts à plusieurs instruments never garnered payment or even thanks for the composer. Yet they establish him today as the master of the concerto-grosso style pioneered by Corelli. The sixth Brandenburg Concerto was scored for string orchestra, but without violins; violas carry the upper melodic material. This lower tessitura makes the piece ideal for an arrangement for guitar quartet. Set in a fast-slow-fast structure, the piece showcases Bach’s peerless use of imitative writing. The first movement is drivingly propulsive, with the two upper parts chasing each other in a canon at the eighth note. The middle movement is one of Bach’s stately and shimmering Adagios, while the final movement is one of Bach’s most joyous gigues, with a rondo theme recurring in a variety of guises.

© 2016, William Kanengiser

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HOPPSTOCK: Suite Transcendent

Born in Darmstadt, Germany, February 13, 1961
Suite Transcendent

Composed in 2014; 12 minutes

Tilman Hoppstock is a legendary guitar virtuoso, arranger, composer and musical scholar. Beginning in 2005, he began writing a series of solo guitar works reminiscent of the works of Debussy and Ravel. He wrote them under the pseudonym of an imaginary English Impressionist composer: Allan Willcocks” (1869–1956), going so far as to create an entire biography for his doppelgänger. At the behest of LAGQ, Hoppstock “discovered” a new Willcocks composition for four guitars, one of the first guitar quartets in this style. The composer had these comments about his piece:

By “becoming” Allan Willcocks, I was given freedom to create music which displays influences of French and English Impressionism and reflects a completely distinct musical personality from my own. The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet expressed fondness for the solo guitar works written by Willcocks, and so commissioned me to write this new work for them. I selected the adjective “transcendent” in the title to create an ambiance which not only describes tangible realities but also intimates contemplative sensuality.

The first movement, Open Landscape, describes a wide physical space, but also hints at additional facets of vastness such as fantasy, dreams and the cosmos. La Grande Cathedrale could characterize a massive physical monument, or invoke an “edifice of ideas,” which serves as an entrance portal to an intangible world. The third movement, a compact fugue, floats along like a temporary breeze and possesses the character of an episode in the broadest sense of the word. The fourth movement, comprised almost entirely of natural and artificial harmonics, is intended to create a mysterious overtone timbre, appearing as the spectre of an imaginary gate to heaven (“La porte du ciel”). The final movement, Danza diabòlica, begins with strong alternating chords, faintly reminiscent of the twelfth of Debussy’s Études for piano. Then a deliberate break in style to harkens to Indonesian gamelan music, a style much admired by the Impressionists.

© 2016, Tilman Hoppstock

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COPLAND: Two Mexican Pieces

Born in Brooklyn, November 14, 1900; died in Sleepy Hollow, December 2, 1990
Two Mexican Pieces
Composed in 1959; six minutes

The son of immigrant parents, Aaron Copland lived to become the most celebrated of American composers. His popular reputation in the US is founded on his thoroughly American ballets — Billy the Kid, Rodeo and Appalachian Spring — while a great variety of other compositions won him an unassailable position in American concert life. In the course of his composing and conducting career, Copland made many visits to Central and South America; and, from El Salon Mexico of 1933–1936 onwards, the rhythms and colors of the region have enlivened several of his shorter works.

The second and third of his Three Latin American Sketches were originally presented, under the title Two Mexican Pieces, at the 1959 Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. The first movement, Paisaje Mexicano (Mexican Landscape) features a wonderful mix of lyric and languid atmosphere. The second, Danza de Jalisco, is based on the son, a traditional dance form from Veracruz. Using the alternation of 6/8 and 3/4 meters which typifies much Spanish and Latin-American music, Copland’s own distinctive voice is evident in the use of open harmonies, broad textures and exotic percussion.

© 2016, William Kanengiser

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Four French Renaissance Chansons

Francesco Canova da Milano (born probably in Monza, Italy, August 18, 1497; died January 2, 1543, location unknown) was one of the most celebrated musicians of the Italian Renaissance. He played and composed for the lute, and in reverence of his virtuosity, he became known as “Il Divino”, a nickname he shared with his illustrious elder contemporary, Michelangelo. His intabulation of the popular 16th century Parisian song Mon pere si ma Marie features some quite unusual meter changes and polyphonic interplay.

After being arrested as a boy for irreverently playing ball outside the cathedral of Notre Dame, Pierre Certon (born probably in Melun, France, c. 1510–1520; died in Paris, February 23,1572), later became deeply involved with the church throughout his adult life. He was also quite well-known for his motets and chansons spiritiuelles, but it was his secular chansons for which he gained popular acclaim. Je ne l’ose dire (one minute) is one of his most popular chansons. The title, “I shouldn’t tell you”, should be more like “I shouldn’t tell you, but I will anyway”, and portrays two women gossiping about a man who’s cheating on his wife.

During the 16th century, Josquin des Prez (born in the county of Hainaut, c. 1450; died in Condé-sur-l’Escaut [on border of France and Belgium], August 27, 1521) earned the reputation as the greatest composer of the age. With close to 400 works being attributed to him, Josquin composed both sacred and secular works that spanned all of the vocal forms, including masses, motets and chansons. Adieu mes Amours (Farewell my Loves) (Composed in 1480) was among his most popular secular chansons, and would be arranged and imitated by several of his contemporaries. Although the title may imply a love song, it is, actually, a song of despair and money woes, its lyrics bemoaning the fact that: “I have no more money. Shall I live on air, if the king’s money does not come more often?” Ah, the blues!

Pierre Passereau (flourished 1509–1547) was one of the most popular composers of "Parisian" chansons in the 1530s. Unlike Certon and Josquin, his output consisted almost exclusively of secular chansons, which were rustic in nature and frequently laden with obscenities. In his most popular song, Il est bel et bon (composed in 1534), two women chat and compare their husbands, and how they dutifully do their chores and feed the chickens, hence the rapid repeated notes imitating the clucking of chickens.

© 2016, William Kanengiser

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METHENY: Road to the Sun

Born in Lee’s Summit, MO, August 12, 1954
Road to the Sun (New York premiere, 92Y co-commission)
Composed in 2016, 28 minutes

Guitar is an interesting instrument. Across virtually all genres, it remains an ongoing research project — in the best possible sense. It is an instrument that in general is somewhat undefined by any single approach. There are seemingly infinite ways to deploy the potential of what it offers. And in multiples, those potentials grow exponentially.

A few years back, I was flattered to have one of my compositions included in the LAGQ’s Grammy winning CD, Guitar Heroes. Not long after that the idea came up that I might someday write something new for them. The idea of writing a guitar quartet inspired by the talents of the LAGQ has been simmering somewhere in the back of my mind ever since. The thought of really addressing the instrument in a more formal way under the auspices of what this quartet has come to embody, not to mention the sheer, almost overwhelming individual skills of the four players, was something I really wanted to do. It was just a matter of finding the time I knew that I would need to do it.

Luckily for me, I am very busy as a bandleader and I feel privileged to be able to record and tour almost constantly with my own groups. But after a particularly active year in 2014, where I did more than 150 concerts around the world, I decided, for the first time, to take a year off from the road in 2015. Hopefully, I thought, I could get caught up with a few things. Kind of on my list was this lingering idea of finally writing something for the LAGQ. Near the end of the year, I saw a window opening up where I would have a few weeks that I might dedicate to this. With the approval of the guys and a few really useful tips from all of them, I jumped in, hoping to write a concert piece of 7 to 9 minutes. Two weeks later, I found myself with a nearly 30 minute, 6 movement treatise on the aforementioned potentials of what can happen in a multi-guitar format, blazingly inspired by the thought of hearing these four incredible guitarists play these notes. The piece just literally poured out.

In truth, as much as I am identified as being a guitarist myself, I don’t really spend a whole lot of time thinking about the instrument in a specific way. It has always been an almost inadvertent tool for me to translate ideas into sound, and mostly as an improviser at that. And in fact, when I do compose for various projects or for my bands, I almost always am doing it at the piano, a much more forgiving and logical universe to write in than the odd geometry of guitar-thought. But for this piece, I decided to really embrace the instrument and kind of get under the hood of a bunch of things that I do with the instrument, things that are somewhat identified with what it seems has now become my particular style, while at the same time reach for the narrative element of storytelling that is the imperative and primary function for me always as a musician.

And yet, with the piece now complete, as much as those components provided an aspirational environment to work from, the main quality that I think the piece offers is the emotional journey that it takes. Somehow through the challenge of writing for this unique platform and aiming it towards the hands of these especially talented players, I was able to get to a very personal area of what music itself is to me. It feels like a journey to me, almost a road trip in scale and scope.

In settling on the title Road to the Sun, I thought back to my trip up to Glacier National Park on the famous “Going-to-the-Sun” Road, the day after hearing LAGQ play live for the first time at a festival in Montana. It has been a thrill to get the chance to write for the amazing Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and I am very excited to hear what William, Scott, John and Matt will do on their journey with this work.

© Feb 2016, Pat Metheny

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Artist Bio

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet

For more than three decades, the members of the Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (John Dearman, Matthew Greif, William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant) have continually set the standard for expression and virtuosity within the guitar community. Their critically acclaimed transcriptions of concert masterworks provide a fresh look at the music of the past, while their interpretations of works from the contemporary and world-music realms continually break new ground.

The LAGQ, as it is popularly known, kicked off its 2016-17 season with a tour of Ireland, Germany and the Czech Republic, giving concerts and participating in festivals. Performances through the season include appearances in more than a dozen states. Next week it will present Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz with the Waco Symphony, and during the holiday season it will perform its Nutcracker Suite in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

After its premiere of Pat Metheny’s work this month, the LAGQ will introduce a second new work in April 2017, written by composer and former LAGQ member Andrew York with performances in Arizona and Washington, DC. Other recent premieres include last year’s How Little You Are for voices and guitars by Nico Muhly; and SHIKI: Seasons of Japan, a work written for LAGQ with guitar orchestra by Shingo Fujii, in response to the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The LAGQ has given recitals in many of the world’s top venues, including Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, Tokyo Opera City, and New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. It has toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia, where it was featured at the Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila International Arts Festivals. In 2015 the LAGQ served as artistic directors of the 2015 Laguna Beach Music Festival. It last appeared at 92Y in November 2009 with its innovative interpretation of the Don Quixote story, featuring music of medieval and Renaissance Spain. In 2012 the Mel Bay Artist Series released a DVD of the program, along with the LAGQ’s first live-concert DVD.

The LAGQ’s latest recording, New Renaissance, is a modern take on classic works. Released by Telarc last year, it includes the music from the Don Quixote program in an instrumental suite format, the French chansons heard on tonight’s concert, and new works by Bogdanovic and Krouse, based on Renaissance themes. Its discography of more than 15 recordings includes Guitar Heroes, which won a Grammy Award; LAGQ-Latin, which earned a Grammy nomination; LAGQ: Brazil, featuring vocalist Luciana Souza; and a disc of Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz and Sérgio Assad’s concerto for LAGQ, Interchange, which topped the Billboard charts and received a Latin Grammy nomination. The Quartet’s website is lagq.com.

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