A Lively Dance from Spain


Every weekday morning I play what I call a “guitar pick.” It’s a work featuring the guitar. It can be as a solo instrument, in a chamber setting or with orchestra. This week I played two works called Fandango.

The Fandango is a quick Spanish dance intended originally for 2 dancers. The more popular fandangos of today are accompanied by castanets or hand-claps. The earliest known form of the form appeared int eh early 1700’s. It was quickly developed into a musical form by the time the two fandangos I presented were written, around 1800. Rameau and Scarlatti were the first well-known composers to use the fandango in their compositions. Fandangos are still be written today as a lively dance piece or as a showy concert work.

This week’s guitar picks:
Louis Moreau Gottschalk – Fantasy on Brazilian National Anthem – Alvaro Henrique, guitar
Cesar Franck – Prelude, Fugue and Variation, Op. 18 – Amadeus Guitar Duo
Salvador Castro de Gistau – Fandango – Thomas Schmitt
Edvard Grieg – Valse Melancolique – Peter Fletcher
Dionysio Aguado – Fandango – Thomas Schmitt

My ukulele pick this week is an original song by a very original Miami-based artist, Rachel Goodrich.

A Guitarist Without a Country


Every weekday at 10:30am I play what I call a “guitar pick.” It’s a work featuring the guitar. It can be as a solo instrument, in a chamber setting or with orchestra. One of the works I featured was L’encouragement by Fernando Sor.

Fernando Sor (pictured), a Spaniard, was born into a military family. Although he, too, joined the military Sor become more interested in music as he got older. He first became interested in music after his father took him to the opera. The interest grew, but his parents wanted him to concentrate on his Latin studies. Sor convinced them of his love of music by writing songs in Latin as set to his own unique music notation (He hadn’t seen standard sheet music yet).

Before he wrote for guitar, the instrument was used manly in taverns. But Sor started writing serious salon and concert pieces for the guitar. After a failed attempt to work in France, Sor settled in England. Most guitarists could not play the intricate works Sor composed, so he had to be his own music’s chief exponent. He eventually lived in Russia and then back in France at the end of his career. He taught a new generation his guitar techniques, securing his works in the repertoire for decades to come.

Edvard Grieg – Lyric Pieces – Peter Fletcher
Leonhard von Call – Sonata for Guitar no 2 in a minor, Op. 22
Fernando Sor – L’encouragement, Op. 34 – Julian Bream and John Williams
Domenico Scarlatti – Sonata, K.319 – Fabio Zaban

This week’s ukulele pick is my friend Ian Emmerson who…well, you just have to watch.

Spanish-flavored French Music


Every weekday at 10:30am I play what I call a “guitar pick.” It’s a work featuring the guitar. It can be as a solo instrument, in a chamber setting or with orchestra. On Monday I played a guitar trio by François de Fossa. De Fossa was born in 1775 in the south of France. Besides being a guitarist and composer, De Fossa was an officer in the French military. His trios show a similarity to the Italian composer Luigi Boccherini who made his living in Spain. Among De Fossa’s works is a set of guitar duos with some movements consisting of transcriptions of movements from Symphonies by Joseph Haydn.

This week’s guitar picks:
François de Fossa – Guitar Trio, Op. 18: no 1 – Wynberg, Simon; Beaver, Martin; Epperson, Bryan
Scott Joplin – The Easy Winners – Giovanni de Chiaro
Nicolo Paganini – “Moses” Variations – Gil Shaham and Goran Sollscher
Joaquin Rodrigo – 3 Spanish Pieces – Eduardo Fernandez

This week’s ukulele pick is a song by Toronto-based Zoe Henderson with a sweet original song:

A Flamenco-styled Concerto


Every weekday at 10:30am I play what I call a “guitar pick.” It’s a work featuring the guitar. It can be as a solo instrument, in a chamber setting or with orchestra. Thursday’s pick was by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo. Rodrigo lost his eyesight due to illness when he was three years old. He began learning music and instruments (piano and violin) when he was eight. He composed mostly for piano, but a work he wrote for guitar and orchestra in 1939, Concierto de Aranjuez, with its famous 2nd movement was to establish him in the public eye as a composer for the guitar. That work’s sucess led to other commissions for guitar – or guitars – with orchestra. Concierto Malaga is influenced by the sounds of flamenco music. Rodrigo’s work with the Romeros would continue including works for 2- and 4 guitars with orchestra.

Manuel de Falla – Miller’s Dance – Eduardo Fernandez, guitar
Anonymous – Romance – William Gomez, guitar
Joaquin Rodrigo – Conceirto Malaga – Pepe Romero, guitar
Manuel Ponce – 3 Popular Mexican Songs – Adam Holman, guitar

My ukulele pick is a Song for Everybody by my friend – a Nashville-base songwriter – named Matt Lindahl.

Neil Rao: Where is He Now?

Headshot (1)

Classical 90.5’s Young Artist Competition showcases our region’s top musical talent. Every fall kids ages 8-18 compete for a spot in our live on-air studio recital.

But where do our winners go from there?

I caught up with our 2010 Young Artist Competition Winner Neil Rao, a percussionist and marimbist who recently played Carnegie Hall with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

Neil talked about the the weightiness of playing in Carnegie Hall, the work it took to get there, and gave advice to young musicians who are trying to make it in the music world.

He said it really boils down to three things: practicing, people skills, and your motivation- really having a cultivated reason for why you are a musician.

And why is Neil a musician?

“I’m a musician because I love spreading the joy that comes across people’s faces and comes across people’s hearts when they hear these wild sounds from every single spectrum of emotion you can have.”

Listen to Neil’s story and watch him playing his original composition below: