Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Dirck Nagy
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by Dirck Nagy » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:50 am

mcg wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:24 pm
Now please don't bite my head off, but I have recently found myself wondering if classical performers could do more to make their 'shows' more interesting.

The paradigm of audience walking in, artist(s) playing set repertoire, audience applauding, audience walking out etc seems somewhat arcane. How about shows with strong stories, themes or narratives that overlie the music? How about collaboration with other artists (actors? visual artists? film makers? photographers?) to create something more dimensional than a straightforward classical music recital?
Hi "mcg"

Well, historically, this is what Opera was: a combination of Music, Literature, Drama, Dance, Visual Art, Architecture, Costume and Textiles, and sometimes even Religion and politics, all blended together into a whole. Nowadays, of course, all we have are the remnants: e.g. the banality of The Heavy Metal Concert, which pretty much tries to do the same thing.

But not every Multi-Media event needs to have lasers, dancing dwarves, and a model of Stonehenge!


Thinking about it more constructively, every show is a "multi-media" event. Many people are ignorant of this, but we simultaneously get input from ALL our senses. This begins with the choice of a venue: large or small? indoors or out? hot or cold? color and brightness of light? proximity to stage? printed program? dress "code"? texture of walls & decor? Is wine being served? We get plenty of visual and tactile sensations before a single note is played!

Moving farther along the continuum: most concerts I see, even from our local ensembles, are based along programmatic themes. I think this is pretty much essential to a successful performance. Even something as basic as "Fast-slow-fast", or "a Christmas Concert" or choosing something memorable and tuneful for the final piece counts.

I have been to many recitals where relevant works of Art were displayed during the performance (I have even done this myself!) ranging from a display of paintings at the entrance of the hall, to photographs projected onto a screen alongside the performer. If done right, the combination enhances the meaning of each opposing media; for example, a performance of Tedesco's Caprichos de Goya can make a lot more sense if Goya's etchings can be seen during the performance, or the music of Platero y Yo along with a narrator reading the relevant chapter, etc.

However, sometimes the subtle restraint of a "traditional" concert is part of the appeal, you know: dress up, have a nice meal, see the concert, go out for drinks and dessert afterwards... hey, we have the opportunity to savor the aristocratic life for a few brief hours!


But i think one of the biggest difficulties is the act of collaborating. What gets center stage...the Soprano or the Art Installation? Someone, an impresario, needs to be in charge. And artists are notorious individualists; we wouldn't want the Soprano storming offstage because the color of her gown clashed with the slide show. It is a rare musician who has enough understanding of other arts to be able to program them effectively!


If you want "interesting", well, do something different. It doesn't have to be shocking, just different. Try performing in a stairwell, or at a friend's auto shop. I have done both, and while I'm not famous, I think a few people might at least remember the show!

"mcg", I think you should plan your own recitals! Make events out of them! Find out what works. Eventually, you might build up a circle of like-minded Art-folks. Who knows where it might lead?

Cheers!
dirck
Last edited by Dirck Nagy on Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

man-argentina
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by man-argentina » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:01 am

Sure could be done, why not ? We live in a momment anything could be done.

Going to be people that like the traditional way, and others who preffer a different one.

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Peter Frary
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by Peter Frary » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:04 am

I've enjoyed playing for various multimedia performances, working with projections, dancers, other musicians, props, spoken dialog and a massive sound system. I had a lot of fun and the multimedia presentation is more understandable to the layman and, thus, generates larger audiences. As a paying an audience member I prefer a stripped down performance: just guitar and guitarist on stage playing their heart out. I find the other elements detract from the music. And music is all I care about when I buy a ticket. However, there is room for both approaches and a multimedia collaboration is a wonderful way to introduce our esoteric art to the general public.

I've even tried my hand at a bit of recorded multimedia, combining my musical compositions and photography. Didn't fly too well on YouTube—playing warhorses attract a lot more viewers—but it was fun putting it together:
I play a Tiny Tenor 6 so I look taller on stage!

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lucy
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by lucy » Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:24 pm

Smudger5150 wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:31 pm
I'm sure there will be musicians out there who might play with the format a little. And they'll have to adjust accordingly depending on the feedback from the audience and where their muse leads them.
Well, I'm experimenting with singing! I'm not very good at it yet, but I think the odd song might enhance a guitar recital. I don't mean classical singing, but songs that can justifiably be called standards in popular music.

Of course, there will always be a place for straight classical guitar concerts, but I think we should try reach a wider audience too.

When singing was first suggested to me, a few years back, by a world famous concert guitarist, I baulked at it. In recent years, I've come round to the idea. He also asked me when my next "show" was, recently. I think even the ukulele might find a place!

I've don't know how this will play out in the long run, but it's worth exploring, I think. It seems very left-field.

What I'd like to know is are there any classical guitarists in the world doing anything like this? I can't think of anyone at all.
"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world."
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mcg
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by mcg » Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:50 pm

I think it's a great idea Lucy

Why not expand your appeal and versatility as a musician? A good musician (*and I know you are a fabulous solo recitalist) should have more strings to their bow and easily be able to adapt and play a broader range of settings and venues.

Outside of the extremely narrow (and apparently!) conservative setting of solo classical guitar recital, there is limited appeal for concert solo guitar repertoire. You may get a level of buy in from a general crowd in certain settings but, as a rule, you simply need to play more accessible music if you want to perform in a broader ambit.

I have experience of classical guitar and singing because I play in a duo with a soprano. Sometimes I will pay solo before she joins me. We play a mixture of things broadly categorised into 1) traditional pieces, 2) 'classicalised' pop/jazz and 3) classical music duets.

The human voice is by far the best ensemble combination with guitar (in my opinion). Classical guitar and voice can be simply divine. And (shh), no, not many people are doing it. Laura Snowden has done some singing in her own compositions. This is more ethereal in style than the 'standards' approach you are talking about.

I imagine playing classical guitar and singing is quite hard?? Have you contemplated joining forces with a singer?
Last edited by mcg on Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

Smudger5150
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by Smudger5150 » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:32 am

lucy wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:24 pm
..
Well, I'm experimenting with singing!
..
Good on you! I've always wondered about trying a Dowland song or 2 but I don't think my voice would be up to it.
However, I think there are plenty of songs in the non-classical/non-art-music sphere (pop, folk, rock, reggae, whatever) that can be done which can involve anything from simple strumming to intricate fingerstyle/'classical' technique.
I've done a few myself at folk club/open mic nights to varying degree of success.
My previous classical guitar teacher even gave me the music to Queen's Love of my Life to play although we never progressed to trying to sing it too.
"Music washes away the dust of every day life." Art Blakey

"If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it." Louis Armstrong

mcg
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by mcg » Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:44 am

Thanks for your thoughts dirck

I have always thought that classical music and visual arts go together in some way. In addition to your example Tippett, Neilsen and Mussorgsky (amongst others) have used paintings as starting points for musical works.

I have a friend who is a simply fantastic photographer and I have thought about the idea of setting projections of her photo essays to a particular suite of music. The idea is on the back burner as both of us are pretty busy for the first half of this year.

I sometimes think that some of the more textural modern guitar pieces (e.g. Brouwer) might benefit from having a visual anchor.

I can't fault your advice and think collaborations can arise quite naturally exactly in the way you suggest. Do different stuff yourself, be open, meet interesting people...

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:44 am

mcg wrote:I have a friend who is a simply fantastic photographer and I have thought about the idea of setting projections of her photo essays to a particular suite of music. The idea is on the back burner as both of us are pretty busy for the first half of this year.
I have provided musical narrative (rather like a movie score) for the work of various photographic societies - it works well to the extent that comments are often made regarding the ambiguous and shifting manner in which the music supports the imagery and vice versa. Comes with a ready-made audience!

Go for it when you can.
Dirck Nagy wrote:Thinking about it more constructively, every show is a "multi-media" event. Many people are ignorant of this, but we simultaneously get input from ALL our senses. This begins with the choice of a venue: large or small? indoors or out? hot or cold? color and brightness of light? proximity to stage? printed program? dress "code"? texture of walls & decor? Is wine being served? We get plenty of visual and tactile sensations before a single note is played!
Well said Dirck, so important and yet so often neglected (although sometimes out of the performer's control). Lighting is especially critical and worth taking time over, also the pre-performance ambience which is impacted by countless factors - including the weather. Take control of what you can and try to respond actively to what you cannot.

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lucy
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by lucy » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:10 pm

mcg wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:50 pm
I think it's a great idea Lucy

Why not expand your appeal and versatility as a musician? A good musician (*and I know you are a fabulous solo recitalist) should have more strings to their bow and easily be able to adapt and play a broader range of settings and venues.
Thanks mcg. Not quite sure about the fabulous!! Still working on it... :wink:

Yes, exactly. I think it's good to have more strings to your bow.
mcg wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:50 pm
Outside of the extremely narrow (and apparently!) conservative setting of solo classical guitar recital, there is limited appeal for concert solo guitar repertoire. You may get a level of buy in from a general crowd in certain settings but, as a rule, you simply need to play more accessible music if you want to perform in a broader ambit.

I already do this. I've found myself living in two musical worlds! As well as more classical environments, like Romsey Abbey, I'm involved in a local network of singer-songwriters and poets. I got into this, through an acoustic open mic down the road. They're really appreciative of my classical guitar playing and I've now been trying out singing too.
mcg wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:50 pm
I have experience of classical guitar and singing because I play in a duo with a soprano. Sometimes I will pay solo before she joins me. We play a mixture of things broadly categorised into 1) traditional pieces, 2) 'classicalised' pop/jazz and 3) classical music duets.
Fantastic. :) This is basically what I do, except I'm also doing the singing, with ukulele mainly, but I do one song with guitar.
mcg wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:50 pm
The human voice is by far the best ensemble combination with guitar (in my opinion). Classical guitar and voice can be simply divine. And (shh), no, not many people are doing it. Laura Snowden has done some singing in her own compositions. This is more ethereal in style than the 'standards' approach you are talking about.
Yes, I've heard this. It sounds really nice and very mysterious!!
mcg wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:50 pm
I imagine playing classical guitar and singing is quite hard?? Have you contemplated joining forces with a singer?
Yes I did, initially. I asked someone to sing a particular song with me, but they didn't want to do it. Then I thought, I'll have a go at this myself. Below is that song. It's the only one I do with guitar, so far. It's not possible to do with ukulele, because you simply can't play that arpeggio on a 4 string uke, with re-entrant tuning!

It's a home recording, only available via this link. I shall keep it up for a limited time. I know it needs a bit more work and I've not produced this standard in live performance, yet. However, it was a straight run through, (in the comfort of my home), with only one edit and it's not multi-tracked. I play and sing at the same time.

"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world."
Robert Louis Stevenson

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muirtan
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by muirtan » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:25 pm

Dirck Nagy wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:50 am
mcg wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:24 pm
Now please don't bite my head off, but I have recently found myself wondering if classical performers could do more to make their 'shows' more interesting.

The paradigm of audience walking in, artist(s) playing set repertoire, audience applauding, audience walking out etc seems somewhat arcane. How about shows with strong stories, themes or narratives that overlie the music? How about collaboration with other artists (actors? visual artists? film makers? photographers?) to create something more dimensional than a straightforward classical music recital?


If you want "interesting", well, do something different. It doesn't have to be shocking, just different. Try performing in a stairwell, or at a friend's auto shop. I have done both, and while I'm not famous, I think a few people might at least remember the show!

"mcg", I think you should plan your own recitals! Make events out of them! Find out what works. Eventually, you might build up a circle of like-minded Art-folks. Who knows where it might lead?

Cheers!
dirck
Or as I mentioned in a post last year, a concert on a small boat in the middle of the north Norfolk salt marshes. More are planned for this year I believe not just for solo guitar but guitar/tenor and guitar /violin if all goes according to plan.

Dirck Nagy
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by Dirck Nagy » Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:15 pm

Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:44 am
... Lighting is especially critical and worth taking time over, also the pre-performance ambience which is impacted by countless factors -...
One of my favorite venues for chamber music was Foote Music Hall at the old Colorado Women's College in Denver (later bought by the University of Denver...although it was getting pretty run-down by then). It was 1960s modern, a fairly narrow, quite tall room with unusually wide seats. I think the capacity was about 300. The back half of the seating was so steep that a person sitting in front could wear a hat without obstructing the view. Solo guitar sounded GREAT; I saw recitals there by Ricardo Iznaola, Jonathan Leathwood, and Marco Socias, among others.

But the best part was the way it looked: an entire wall of the lobby was a mural etched & painted onto a sheet of stainless steel. The wainscotting inside went nearly to the ceiling and was wood paneled with "bump-outs" to prevent parallel surfaces. Above this, the wall was white, but was lit with a combination of red, blue and violet lights above the stage, giving it a "twilight in a magic garden" effect once the house lights went down. I swear I could smell the Olive groves and Tempranillo...

cheers!
dirck

mcg
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by mcg » Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:48 pm

Good on you! I've always wondered about trying a Dowland song or 2 but I don't think my voice would be up to it.
You might want to 'outsource' the singing for something of that nature/difficulty!

Yes, there are wonderful Dowland pieces for soprano/guitar. Sor wrote about 40 pieces for soprano/guitar, Rodrigo.....
Last edited by mcg on Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mcg
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by mcg » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:01 pm

It's a home recording, only available via this link. I shall keep it up for a limited time. I know it needs a bit more work and I've not produced this standard in live performance, yet. However, it was a straight run through, (in the comfort of my home), with only one edit and it's not multi-tracked. I play and sing at the same time.
I'm surprised and impressed that you can play and sing that particular piece at the same time! I wouldn't be able to keep up arpeggios like that and sing over the top. Probably says something about men being unable to multi-task!

What you are doing (i.e. singing, playing more accessible music) makes a lot of sense to me. Solo classical guitar at performance level is highly demanding. I do perform solo guitar (not anywhere near your level) and know the amount of work and commitment it takes not just to play pieces, but to be capable of delivering them securely in a performance environment. It really makes sense to have another, less arduous musical outlet where you can play music for pure fun.

Smudger5150
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by Smudger5150 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:30 am

mcg wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 9:48 pm
Good on you! I've always wondered about trying a Dowland song or 2 but I don't think my voice would be up to it.
You might want to 'outsource' the singing for something of that nature/difficulty!

Yes, there are wonderful Dowland pieces for soprano/guitar. Sor wrote about 40 pieces for soprano/guitar, Rodrigo.....
Well you're probably right! I have the 'Treasures of my minde' by Virelai with Catherine King and I find her singing very beautiful and far beyond what I could manage, even accounting for my potential baritone level transcription.
"Music washes away the dust of every day life." Art Blakey

"If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it." Louis Armstrong

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lucy
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Re: Concerts/recitals - time for more imagination?

Post by lucy » Tue Mar 19, 2019 1:34 pm

mcg wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:01 pm
It's a home recording, only available via this link. I shall keep it up for a limited time. I know it needs a bit more work and I've not produced this standard in live performance, yet. However, it was a straight run through, (in the comfort of my home), with only one edit and it's not multi-tracked. I play and sing at the same time.
I'm surprised and impressed that you can play and sing that particular piece at the same time! I wouldn't be able to keep up arpeggios like that and sing over the top. Probably says something about men being unable to multi-task!
Thanks! :)
mcg wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:01 pm
What you are doing (i.e. singing, playing more accessible music) makes a lot of sense to me. Solo classical guitar at performance level is highly demanding. I do perform solo guitar (not anywhere near your level) and know the amount of work and commitment it takes not just to play pieces, but to be capable of delivering them securely in a performance environment. It really makes sense to have another, less arduous musical outlet where you can play music for pure fun.
Yes, I agree.

However, I haven't given up on playing solo guitar to a much higher level! It's just that singing as well makes me more versatile.

Basically, there's quite a bit more in the tank, as regards my solo guitar playing. I'm not talking about doing tons of extra practise, by the way, it's more to do with attitude. Of course, some things will benefit from more practise, though.

A very fine UK based player told me very recently I wasn't playing at my best, even now.
"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world."
Robert Louis Stevenson

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