A fabulous flamenco-classical guitar fusion will take place this spring in Melbourne at the Melbourne International Guitar Festival (MIGF), 2017.
Michael MacManus and Evan Hopkins Directors and Founders have planned an array of landmark events to be held in the Melba Hall, University of Melbourne, 22 – 24 September 2017.
Stalls by notable guitar luthiers, dealers and local music stores will be sure to attract the crowd. “Since our first festival in 2015, the MIGF has grown to see its concert artists, competition entrants and festival guests hailing from all corners of the globe,” says Michel MacManus. “The festival this year will be host to some of the world’s finest classical and flamenco guitarists from Italy, Spain and Australia.”
Most classical guitar and flamenco guitar recitals are solo or duo sensations. Bringing both styles and artist together and providing an opportunity for them to communicate and converse with another musically should have outstanding results for the audience and the future of the genre.
Flamenco is generally associated with dance and song, the cultural traditions of the nomadic group of Roma peoples who live throughout Europe, the majority dwelling in Andalusia, Southern Spain having migrated from Rajasthan (in northwest India) from the 9th to the 14th centuries.
Deeply felt emotions lie at the heart of flamenco dance and music. Male dancers perform intricate footwork with a proud carriage, while female dancers wear elaborately ruffled dresses emphasizing the beauty of their hands and movement of their upper torso.
Deriving from a marriage of Arabic and Spanish folk songs fusing with Spain’s unique “Rock Andaluz” movement centred in Sevilla during the 1970s and ’80s, the flamenco tradition took flight and became one of Spain’s great contributions to world cultural evolution.
UNESCO has declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
It requires considerable technical skill to perform and has at its essence a rhythmic song, which accompanies the Baile or dance.
The accompanying guitarist (tocoar) keeps the rhythm (compás) necessary to the dancer’s individual rhythmic cadences, often following them as they give a fiery performance.
Milan based award winning American classical guitarist Lorenzo Micheli is headlining the festival. A winner of the GFA International Concert Artist Competition, Lorenzo Micheli has performed some 600 concerts throughout Europe and America. He originally studied Greek and Latin literature at University and today teaches at the University School of Music in Lugano, Switzerland.
Lorenzo Micheli is also Artist in Residence at both the University of Colorado Boulder and Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, and serves as a member of the guest faculty at “Universidad Pedro de Olavide” in Sevilla, Spain, and the Conservatorio “A. Boito” in Parma, Italy.
Outstanding to hear that the dynamic duo of Australian fearless flamenco guitarists Gerard Mapstone and Richard Tedesco will be presenting works both past and present, honouring the traditions and presenting the sounds inspired by the poetry and passion infused in the music they adore.
Brisbane born Gerard Mapstone performs high energy flamenco guitar, with the addition of multi layered sounds and contagious rhythms. A composer and virtuoso musician, he delivers strength and vitality at each performance.
He toured the United Kingdom with flamenco fusion group Candela and over the years has formed a fierce following of fiery fans of which I am one. He has played at Woodford and all national folk festivals.
Originally graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, having been awarded the university prize for guitar, Gerard Mapstone lived at Jerez de la Frontera a Province of Cadiz in Spain for a while, where he followed his dreams and honed his technique. Having completed a Masters degree at Melbourne University VCA & MCM with a thesis on 21st century flamenco, he is now also part of their post graduate research community.
Gerard Mapstone has enjoyed creative collaborations with the sensational Doch Gypsy Orchestra, music wizards Shenzo Gregorio and Shenzo’s Electric Stunt Orchestra, The Queensland Ballet, Siberian Circus and Camerata of St John’s (Queensland Chamber Orchestra) to name a few, exciting experiences helping to expand both his knowledge and love of flamenco.
He and Richard Tedesco play together in Melbourne with Arte Kanela, renowned for delivering emotionally charged performances, enticing an ‘intimate and visceral response’ from their audiences.
The Melbourne Guitar Foundation, which funds the festival, has already declared Australian born classical guitarist Andrew Blanch “one of Australia’s foremost classical guitarists”.
Andrew Blanch is currently a candidate for a PhD and has already gathered a legion of followers and admirers of his playing around him. He impressively won first place in the Melbourne International Guitar Competition (2016) and the Whitworth-Roach Classical Music Competition (2015).
Since graduating with first class honours from the Australian National University in Canberra, Andrew Blanch has toured at home and abroad, giving recitals in Paris, London and Washington DC as well as with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Alumni Orchestra and enjoyed widespread success with his debut CD Spanish Guitar Music.
Guitars in design may have started out the same, but as the instrument became popular the maker (a luthier) would often drew on a diversity of materials and decorations to cater for different cost structures.
It really wasn’t until one sensational guitarist from Linares in Spain came along that everything began to change for our time. Virtuoso Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia (Torres) 1st Marquis of Salobreña (1893-1987) is today regarded as one of the greatest ‘classical guitarists’ of all time.
Segovia was a catalyst for taking the guitar into the serious concert arena and in his hands it moved from a folk instrument to becoming a ‘staple of symphonies’. He transposed great Baroque style works written for flute by some of the great composers such as Jean-Philippe Rameau and Johann Sebastian Bach.
He developed and expanded the techniques for playing and plucking the strings by using a combination of fingernails and fingertips. One of the first to use new nylon strings rather than catgut strings after WWII, he helped to advance standardization of the modern instrument.
Also a champion of contemporary works, Segovia won the 1958 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance, Instrumentalist, and was ennobled by the King of Spain in 1981 for his contribution to music and the arts.
The Melbourne Guitar Quartet (MGQ) consisting of Michael MacManus, Jeremy Totenham, Daniel McKay and Benjamin Dix are a vibrant guitar based chamber ensemble with a rich and beautiful sound. They recently won the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Contemporary Masters award for the second year in a row.
Founded in 2005 the quartet play bass guitar, baritone guitar, standard guitar, treble and octave guitar, producing groundbreaking arrangements of major works dedicated to developing the chamber music repertoire.
Masterclasses will be held over the weekend by Lorenzo Micheli, Ken Murray (Head of Guitar, University of Melbourne) and Andrew Blanch and Bryce Leader will give a presentation on his sight-reading for beginners book: Copy, Play and Learn.
Annually the MIGF hosts a competition with Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Concert Artist categories available and artists will compete for large cash prizes in each category with a $10,000 first prize for the Concert Artist competition, which includes an 8 concert Australian tour.
Sounds like a very full, fabulous fiery and fulfilling few days. Ole!
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017
22-24 September, 2017
Melba Hall, University of Melbourne