Time has really been flying since I wrote the last blog update in the spring so I'm trying to remember everything that's happened in the past few months... I'll try to go in chronological order!
Photo: Rachel Clarke Photography
In 2021, I was part of the Classical Minds Guitar Festival online and had the pleasure of playing a guitar by Steve Toon for the festival. Obviously I fell in love with it and knew that if I was going to get a new guitar it had to be one made by Steve so at the end of 2022, I put in my order and by April 2023 I had my new guitar! It's one of Steve's 'Cedar Model F' guitars and - for the guitar nerds - here are the specs:
Ultrathin master grade Cedar soundboard
Double laminated sides
Bracing based on Daniel Freidrich late 80's cedar guitars
I tried both a cedar and a spruce guitar by Steve and it was quite a difficult decision as they were both so beautiful but after sleeping (with difficulty) on it, I knew that the cedar was the one for me. After a few months I can really hear things starting to open up and I'm having a lot of fun exploring the beautiful palette of the instrument.
Since April, I've been playing with Ged Barry as duo Bossa Bella. We are playing Latin jazz with me on the guitar (obv) and Ged on flute as well as doing a bit of percussion too. I love Latin American music on the guitar and have been learning so much about Latin jazz as well as developing some much needed ensemble skills so we're having a lot of fun! We have a residency at the fabulous Tallulah's Emporium on Victoria Rd, New Brighton, so keep your eyes on by Events/ page for all of our gig dates there - it's such a fab atmosphere (with some delicious cheese and wine offers!)
I've also had a few solo gigs too, notably: a couple of Museums Sessions Live performances for Eurovision Culture Festival 2023 at Walker Art Gallery and Lady Lever Art Gallery, back in Southport for Midweek Music, and at Birkenhead Priory. At Midweek Music, my programme was 'Oro Europeo': music from 19th century Europe, which included works from my MMus Performance 1 exam. On the menu was:
Prelude No. 1 - Emilia Giuliani-Guglielmi
Le fandango varie, Op. 16 - Dionisio Aguago
Forgotton, Sadness - Catharina Josepha Pratten
Endecha y Oremus - Francisco Tarrega
Variazioni su un tema di Mercadente, Op. 7 - Emilia Giuiani-Guglielmi
At Birkenhead Priory, I played a mix of repertoire from Dowland to Jobim and also played the first movement of Oxton-born composer Cyril Scott's guitar Sonatina. This was a really special moment for me as I've loved the piece for a long time and I finally had an opportunity to play it in public for the first time, and in front of the Cyril Scott memorial wall in the Priory, no less.
As mentioned above, I had my MMus 1 Performance, completed my chamber music exam, and submitted my 'Professional Project' at Royal Welsh since the last blog post - quite a whirlwind fitting it all in! I was due to finish the course at the end of August with my final recital but have recently taken the decision to defer the exam to the next exam period. This will give me more time to spend with the repertoire and will, hopefully, leave me feeling a bit more positive and confident about things. It's been tougher than I thought trying to fit everything in, but I know I've made the right decision and will be engrossing myself in some beefy pieces for the final recital. Let's do this!!
So, over the rest of the summer break I'm going to play as much music as I can whilst I'm working less and try to reignite the practice passion - I'm already feeling more inspired and have been finally reading through some pieces I set aside and never quite get round to looking at properly (at the moment, it's music by Errollyn Wallen and Vicente Asencio).
I'm looking forward to playing again at Classical Minds Festival, this time in person, in October with Artistic Director Valerie Hartzell and fellow faculty member Daniela Rossi (#GuitarGirls - how fabulous!). Do come along if you're a guitarist; the weekend will be full of workshops, classes, performance opportunities, and concerts - it's going to be so fun, I can't wait!
Big shout out and thank you to my amazing friend and photographer Rachel Clarke, who took some fabulous new photos for me with my new guitar and has given my website a much needed colourful update. Check her out for headshots, events, and wedding photography! Rachel Clarke Photography
Happy summer and look forward to catching up with you soon!