This weekend just gone was definitely one of the best. I went to London to be a part of this year's International Guitar Foundation summit with Yvonne, Chair of the LGS and also my duo partner.
If you've not heard of the IGF, here is a little bit about them (taken from their website):
Founded in 1993, International Guitar Foundation (IGF) is an arts agency dedicated to the promotion, understanding and enjoyment of the guitar, its music and artists. Our work is defined by the Listen.Play.Create programme which features the guitar as the ideal vehicle for diverse and accessible concert and festival programming (Listen), participatory music making (Play) and contributes to the instrument’s heritage through an extensive commissioning programme (Create).
Since 1995, Tom Kerstens has been the Artistic Director and has commissioned over 80 new works for the guitar.
We were there for the Saturday and took part in a range of fabulous guitar activity. In the morning, I had an lesson with Kevin Cahill. I played the second movement of Claudia Montero's Tres colores portenos and we spoke about tensions in the music; how to sustain and release effectively as well as technical aspects such as vibrato and volume creation. During the course of the morning, I also saw the Chris Stell (from the Eden Stell Guitar Duo) masterclass and observed the guitar orchestra playing in preparation for their concert on Sunday afternoon.
The afternoon was definitely the highlight of the trip: I played for guitar maestro Leo Brouwer. It's safe to say I was a complete bag of nerves all morning (especially after seeing him have breakfast in our hotel in the morning...!) but as soon as I stepped on to the stage I was completely put at ease. I played Lejania by Maria Luisa Anido, a composer and player Brouwer admired. Sometimes, masterclasses with guitarists have quite a heavy focus on technicality but Leo Brouwer gave advice that was much more focused on musicality: something which I found incredibly useful. Instead of thinking about the piece as an isolated entity, he thought and discussed the general context around the piece (the fact that the piece is part of a set of preludes, the era in which it was composed etc.) which helped in they way I thought about expressing it. As well giving me some great feedback and advice on how to improve, he also discussed the importance of doing a proper warm up, researching and listening to a wide variety of repertoire (not just classical guitar music, of course) and choosing repertoire wisely. Throughout the afternoon, I saw a number of other guitarists plays for him and realised just how knowledgeable he is and how carefully he can pick up on subtleties and completely transform a person's musicality.
In the evening, we saw classical guitar giant, David Russell, play... what beautiful sounds! He played music by Bach, Weiss, Maxwell-Davies and gave the England premiere of David's Portrait composed for him by Sergio Assad. It was amazing - what more can one say!
All lessons, masterclasses and concerts took place in Kings Place. It was a great opportunity to mix with other classical guitarists and make contacts outside of the Liverpool guitar world.
Yvonne played for Tom Kerstens and Daniela Rossi (the fabulous Cambridge based Argentine classical guitarist).
Having the honour to play for Leo Brouwer is something I will treasure forever!