By Richard Anderson
The Liverpool Guitar Society got off to a great start last week, with a diverse bunch of guitarists braving the cold and building site to get together on Thursday 11th March at Liverpool Hope University. As well as several students from Hope University and Liverpool Universities, there were guitarists of all ages playing and chatting, and making plans for the future of the society.
Once introductions were made, the group discussed what each would like to get out of attending the society, and what the society could offer the wider community. A wide range of possible activities were suggested, and there was a real sense of optimism about the society, which has real potential to be a valuable addition to the Liverpool Cultural scene.
Once we were all ‘talked out’, Liverpool Uni music student Craig Innes very bravely offered to be the very first performer at the Liverpool Guitar Society. He played a wonderful rendition of Leo Brouwer’s Cancion de Cuna, from his ‘Two Popular Cuban Themes’. Craig is a big Brouwer fan, and I think he converted many of us with his lyrical and intricate performance.
Jenny Nelson followed with a selection from the first part of Albeniz’s Asturias (Leyanda), proving she’s also a gutsy performer! She played it very well, with a lovely tone, dynamic range and musicality. She discussed different ways of approaching the fast triplet figures, and how small adjustments can be made to make the overall effect more successful. I think all players found it really useful to hear her perspective.
Finally, Chris, a Hope student, played El Testament d’ Amelia by Miguel Llobet. Clearly a talented player, who has only been playing Classical Guitar for 2 years, Chris was technically spot on, despite setting himself a fast tempo (he said after finishing that sometimes when the nerves kick in he plays faster – I know the feeling!). He also had a nice tone, and a faultlessly regular sense of pulse to his playing, and carried off the difficult artificial harmonic sections well.
After being treated to 3 great performances, we split off into small ensembles and discussion groups, with Jen and Craig playing a couple of duets, and a group of 4 of us having a pop at the Forrest Ensemble arrangement of Faure’s Berceuse, from the Dolly Suite. Despite it being the first time playing with an ensemble for 3 out of 4 of us, we managed to get some nice results. It’s a nice simple arrangement with some understated musical climaxes, which we tried to coax out by carefully following the dynamics (although we couldn’t follow the pianissimo markings in a room full of people chatting!). Thanks to the York-based guitarist, teacher and composer Andrew Forrest, for the huge range of invaluable free resources on his website – there’s loads of guitar ensemble music on his website, which I’m sure we will be making use of at our meetings.
For the beginning classical guitarists who came along, we agreed that we’d organise a kind of ‘buddying’ scheme for the next meeting, with the more advanced players working with them in small groups. Before long, all the regulars will be able to get involved in some large ensemble playing.
I know for me, it was great to be playing with other guitarists again, and I was pleased to see so many friendly, talented and proactive guitarists in one place. The next meeting is at 7pm on Thursday 25th March, where I hope to see even more guitarists getting together and making great music!
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