24 feb. 2013

Andrew Forrest Video: Fiddlers playing

Lately in MGE we have seen a lot of the most important and famous figures of the classical guitar like Manuel Barrueco, David Russell or Sergio Assad. But there is a lot of people working to improve the guitar role in ensembles that aren’t well known to the general public.

Andrew Forrest is one of the people who is doing more for the guitar ensembles in the educational field. He has composed and arranged an amazing number of works for several guitar groups: duets, trios, quartets, etc.

And you can find them for free!!! Please, I encourage to you for visit it.

As a taster of the interview we’ll read in a few days here we want to share with you a little piece for Guitar quintet by way of example.

11 feb. 2013

Sergio Assad Interview II

Assad brothers: Talent, soul and magic (II)
Fernando Bartolomé Zofío for MGE. Guitar Festival. Córdoba. Julio 2012

Let’s talk about Roland Dyens’ Côtè Nord. I have been looking for everywhere but I have not found anything about it. Is there any recording of it? Why is it so unknown?
Côtè Nord is a very complex piece of music and is quite hard to play. It is one of the best pieces ever written for two guitars and we played it many times during a good number of years. Due to special recording projects involving other musicians that occupied our last ten years we weren’t able to record it as a duo. I believe however that there is at least one commercial recording made by the British duo Eden Stell.   

I know you have played almost all type of music but I can’t find traces of Bach or classical music period. Nikita Koshkin composed a work for you, but I haven’t got traces of interpretations or recordings of this work. Maybe Koshkin not seem to fit well with your music line. Did you take his work to the stage?
We played all kinds of music through our learning process and career. When we first came to Europe in the early 80’s we brought in our repertoire Sor, Carulli, Giuliani and even some Mozart. We used to play some Bach as well but not as much as we did Rameau and Scarlatti. Regarding Koshkin we played his Concertino for at least a couple of years back in the 80’s. There is a BBC broadcast of a live performance of it but we never recorded it in a commercial CD. In the 90’s he wrote another piece that we commissioned with the help of the Augustine Foundation.  I like Nikita’s music and consider him one of the greatest composers for the instrument.

Roland Dyens

What was the relationship between two living legends like you and Yo Yo Ma? How was the recording and rehearsals?
We met YoYo in a Boston’s recording studio back in 97. He was preparing his Soul of the Tango album, which won a Grammy that year. He was aware of our connection with Piazzolla and invited us to be part of his dedication to Astor. He wanted to play the Tango Suite, originally written for two guitars, and asked us to make a version for cello and guitars. After that recoding he invited us again for his Brazilian project Obrigado Brazil and kept saying that he wished to play in a trio form with us. Actually this happened this year in another project called Viva Brazil that has been recorded live by Sony and is released in  EP form through iTunes. YoYo is an amazing musician and eager to play all kinds of music. He is such a nice and fun person to be with and we always had a great time with him. The Viva Brazil project will come back in 2014. He will take it to Asia and Latin America. It is a leaving thing in the sense that we might keep renewing repertoire.

Brouwer’s Micro piezas. This composer has written many works and of such quality that sometimes we lose the true value of other works, less well known like the Micro Piezas. For me, these are little jewels of the camera guitar literature. What do you think about it? What does it make them so special?
I think Leo got inspired by Bartok’s Microkosmos and created these 4 miniatures based on traditional Cuban music. When these pieces appeared in the late  50’s they were one of a kind in the guitar world. The idea of exploring folkloric material was used by many composers including the great Villa Lobos but I suppose that was first applied to the guitar in a miniature form by Leo.

I knew something about your family, relate to music, especially about Badi Assad but nothing else. The other day I listened Ad lib work of Clarice Assad and I found it incredible. Amazing! Then I heard about a project you made with several members of your family and I listened something on the CD. Can you explain us how was your childhood in this environment full of music and talent?
Music was our parent’s passion and we grew up in a strong musical environment. We managed to pass a little bit of that passion to our kids and today at least two of them are musicians.

What is your current relationship with the family? Do you give mutual advices? Do you do criticize each others? Do you come together to play?
When Badi started to play the guitar she wanted to be like us, her older brothers. She learned the classical guitar and entered a couple of competitions when she was still very young. Actually she came on 2nd on the Villa Lobos international guitar competition in 1984 held in Rio de Janeiro. Not much later she gradually decided to move away from the classical guitar world and slowly managed to create her own personal voice with lots of originality. Lately my daughter Clarice is becoming an amazingly demanded classical contemporary composer. Besides that she is a great performer using her blend of scat singing and piano playing. We created a family quintet last year and started to write original music for it. The quintet reunites Odair, Badi, my daughter Clarice, Odair’s daughter Carolina and myself. We will be doing more and more in the years to come. It is a great pleasure to be able to travel with the family and create special music for the group.

Clarice Assad
Do not the kids look intimidated?
I don’t think so! They are not intimidated at all.  To tell you the truth I think Clarice is the most gifted musician among all of us.

How were they introduced into music? Did you ask for? Did you persuade them to? As parents, do you feel ignore by them? (I know something about that…)
They just followed the same path we did. We had music in the house all the time through our parents. Our kids were exposed to the same environment. Music is a gift. If you are born with it you must pursue it.

You are working on a concerto for two guitars and orchestra. Can you tell us about it?
I wrote a double guitar concerto a couple of years ago. We premiered it with the Seattle Symphony last year. Right now we are relearning it to play in Brazil next August.  Clarice wrote a new concerto called Album de Retratos for two guitars and large Orchestra.  The premiere is scheduled for October with the Ohio Symphony in Columbus.

What new projects are you working on?
We just finished this tour with YoYo Ma called Viva Brazil. This has been recorded live and is released by Sony records on ITunes in an EP form.  We will be working next year one more time with the great Cuban clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera in a couple of North American tours. Besides that we are quite busy with our teaching positions. Odair in Mons, Belgium and myself in San Francisco in the US.


5 feb. 2013

Sergio Assad Interview

Assad brothers: Talent, soul and magic (I)
Fernando Bartolomé Zofío for MGE. Guitar Festival. Córdoba. Julio 2012

I had the privilege to converse with Sergio Assad, one of the members of Assad duo, probably the most important duo in guitar history, about several interesting subjects relate to interpretation, arrangements, ensembles, repertoire or education for MGE. Since 1979 they are showing the world all they are capable of and making the people enjoy with the music. One of the reasons I devoted my life to music, in this case classical music, was the listening to their interpretation of the Piazzolla’s Tango suite.
Many of the most outstanding composers have written music for them, among others Dyens, Piazzolla, Koshkin, Nobre, Gnatalli, Krieger or Morel. Not only they enable us to have a wider repertoire for guitar by inspiring a lot of composers but they have made amazing arrangements of music that have been established like standards in the guitar duo repertoire.
Your career as musicians is full of works originally created for your duo, as well as arrangements of other music and collaborations with all types of musicians and groups. How do you proceed for the arrangements process? Is there a specific way for you to make them?
It has changed through time. In a first phase, in the 70’s and 80’s I adapted a lot of harpsichord and piano music for the two guitars. In a second phase, in the 90’s I started working on larger arrangements comprising more instruments. In my third phase now I’m back in arranging music for just two guitars but trying to be very creative around them. I treat a piece I want to arrange like if it was my own piece. Therefore I might change the harmony, the meter and draw ideas from the original material and reworking it like if I was composing the piece from scratch.


When we talk about arranging music, from your point of view, is it to adjust the music to the instrument or is there another kind of work that include remaking the music?
To arrange is the best ticket to get into composition. As an arranger your job is to start creating an intro to the piece you want to arrange and later through the arrangement you have to be able to develop ideas like in a regular composition. If you can make it sound fresh you could say that it is sort of remaking the music.
In the usual conservatory plans still prevails the individual technique and soloist figure as the main objective to be achieved over the chamber music and guitar ensembles that hold in secondary position. What do you think about that?
I know that this is a major problem once there is no space in the market for all the potential good soloists of today. Most of guitar students want to step on stage on their own and I think they miss the opportunity, while they are in the conservatories, to work with other musicians handling different instruments. If you get seriously enough about chamber music at the right time you might have a better chance of doing interesting stuff later with other musicians. I see this happening all the time within the jazz or world music scene and should be the same in the classical guitar world.

What value do you think you can get by playing in groups since the beginning of a learning process for the student’s musical and human training?
You can learn lots of things on your own but being all the time confined limits your ability to deal with so many other aspects of music. Guitarists tend to create ensemble of guitars, which is ok but is not ideal. The best is to play in small chamber settings where you really have to develop your reading skills, improve your dynamics, get a better sense of other instrumentalists input into music. Understand clearly the difference of plucked, bowed and wind instruments. If you are used to phrase with your guitar you can be quite surprised with the same phrase played by any other instrument specially when the sustain of notes can be longer. The only barrier here is actually the small repertoire for multi instruments ensembles comprising the guitar. It should be a general effort to create or try to create more repertoires.


In your case, both of you have studied music since childhood and the fact of being brothers and being together for so long turns musical understanding into a natural thing for you. For musicians and students who only know the others for the rehearsal time, what advice could you give them to improve their interpretation of the music and their personal understanding? Is it only about playing more time or is it about making agreements about the music, the entries, or the personal musical points of view?
Music can completely be explained by physical means. If you rehearse the right change of dynamics, rubato and articulation it is possible to play anything from a merely physical perspective. I do believe though that there is more than that in music. Music can express time periods and different cultures very well. One will be better off as a musician by diving deeper into social knowledge connected with different time periods and cultures. To play French baroque music for instance it really helps to understand how the French court behaved back then; their habits, their feasts, their gestures and so on.  Another example is the music of Astor Piazzolla, which is imbedded, in such a strong tradition as the tango. I’ve seen many people trying to play Piazzola without making any connection with the Argentinean tango. It helps to have heard Carlos Gardel or Anibal Troilo among others and to have watched the dance as well.