When anyone asks me what I do I tell them that I play and teach classical guitar. And yet this doesn’t really describe all of my activities. I’ve discussed the need to diversify stylistically in order to make a living as a musician, and this is a concept that I take very seriously. For example, this past Saturday I gave a concert with the North American Choro Ensemble, which is certainly not classical guitar. In fact, even in the choro ensemble we have recognized the importance of mixing things up a bit, and our concert included some sambas and bossa novas. When playing choros, I try to improvise short licks and runs when repeating verses, and on the sambas and bossas the members of the ensemble go for straight ahead jazz improvisation. This keeps things interesting for the audience, which is vital if one wishes to perform regularly, and it also keeps it interesting for me. There is the added benefit that all of these musical activities contribute to making me a better musician, something I strive to do every day.
On Sunday I played in a concert that was billed as “Geert D’Hollander and Friends”. So I was one of Geert’s “friends” for the evening (and hopefully his friend for life), This was a classical concert, with Geert playing several solo works on the piano (Chopin, Brahms, Faure, and Scriabin) and me playing solo guitar pieces by Miguel Llobet, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Augustín Barrios, and me. The setting was a large living room at an historic mansion on the grounds of Bok Tower Gardens.
Which brings me to another subject: diversification of venue. What is a concert space? Easy! A concert space is any location in which you decide to give a concert. Sunday it was a mansion, Saturday a church. A couple of months ago I performed in what can best be described as a night club. Downtown Lakeland, FL is home to a venue called Preservation Hall, which is a restaurant/bar/performance space, etc. There have been rock bands there, burlesque, and now, classical guitar! And that concert was, indeed, traditional classical guitar. It was my release party for my new CD, “Lo Mestre, The Music of Miguel Llobet”. (Available for purchase below.)
Interestingly enough, I must have driven this point home to my son quite well. He exemplifies diverse artistic expressions as a way of both making a living and growing artistically (and he seems to be having fun, which is equally important). Classically trained on violin, guitar, and piano (and also trained on jazz saxophone) he produced my Llobet recording. But what really makes this surprising is that he makes a good portion of his livelihood playing lead guitar with a heavy metal band, plays slide guitar and mandolin with a bluegrass/country band, and owns a recording studio! Now that’s what I call mixing it up!