Back in the Saddle Again Follow Up

In my last post I mentioned playing for church services as a viable way to perform to an attentive audience, and more specifically mentioned that I had been engaged to perform on Sunday, July 14. So I thought it might be a good idea to follow up on this.  How did it go?  What was it like?  Is playing a church service as satisfying as giving a concert?

Well, for starters, it went very well.  I thought I was taking a bit of a risk programming the Barrios “Catredral” after only a month and a half of work, particularly  coming right after a week off from playing.  This was especially risky because I had decided to open with this piece – it served as prelude music to the service.  On the other hand, it was a great way to demonstrate to myself and my readers the real power of aim directed movement.  The pay off was pretty big.  Because the piece is new I still  play it with the joy of discovery that we all experience when playing new music, even if it is already familiar to us.  My playing was close to spot-on, with only a minor slipped note in the fast movement.  But more to the point, I felt that I was able to put my interpretation across very effectively.

The remainder of my program was much less risky.  For the “offering” I played “Recuerdos de la Alhambra”.  Sure we’ve all heard it a thousand times, but audiences still love to hear it, and it evokes a mood that worked well with the setting.  And finally, I rounded it out with three short pieces for the Eucharist portion of the service, my own composition, “Agenbyte of Inwit”, Jose Luis Merlin’s “Evocacion” and Leo Brouwer’s “Un Dia de Noviembre”.

What was it like?  It’s a bit like giving a concert, but you’re not the main attraction, God is.  It was not as satisfying as a concert, of course, because, let’s face it, I, like many other players, am an applause junkie, and in a church service the congregation always seems unsure as to how much applause is appropriate.  So there was some nice warm applause, but no shouts of “bravo!” or “encore!”  On the other hand, people were listening very attentively, and a good number made a point of visiting me afterward to voice their appreciation.

One nice bonus for me was that one of the community’s most influential arts patrons was in the congregation.  She and I had had an inadvertent falling out 3 years ago (long story, partly my fault and most certainly not hers) that I had not had any success repairing.  Well, I’m pleased to report that it is now repaired.  She came straight to me after the service and was glowing with enthusiasm for my performance and acted as if nothing had ever happened.

So, I had an opportunity to try out new material, a chance to perform in a meaningful setting, made some money, and mended some fences.  All in all a very successful day.  And most importantly, I had fun!


As I mentioned briefly in a previous post, I am learning some Brazilian choros with two other guitarists with the intent of performing them.  Each of us brings something completely different to the table, which is one of the things that I believe makes the project interesting.

Dave Miller was the one who first contacted me about this project.  Dave is a great all-around musician.  He plays guitar pretty well, keyboards, and is an excellent saxophonist and harmonica player.  Dave spent years as a  professional musician in Miami, where he played a great deal of Brazilian music, and is something of an expert in this area.  He has been introducing me to a whole new repertoire, and is at this point the driving force behind the project.

Dave Smith (yes, two guys named David) is an excellent jazz guitarist, and spent years in Nashville as a studio player.  He brings some great harmonic voicings, skillful improvising, and a great feel for filling in little counter melodies.

Finally I round out the team with a full bodied sound, a purity of technique, and musicianship based on my classical background.

Most of the repertoire is made up of straight ahead choros by composers such as Jacob do Bandolim, Pixinguinha, Ernesto Nazareth, Luiz Americano, and others.  But we have already begun to bring other influences into the mix – some Bossa Novas, Sambas, and even a few jazz tunes and classical pieces.

As soon as we have something on video I’ll make a point of posting it to my youtube channel, GuitarCentury.  In the meantime, stop by and see me play some of my favorite Spanish music, or watch my instructional videos and pick up a few tips.  Here is a link: