The Guitar in DC – Sophocles Papas

According to George Mason University Libraries, “Sophocles Papas was an internationally known teacher of classical guitar. A Fairfax County resident later in his life, Papas taught the classical guitar in Washington, D.C. for nearly sixty years.”

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Historical note – Classical Guitar in DC:  According to Tim Healy, one cannot speak of the history of the guitar in the Washington, DC area without mentioning Sophocles Papas.

According to George Mason University Libraries, “Sophocles Papas was an internationally known teacher of classical guitar. A Fairfax County resident later in his life, Papas taught the classical guitar in Washington, D.C. for nearly sixty years. He also taught at American University in Washington, D.C. Among his former students who have risen to fame are Charlie Byrd and Carlos Barbosa-Lima.

Papas was a prominent figure in the Washington music scene for much of his life. He performed live on radio regularly on WCAP and was a close friend to music legends, Andres Segovia and Carlos Montoya. Papas organized and conducted Washington’s first guitar/mandolin/banjo orchestra, and founded the Washington Guitar Society. A prolific writer and publisher, Papas produced articles for scholarly music journals; wrote a column for the music magazine Crescendo; and founded Columbia Music Company, a publisher of sheet music and instructional methods for the guitar. Most notable among his publications is Method for the Classic Guitar. In 1998 Columbia Music Company also published a biography of Papas, Sophocles Papas: the Guitar, His Life, written by his daughter, Elisabeth Papas Smith.”

George Mason University Libraries has a collection of his papers and musical works, which you can find here. (http://sca.gmu.edu/finding_aids/papas.html)

We invite our readers to post any stories or recollections of Sophocles Papas here or on our Facebook page.  Share the memories!

William Kanengiser – February 27th, 2010

William Kanengiser, one of the founding members of the L.A. Guitar Quartet, gave a recital for the first half and then was the soloist for a new concerto composed by Shingo Fujii for Guitar and Guitar Ensemble.  Advanced players from the Peabody Conservatory made up the ensemble with Julian Grey conducting.

Rupert Boyd – January 30th, 2010

Ponce and Granados, and Albeniz…these are not names that are evocative of a snow day in Washington DC.   Yet, we had all of these last night when Rupert Boyd came to play.  It was clear from the first pieces, new compositions from Australia by the composer Philip Houghton, that we were in for a treat.  These pieces with the curious titles were delightful and rich in colors and expression…More Phillip Houghton, please!

Pressing on, the Folias Variations of Manuel Ponce highlighted both the profound depth of the great Mexican composer and and the amazing virtuosity of Rupert Boyd.  I was asked at intermission if these works were difficult to play.  What a question!  “Not unless you really want to play them well, with no mistakes and with a great deal of musicality, tone, expressiveness and grace,” I replied.  I probably need to learn how to just say, “Those were extremely difficult and he played them very, very well.”

So, we find ourselves with Rupert playing an impressive program and charming the socks off the audience…(not really their socks, that’s just an expression).  By the time he got to the Valses Poeticos by Enrique Granados, the die was cast.   The audience was hooked on his great warmth and charm, technique and gentle musicality.   The standing ovation and bravos filled the hall, making the harsh realities of the snow and ice forgotten, just for the moment.

See the WASHINGTON POST review on Rupert Boyd’s concert.

Carlos Perez – November 14th, 2009

When we looked at the program proposal from Carlos Perez, we realized he was playing music by composers we knew but music we didn’t know.  Take Carulli for instance.  In my experience, the music of Carulli is very transparent…there’s just no place to hide and very classically organized.   It takes so much talent and musical heart to play that music well, and that is just what Carlos did.  He made it sound interesting enough to hear and then to want to take the time to learn to play.   He proceeded to play the challenging music of the Argentine virtuoso, Julio Sagreras, and included a largely unknown piece by one of the series’ favorite composers, Agustin Barrios.

We are so lucky to have been able to host Carlos and to see what he can do with a wooden box and six strings.  What a miracle!

As you know, I am inclined to this music so it’s not surprising I enjoy it.  Won’t you please note your comments below and let’s begin a dialogue online that will enrich us all, as we share our thoughts and impressions of the music we are so lucky to hear played live in concert.

Tim

Pepe Romero – October 24th, 2009

From a presenter’s viewpoint, having a sold out performance is a sweet event, particularly when the hall is a good sized one with a large balcony for overflow audience.   In this particular event, we were thrilled to have our great friend and virtuoso, Pepe Romero, come once again to play for our friends, both old and new.  Getting to hear Pepe in person is a rare treat, as he plays great music meant to be savored and re-visited in our memories in days to come.  Take the Capricho Arabe, as an example.  When Pepe plays that piece, the music and his playing have a way of stripping away time and space, and for a few moments, we are lost in the world of southern Spain, among the Arabs and the oriental souks in the lands that held the Arabs, Jews and Christians in relative peace for over 800 years.  And the Recuerdos de la Alhambra…another evocative piece that seems to lift us from our daily lives and transport us to such distant climes and times…all rather breathtaking but we’re back in time for the reception afterwards and a moment to speak with the pilot of our world travel himself and get his autograph on one of his cds.  We are embarking on a new system of reviews here…won’t you include your thoughts and feelings, please?