Audience Review: Jorge Caballero, Peru

jorgecaballero_sq_med_rgbJorge Caballero – January 28, 2017

When one is in the presence of greatness, one should be aware of it. I was certainly so on Saturday evening in the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring. From the moment Jorge Caballero sat down and composed himself to present an exquisite rendering of four pieces from the Iberia Suite by Albeniz, my understanding of the capacity of the acoustic guitar was forever altered. With an impassioned performance, Mr. Caballero perceptively communicated the poetic Evocation with its echoes of Spanish fandango and jota song forms. He moved with such ease into El Puerto, a fine Andalusian could have cantered in natural gait to its rhythms. And, El Albaicin and Malaga further bore us through the southern Spanish coast sharing its culture and images. Only absent was the fine wine and food to accompany these masterful pieces.

From J.S. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903, the take away impression was simply stunning, stunning, stunning. To reduce a score written for an instrument with two manuals and five octaves each and impose it onto an instrument with just six strings is nothing less than insane. What’s even more insane is that it actually works, at least in the hands of Mr. Caballero whose command of his instrument is, I’m sure, the envy of many a performer eking out a career in this demanding profession. The rapid fire execution of scales and counterpoint might cause any keyboardist to permanently close the lid on their instrument; but, to conquer its fugal fingering on six strings, well, the only comparison is that both the harpsichord and acoustic guitar are plucked.

Intermission gave listeners time to recover from part one of the program, but nothing could have prepared us for part two. As one of only two guitarists in the world to have mastered Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on six strings, Mr. Caballero made Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue sound like Lesson Book I instruction. All that can be said is the man has skills — many, many gifts and even more skills to back up his inborn, natural ability. I wasn’t expecting to attend a guitar concert and hear all virtuoso compositions originally composed for the keyboard. Guitarists are renowned for their ability to interpret music written for other instruments, but this program presented us with some of the most difficult keyboard music one could tackle and yet there we were transfixed by not only the tremendous aptitude of this performer but by the amazing sound and dynamic of his playing. You would be amazed too, if you were to plug into the Marlow Series. Its reputation attracts the best guitarists this temporal world offers.   What a gift to this community, unlike any other. And, Jorge Caballero confirmed for us Saturday just how fortunate we are to be on the receiving end of greatness.

Looking forward to hearing Antigoni Goni from Greece on February 25th at Westmoreland Congregational Church in Bethesda.

Deborah Drayer

Antigoni Goni, GREECE : February 25, 2017 8pm

AG_Med_SQ.jpgSince first winning competitions and public admiration in the 1990s with her colorful and virtuosic playing, Greek guitarist Antigoni Goni has gone on to an international career, performing throughout Europe, Russia, North and South America and Asia.

Antigoni’s Marlow debut coincides with the release of her beautiful new solo album, ‘Hymn to the Muse’, a recording of works inspired by Greece.

Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ
1 Westmoreland Circle,
Bethesda, MD 20816

Season Tickets available now:
Music Clip:
Individual Tickets will go on sale Thursday, September 15, 2016.

— We can’t wait. Hope to see you there. —
photo by Simone Scozzari

[Guest Review] Classical Guitarist, XueFei Yang, China – February 20, 2016

XueFei Yang graced us with her refined sense of style and technique last night for a third performance on the Marlow Series in just five short years. It’s not often we’re visited with such frequency by one performer, but a couple come to mind: Pepe Romero and David Russell, so she’s in excellent, established company on the one to ten scale – and, there’s good reason for it.

XFY_medSQSpain, China, France and more…

XueFei Yang graced us with her refined sense of style and technique last night for a third performance on the Marlow Series in just five short years. It’s not often we’re visited with such frequency by one performer, but a couple come to mind: Pepe Romero and David Russell, so she’s in excellent, established company on the one to ten scale – and, there’s good reason for it.

I have said before, I will do so again, the international flavor the Marlow series offers provides a steady glimpse into the culture and history of our interconnected world with artists who share their treasures and introduce us to the infinite range of human expression. When Ms. Yang altered the order of her program to ensure her native Chinese heritage did not stand on its own after intermission, it was an illuminating call. There’s clearly a lot more that shines on the classical guitar than the usual mix of Spanish and Latin American composers – like the Welsh composer, yes, I said Welsh, Stephen Goss’ carefully crafted interpretations of the Book of Songs based on ancient Chinese poetry (a tall task for a non-native). Of the six Songs composed out of a universe of 305 poems, the sweetest was Ms. Yang’s admitted favorite, “Pastoral”, with its “wind blowing in the long grass and trees.” There’s something perfect about the pentatonic influence with which Chinese traditional music is infused. Renaissance composers loved the perfection of the perfect fifth and treated it with great reverence, but its influence came from the Far East. You can’t write traditional Chinese music without the pentatonic scale and this Welshman employed it admirably throughout these lovely pieces. This music is well suited for the guitar which sounds more like an Asian instrument then a western one when plucked as sensitively as rendered by Ms. Yang.

Debussy’s La Fille aux Cheveaux de Lin arranged by Julian Bream appropriately followed the Book of Songs hinting at the chinoiserie of Claude’s evolving psyche and by the time de Falla’s Homenaje, pour le tombeau de Debussy brought the first half of the program to a close, Ms. Yang had once again demonstrated how remarkably her delicate digits slide over the frets from one culture to another without a fumble. Both composers would have been impressed.

Granados opened the second half of the concert with Valses Poeticos arranged by Ms. Yang. Granados was not a composer of music for the guitar so if you want to know what this opus should sound like, you might be interested in listening to a recording by Alicia de Larrocha whose passionate playing defines this delightful and alternatingly sentimental work with the fullness it demands. Listen to Alicia and you’ll wonder how anyone else could manage it so well. It’s a difficult one to translate but it was done so with great accomplishment and nerve by Ms. Yang.

The Chinese traditional music was my personal fav on last night’s program. There’s nothing quite as tranquil as listening to the cascading chords of a waterfall in an enchanting garden. This is what it felt like listening to this fluid work as quick and complex as they get but done with the ease of a true professional — so effortless, yet so difficult and astutely realized. Ms. Yang is truly a cut above and the season’s not even over yet!

David Russell on March 12 needs no introduction, so purchase your tickets now, they won’t last long and join us for another remarkable evening unlike any other around this town.

Deborah Drayer

Photos: XueFei Yang, China – February 20, 2016

Sound check!


Pre-Concert Lecture with Professor Larry Snitzler

Intermission: Door Prize Give-Away and Guitar Raffle

Meet-The-Artist wine and cheese Reception


A great Saturday night!

Roland Dyens, October 13, 2012

Roland Dyens is an original among musician-composers.  Few would dare to open a program with an improvisation never before heard by an audience much less the performer himself.  But, in the world of guitar playing, one dares to be different.  This is how the opening concert of The John E. Marlow Guitar Series on October 20 got off to its 2012-2103 season start.  On a wing and a secular prayer, Mr. Dyens amused Marlow listeners with his charm and, sometimes, witty playing.

Programs are generally the norm for performers, but Roland prefers spontaneity to formal program structure.  Every piece, then, was a surprise and over half the repertoire was pulled directly from the performer’s own arsenal of uniquely original compositions and arrangements.  We strolled with him through his musical wanderings from the opening improvisation, original works and adaptations, which included a sensitive rendering of that “more French than Polish” master Frederic Chopin’s Waltz no. 2, Op. 69, through Fernando Sor’s, Le Calme, to, again, his own piece aptly entitled The Delights of Jetlag, and ending on an encore, yet again his own, Comme Le Jour which touched the assembled souls and brought the house to its feet.

Mr. Dyens is a guitar’s musician too.  He explores his instrument with casual familiarity, sometimes moving it gently to extend the after tones of pieces which allows final notes and chords to hum themselves under a sort of extended fermata-esque end.  We thoroughly enjoyed having Roland back for a visit this year, and, with a nearly sold out attendance, he got our season series off to an exciting start.

Please join us again, on November 10, when Marco Socias of Spain promises to demonstrate just how indispensable this series has become to our area’s guitar devotees.  Look forward to seeing you there.

-Deborah Drayer
Silver Spring, MD

And Season 19 begins

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the beginning of 2012-2013 John E. Marlow Guitar Season (Season 19)!

We begin this evening with a performance by Roland Dyens. Please see our website:, for more information and tickets (if you don’t have them yet).

Here is a sneak peek of our concert program – by clicking on the image, you can view the entire physical music program.

Preparing the Season

As seen in Bethesda Magazine September-October issue

This morning, we were re-listening to the music clips of Carlos Barbosa-Lima and Byron Yasui.  Carlos Barbosa-Lima’s Clip and Byron Yasui’s Clip  These clips are from songs that they’ve played separately.  What will it sound like to hear them together?

We’ll be presenting them October 22nd, Saturday, 8pm.  Tickets available here!