Review, Washington Post: Jason Vieaux

This is a great review in the Washington Post of Jason Vieaux’s concert Saturday night for The John E. Marlow Guitar Series.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/classical-guitar-programs-are-usually-much-of-the-same-but-jason-vieaux-has-something-fresh/2016/10/23/8167e79c-992a-11e6-b552-b1f85e484086_story.html

[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

Review: Classical Guitarist Chia-Wei Lin, Taiwan

 

Guitar

Review of the Chia-Wei Lin Classical Guitar performance, World Journal.
(See World Journal here)

English Translation:

“To me, playing the guitar is a way to help people realize the meaning of life…” said the young guitarist, Chia-Wei Lin, from Taiwan following his recital on Nov. 24, 2015. He was invited by the “John E. Marlow Guitar Series” (a program of the International Conservatory of Music), to perform at the acoustically excellent Westmoreland Congregational Church, in Bethesda, Maryland, before a large and appreciative audience, gathered to enjoy Lin’s brilliant performance. He received two standing ovations and played an encore of Brazilian music, amidst phrases from the audience like “…amazing,” and “…remarkable.”

Lin, 27, was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and began his study of the guitar with his father when he was 4. He won 1st prize at the national children group’s classical guitar competition in Taiwan when he was 10. He then won his first, 1st place guitar competition on the international stage in Singapore when he was 16. Lin has participated in German’s huge international guitar competition three times, won the second place twice, and finally won the first place last year out of 138 participants.

After graduated from Fong-Shen High School, Lin Chia-Wei received a sponsorship from Mr. Liao Lu-Li, the CEO of Taiwan Radio and Mei-Jing Industrial Corp, which has allowed him to go abroad to study guitar in Germany for his fifth year abroad. Although Lin has been playing guitar for so many years, he is still faithfully practicing guitar for more than six hours every day. His first guitar CD is near completion, and will be for sale soon in Europe, the United States and beyond. Further, Lin will participate in the world’s highest level competition “The International Classical Guitar Competition” in the near future.

The Washington DC performance is Lin’s third one in the United States, following his performance at NYC’s Carnegie Hall (Weill theater) sponsored by the D’Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts.

After the Marlow series performance, many of the audience stayed for Lin’s autograph on their programs and posed for pictures with him. Many were amazed by Lin’s guitar skills especially at such a young age. Lin was extremely pleased and touched by the overwhelming praises, and very movingly noted, “It is a great honor to be invited to perform here” he said afterwards.

The minister from the Republic of China’s embassy, K. C. Lee, was there to show support for Lin’s performance. As a special guest for the evening, Mr. Lee was asked to help in the presentation of his donated prizes for the audience including the phenomenal calendars from the Palace Museum in Taipei for the coming year. Minister Lee stated, “… tonight we feel and see a bright light for Taiwan in Lin’s extraordinary performance”.

Lin Chia-Wei humbly mentioned that “Guitar is the dominant thing in my life, and I am fortunate to have started this career path at a very young age.”

Lin admitted that classical guitar is not very well known in Asia or the world, though it is highly regarded in Taiwan. To him, learning the classical guitar not only can introduce the instrument to many others, but also can showcase the exquisite oriental music on the international stage. That was the reason for his choice of “Tango Tomorrow” and “I Am My Lover’s”, two classical works written recently by the famous violinist and composer, Dr. Chien-Tai Chen, who lives in the DC metro area. Lin expressed his desire to let more people understand Taiwan through this and other music for the guitar.

-Danny Hsueh and Tim Healy

Original:

林家瑋 用吉他奏出人生路
記者羅曉媛/華盛頓報導
December 2, 2015, 6:05 am 299 次

「吉他於我的意義,不如說是我藉由吉他讓更多人找到生命的意義」。來自台灣的青年吉他演奏家林家瑋,日前應美國吉他協會「John E. Marlow Guitar Series」邀請,在馬里蘭州貝薩斯達(Bethesda)的「Westmoreland Congregational」大教堂演奏。逾千名聽眾為他精湛的琴聲陶醉,自發起立鼓掌之餘,還頻頻驚嘆「Amazing」。

27歲的林家瑋出生台灣高雄,受父親影響,四歲開始跟父親學吉他,10歲拿下全國古典吉他大賽兒童組冠軍,16歲在新加坡拿到第一個國際大賽冠軍,曾三度闖入德國伊瑟隆恩國際吉他大賽,繼前兩次亞軍之後,去年打敗138位世界好手奪冠。

此次來大華府地區表演,是林家瑋第三次來美公開演奏。表演結束後,熱情的聽眾紛紛拉著他合影、簽名,並盛讚他小小年紀就有如此技藝。成功演出也令林家瑋既感激又興奮,他說:「第一次獲得這樣熱烈掌聲,能受邀來表演十分高興」。

中華民國駐美代表處副代表李光章當晚到場支持,並擔任抽獎嘉賓,為幸運聽眾送上具台灣特色的猴年年曆。他表示,今夜是兩個「台灣之光」,除了「台灣之光」林家瑋帶來精采演奏,他藉此機會向聽眾展現台灣另一種美麗。

林家瑋謙稱「吉他是生命中的唯一,沒有吉他,不知道自己還能做什麼」。他感嘆自己很幸運,因為很早就決定走這條路。談及吉他,他眼中總是光芒四溢。「與其說吉他對我的意義,不如說是希望藉由吉他讓別人尋找到生命的意義」。

不過林家瑋坦言,古典吉他不管是在亞洲還是在其他音樂圈,都算比較邊緣的樂器。而他學吉他,一方面是讓更多人認識到古典吉他,另一方面也希望把「東方人的音樂展現在國際舞台上,表演給外國人聽」。這也是為何他在當晚曾演奏「Tango Tomorrow」、「I am My Lover’s」,均出自華府著名小提琴家、作曲家陳建台之手。林家瑋表示,希望能用音樂,讓更多人認識台灣。

林家瑋自鳳新高中音樂班畢業後,獲台灣電聲界龍頭、美律實業董事長廖祿立個人贊助,全額資助到德國繼續學習吉他,目前已是第五年。儘管與吉他「打交道」多年,他至今仍是雷打不動每日練琴超過六小時,目前已有第一張專輯在製作,屆時將率先登陸歐洲市場。近期他還將角逐全世界最高水準的「國際古典吉他大賽」。

《《 回上一頁閱讀前文……此次來大華府地區表演,是林家瑋第三次來美公開演奏。表演結束後,熱情的聽眾紛紛拉著他合影、簽名,並盛讚他小小年紀就有如此技藝。成功演出也令林家瑋既感激又興奮,他說:「第一次獲得這樣熱烈掌聲,能受邀來表演十分高興」。

中華民國駐美代表處副代表李光章當晚到場支持,並擔任抽獎嘉賓,為幸運聽眾送上具台灣特色的猴年年曆。他表示,今夜是兩個「台灣之光」,除了「台灣之光」林家瑋帶來精采演奏,他藉此機會向聽眾展現台灣另一種美麗。

林家瑋謙稱「吉他是生命中的唯一,沒有吉他,不知道自己還能做什麼」。他感嘆自己很幸運,因為很早就決定走這條路。談及吉他,他眼中總是光芒四溢。「與其說吉他對我的意義,不如說是希望藉由吉他讓別人尋找到生命的意義」。

不過林家瑋坦言,古典吉他不管是在亞洲還是在其他音樂圈,都算比較邊緣的樂器。而他學吉他,一方面是讓更多人認識到古典吉他,另一方面也希望把「東方人的音樂展現在國際舞台上,表演給外國人聽」。這也是為何他在當晚曾演奏「Tango Tomorrow」、「I am My Lover’s」,均出自華府著名小提琴家、作曲家陳建台之手。林家瑋表示,希望能用音樂,讓更多人認識台灣。

林家瑋自鳳新高中音樂班畢業後,獲台灣電聲界龍頭、美律實業董事長廖祿立個人贊助,全額資助到德國繼續學習吉他,目前已是第五年。儘管與吉他「打交道」多年,他至今仍是雷打不動每日練琴超過六小時,目前已有第一張專輯在製作,屆時將率先登陸歐洲市場。近期他還將角逐全世界最高水準的「國際古典吉他大賽」。

Audience Review: Berta Rojas, Classical Guitarist from Paraguay

Tim Healy suggested I “review” Berta Rojas’s concert last Saturday night, March 21st, at the Westmoreland Congressional Church of Christ. Following in the footsteps of such august critics as Olin Downs and Bosley Crowther of the New York Times and Virgil Thomson of the Herald-Tribune, I naturally approached this assignment with trepidation. But what was almost my real undoing was following in the footsteps of my 11-year-old grandson, Brendan, who wrote a very favorable review of the concert himself earlier this week!

Berta’s recital was a potpourri of Hispanic composers spanning two continents and two centuries. The two Manuels, Ponce and de Falla were both born in the late 19th Century, within a few years of each other and died within a few years of each other in the mid-20th Century.

Her program opened with the ‘Suite in A Minor’ by Ponce, which mirrored the format of J. S. Bach’s French and English Suites, originally written for harpsichord but played on the piano today. Just like Bach, Ponce began his suite with a ‘Preludio’, followed by an ‘Allemande’, ‘Sarabande’, ‘Gavotte’, and ‘Gigue’. Bach himself used these forms, as did his contemporary, French composer François Couperin. But similarities ended there. Ponce’s ‘Suite’ was thoroughly modern with a dash of Mexican flavor, but few trills and no mordents. Berta, however, performed them with the crisp, strict beat demanded of this 18th Century style, allowing for little rubato.

The featured piece before intermission was ‘Fiesta Americana’ by American composer Vincent Lindsey Clark, dedicated to and admirably played by Ms. Rojas. It was an interesting piece in a contemporary vein, exploring various guitar techniques. Included in the suite was ‘Flight of the Butterfly’, Clark’s answer to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble-Bee! Hopefully this will also have a butterfly effect on Clark’s music!

Manuel de Falla’s music is mainly known by such orchestral compositions from his ballets, ‘El Amor Brujo’ (roughly translated ‘The Love of the Magician’) and ‘El Sombrero de Tres Picos’ (‘The Tree-Cornered Hat’). His famous ‘Ritual Fire Dance’ was made even more famous by his piano arrangement dedicated to and performed by Artur Rubinstein, who seldom left the stage without playing it as an encore. ¡In fact, Rubinstein wasn’t allowed to leave the stage once in Madrid, until he played it as an encore six, yes, six times!

Here, Falla was represented in ‘Seven Popular Spanish Songs’ performed by Rebecca Lister and accompanied by Berta. I was impressed not only by Rebecca’s singing ability but also her impeccable diction—in song and speech. Berta’s accompaniment was just that—accompaniment. She played with warmth in the shadows while the spotlight was on Rebecca.

Berta closed her printed program with ‘Danza Paraguaya’, one of whose themes danced through my head for days! This was where sensitivity transcended technique. Having been brought up on this music, it’s obviously in her blood.

– Bob Scharf

Youth Audience Review: Berta Rojas, Classical Guitarist, Paraguay

I went with my grandfather, Bob Scharf, to see Berta Rojas play guitar.

It was very fascinating to see someone that good because I am a guitar player myself. It was a fabulous performance! I liked hearing it because it had a unique sound that I am not used to hearing.

I hope that if I keep practicing, I will become as good as Berta Rojas one day. I hope that she comes back again sometime soon!

Brendan Scharf (11yrs)