Notedclassical guitarist to play Friday

Published on Thu, Sep 20, 2007 by ack Kintner

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Noted classical guitarist to play Friday

By Jack Kintner

Jason Vieaux, head of the Cleveland Institute of Music’s guitar department, will be presenting a program of classical guitar music as a part of Blaine’s Pacific Arts Association concert season at 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 21, at the Blaine Schools’ Performing Arts Center, 945 H street.

Vieaux (pronounced “Vee-heur”), is well-known among local classical guitar builders, players and teachers, having played in Bellingham about ten years ago as a guest of Fairhaven guitar builder Dake Traphagen.

Bellingham classical guitarist Ron Rondello, owner of Harris Avenue Music, said “He’s one of the better players around, and it will be great to be able to hear him again.”

Vieaux, who plays a Gernot Wagner guitar made in Frankfurt, Germany, will open with Fernando Sor’s Variations on a Theme of Mozart, in this case a theme taken from Mozart’s last opera, The Magic Flute. Sor was born in Spain in 1778, 13 years before Mozart’s death in Salzburg, and is sometimes called the Beethoven of the guitar, his primary instrument.

In this case the piece will show off the guitar’s ability to fill the Performing Arts Center from the first, full-bodied chord.

Next Vieaux will play Bach’s well-known Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, one of several pieces Bach composed for the flute. It begins typically for Bach at a somewhat even, almost mechanical pace in which Vieaux’s fingers will nonetheless never stop moving and exploring as Bach’s genius at invention cascades up and down the scale.

He shifts gears to finish the first half of the concert, showing the guitar’s Latin roots with two pieces by the Eighteenth century pianist and child prodigy Isaac Albeniz. Cuba is part of his Suite Espanola. He wrote the piece in 1886 before visiting his father, a customs officer in Havana, the following year on a concert tour.

Torre Bermeja, or the Vemillion Towers, refers to a medieval fortification built by the Moors in Spain. Essentially an elaborate prison, they are the source of a good deal of Spanish folklore.

After the intermission Vieaux continues with the Mexican composer Manuel Ponce’s 1930 composition for his close friend Andres Segovia, Sonatina Meridional. Segovia asked him for a piece that was, according to Richard Long, “purely Spanish in character,” and this fills the bill.

Finally, Vieaux closes his program with Argentinian guitarist and composer Jose Luis Merlin’s Suite del Recuerdo, something Merlin calls an homage to his native land. Following a tuneful and melodic opening, or evocacion, Merlin presents dance themes from various parts of the Argentinian and Andean landscape, finishing with a surprisingly mournful joropo that suddenly breaks into an exuberant final dance.

Jason Vieaux began guitar studies at age eight with Jeremy Sparks in Buffalo, New York, and continued study at The Cleveland Institute of Music with John Holmquist. He is the youngest first prize winner in the history of the prestigious Guitar Foundation of America International Competition, a Naumburg International Guitar Competition prizewinner, and a recipient of The Cleveland Institute of Music’s Alumni Achievement Award. In 1995, Vieaux was honored as an Artistic Ambassador of the United States to Southeast Asia, concertizing in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar (Burma). He has also toured Europe, Mexico, Canada, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.

Mr. Vieaux is a regularly featured guest with orchestras across the United States. He has performed as concerto soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Pops, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Auckland Philharmonia, Santa Fe Symphony and San Diego Symphony.

In addition to performing, Mr. Vieaux is highly dedicated to the art of teaching. He currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio, where he is the youngest department head to serve.