Sunday, 25 October 2015

Classical Guitar in Goa

-Brian Mendonça

It is surprising for a state so much into music, there is only a passable awareness of classical guitar. Someone I spoke to this morning had no clue what a classical guitar sounded like.

Looking back I see my affair with classical guitar began with the classes I used to go for at the Delhi School of Music, New Delhi in 2004-5. It has not evolved appreciably since then, but the love for the instrument has remained.

Ever since I picked up my own Yamaha C40 classical guitar from Pune, I’ve been trying to work on my technique. At best I play, I have realized, for my own satisfaction, not for others.

Weaned on the Spanish traditional ‘Malagueña,’ (arranged by Charles Ramirez); John Nash’s ‘Clouds’ and Mauro Giuliani’s ‘Allegro’ – all examination pieces from the Trinity College, London – I progressed to the English ‘Greensleeves,’ the Mexican traditional ‘Las Mañanitas’ and the Czechoslovakian, Antonin Dvorák’s ‘Largo’ from his New World symphony.

What thrills me while playing, besides the sweet sound of the nylon strings, is the cerebral quality of the music, and the possibility of being transported to the time and place from where the music emerged. It is the nearest one can come to actually being there.

Australian Rupert Boyd’s classical guitar performance at the Menezes Braganza Hall, Panjim recently at 7 p.m. was worth travelling from Vasco after work to listen to.* I felt inspired and elevated -- enough to dismiss my son’s hopeful plea after the second piece, ‘Will they serve samosas after this?’

Just two-and-a-half weeks after getting married, Boyd buoyed the audience on an autumn evening by introducing his pieces with lively nuggets of music history. For the first time I heard ‘Neil Gow’s Lament’ a Celtic song by Neil Gow at the passing away of his second wife. ‘One of my favourite places in the US is Hawaii,’ said Boyd, and launched into ‘Fantasy on a Hawaiian Lullaby’ by Byron Yasui  (b. 1940). An unheard fragment, ‘Prelude Opus 13’ by Swiss composer A. Fornerod (1890-1965) was graciously played by Boyd bolstering it up with Etude No. 9 Tres Peu Anime by the Brazillian H. Villa-Lobos (1887-1959).

We missed the ‘Fantasie’ by John Dowland (1563-1626) while we were nipping down the corner during the intermission for the elusive samosa. The Cuban Leo Brower (b.1939) was featured with ‘Tres Apuntes’ after the intermission, followed by the incomparable Spaniards, Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) and Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909). The sprightly ‘Miller’s Dance’ by Falla has the universal theme of the Mayor’s pursuit of the miller’s young wife. The Bulgarian folk song by Brower made us feel as if we were in a street cafe in Bulgaria.

Musicians and composers have no nationality. They belong to all people for all time. Boyd travels the world playing classical guitar and holding audiences spellbound. To be able to play classical guitar is to be able to key into a time and a culture and re-imagine it magically, poetically. Andrès Segovia would agree.
*; Published in the weekly feature 'On my mind' in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 25 October 2015; Pix of Andres Segovia from Youtube.

1 comment:

Augustine Mendonca said...

Dear Brian,

As always...your choice of words and phrases transports the reader into rich and cultural realms of literally delight. May your creative thoughts flow unhindered.....for the benefit of the masses.

Gus Mendonca