Mark your Calendars for a very special event in Soap Lake, Washington! On Saturday, May 20 at 4:00 pm, we will play a brand new work written for us by renowned composer Martin Kennedy. Co-commissioned with the Friends of the Lower Grand Coulee, this wonderful new piece evokes the magnificent landscape carved out by the Missoula Floods some 15,000 years ago.
It will be paired with the premiere of the last movement of Michael Young’s “Prelude Music” and our new favorite piece from the archives, an early nineteenth-century suite by Portuguese composer A. de Abreu.
The event will take place at the Lakeside Bistro, Soap Lake Natural Spa and Resort. The event is free to the public. Tickets may be reserved online at https://tinyurl.com/2p8ac2vs
In 2020, we were awarded a grant through the Friends of the Grand Coulee to engage composer Martin Kennedy to write a suite for two guitars. Neil and Tamara set out on their tandem bicycle along with Martin (also an avid cyclist) to experience the Grand Coulee area. Inspired by the magnificent terrain, Martin wrote Dry Falls a six movement suite that portrays the magnificence of the Lower Grand Coulee landscape.
Andy Kovach, President of Friends of the Lower Grand Coulee, said this event is exactly how we want to promote creativity and build connections in the small, rural communities of Soap Lake and the Lower Grand Coulee
Songs and Dances from the USSR Mikhail Gorbunov (ca. 1930)
Dr. Oleg Timofeyev is a master of the late nineteenth-century seven-string guitar for which a wealth of repertoire was composed during the height of the Russian empire – in the age of the Czars. A world-renowned expert on this instrument and its music, Oleg will be publishing his research through Duke University press in the near future.
Sunday, Feb. 26, at 2:00 in Gallery One: Guitar in the Gallery Presents! Oleg will play Music from the Age of Czars played on a late 19th century seven-string historic instrument. Admission by sugggested donation, $10.
While in Ellensburg, Dr. Timofeyev will also be presenting two additional events at Central Washington University:
1. Lecture/Recital: The Seven-String Guitar in the Russian Empire Mon. Feb. 27, CWU Recital Hall, 1:00pm
In this lecture-recital, Dr. Timofeyev traces the origins of the seven-string guitar to the milieu of Czech and Polish musicians who found themselves in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the 1790s. He then describes through music and slides the rich culture of the Russian Empire seen through images of the seven-string guitar literature, paintings, and memoirs. Finally, the 1917 Revolution brings the glory of the seven-string guitar to an end and ushers in a new approach to music.
In this new film, Romani (“Gypsy”) musicians take center stage as Dr. Timofeyev and his film crew document the importance of the Romani in Russian and Soviet culture. “The Gypsy Vengerka” (2022, 90 mins) will followed by a Q & A session with Dr. Timofeyev (and possibly members of the Romani via zoom).
Happy New Year! Join us on the following Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm.
We are excited to announce upcoming concerts at Gallery One in beautiful downtown Ellensburg, WA. Concerts take place in the acoustically-stunning Evelith Green gallery atrium on the third floor at Two O’Clock on Sunday afternoons. Concerts are by donation and open to the public. Thank you to our sponsors and audience donors for making this series possible.
Our April concert with Jessica Papkoff will be rescheduled to the 2023-2024 season at Gallery One. We look forward to sharing more great music with you in the Fall!
We are working on bringing more wonderful guitar music to the Kittitas Valley community and beyond! Over the pandemic, we have been rehearsing a lot of new music – both from early nineteenth century archives and music written by living composers especially for the Caulkins Guitar Duo.
Tentative dates for the Guitar in the Gallery series follow. Concerts will still take place on Sundays at 2:00 pm in the acoustically-resonant atrium upstairs at Gallery One, 408 N Pearl St. in Ellensburg, WA.
Mark your Calendars for 2022-23:
Sunday, Nov. 13: Caulkins Duo playing early Romantic music for their new CD. Music by Varlet, Courmont, Arbreu, and Würfel!
Sunday, Feb. 26: Oleg Timofeyev, Russian 7-string guitar with music from the Age of Czars
Sunday, April 2: Jessica Papkoff, Spanish classics
Sunday, April 30: Caulkins Duo – back with new music written especially for us – several premieres!
To celebrate our Wedding Anniversary, we will be playing music on our early 19th century guitars at the Conservatory in Volunteer Park, Seattle, a place that has been special to us over the years. The program will include the first performance in the U.S. of a Duo by W.W. Würfel and a wonderful “Caprice” by A.H. Varlet.
We can host an audience of twenty-three. If you would like to attend, please send a check for $20 or more (proceeds will be donated to the conservatory) to POB 1676, Ellensburg, WA 98926 and we will hold a spot for you!
Join us for a concert of classical and Peruvian guitar music with solo guitarist John Paul Shields in the acoustically fabulous third floor atrium at Gallery One, 409 N Pearl St., in Ellensburg, on Sunday, March 27 at 2:00 pm. Suggested donation $10.
John Paul has performed worldwide in a colorful array of settings, from public festivals in Peru to Seattle’s esteemed Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya, to live on radio and television. A graduate of the University of Washington in classical guitar, with a masters in guitar performance from the University of Idaho, J. P. has also studied in Peru, where he learned the rich intricacies of Andean folk guitar music. John Paul worked with several renowned musicians in Peru, including Frank Collazos, Luis Salazar Mejía and the legendary Ayacuchan guitarist Raúl García Zárate.
Contact concert organizers Neil or Tamara at CaulkinsGuitarDuo@gmail.com with questions. The space is accessible via elevator. Hope to see you there!
José María Gallardo finished his presentation on the second day with a discussion of the “Suite Compostelana” by Frederico Mompou (see 2:08:00) which was composed for the festival in 1962. Gallardo keeps a copy of the score signed in swirling script by Mompou himself at home but brought working copy to share on this video. Although he was already over time, Gallardo did want to say a few things about the Mompou: that one should listen for the church bells in the Preludio (1:50). All across medieval Europe, three times a day, when one heard the bells of the “angelus” ringing from cathedrals and churches, one stopped working to pause and pray.
One can also hear, amidst the minimalist repeated notes in the Preludio, the drizzle that is so characteristic of Compostela. Indeed, in the opening clip of the video, it is raining in the medieval courtyard of the festival site (0:41). The third movement of the Suite Compostelana is a lullaby: Cuna translates as cradle in Gallego – the native language spoken in this part of Spain. There’s a nice summary of the Suite’s six movements here. My favorite movement is the last one: the Muñeira, which is a dance performed to the Celtic bagpipes (called a Gaita). The characteristic hop of the muñeira gives it a distinctive lilt that is very charming! Spain is a mosaic of different cultures and this beautiful suite – inspired by Galicia, the northwest region of Spain – presents a different face of this marvelously diverse country.
Gallardo devoted this second day of Música en Compostela to instruction. He demonstrated several warm-up exercises, moving both right and left fingers across all six strings in a zigzag pattern. Gallardo starts high on the neck where the frets are closer together to ease into warming up the hands which makes a lot of sense.
He also discussed finding a good sound. He finds playing too close to the bridge to be too metallic, preferring to develop a good solid sound in the middle range between the bridge and neck which he then can vary according to the music. Gallardo gets a strong, clear tone using a “semi-apoyando” approach, hitting the string in the same place between flesh and nail regardless of whether one is playing rest or free strokes (demonstrated at 15:04). He advises cultivating a good base sound. It is more important, he added, to cultivate a penetrating sound that carries out to the furthest corner of one’s audience rather than simply aiming to be loud.
Gallardo also noted how much he learned from watching other students having their lessons with José Tomas many years ago. He observed that when he was a student himself at the Compostela festival, it was often easier to learn as an auditor without the pressure of performing. In his own practice now, he often records himself to step back a bit and hear his playing at a distance.
Gallardo offered a wealth of ideas on how to play De Falla’s “Hommage au Tombeau de Debussy” with a seriousness appropriate to a piece commemorating the death of a friend. For example, at 47:30, one must take care to follow the melodic line, maintaining a continuous sound with the fingers of the right hand even though the tune is played on different strings. Gallardo recommended listening to the orchestral version of the Hommage to get a sense of the variety of tone colors one should aim for when playing this haunting piece. Also, notice silences: for Debussy, the music could be found in “the silence between the notes.”
Much of the piece “Sevilla” by Albeniz sounds like a rowdy fiesta, with catchy dance rhythms, but Gallardo notes that parts of it should be played delicately. Impressionism – in music as well as in the visual art of Albeniz’ day – suggests rather than declares. However, Gallardo continued, even when playing with a languid rubato as might evoke the hazy colors of impressionism, “don’t lose the heartbeat” of the movement. In Albeniz’ “Granada,” for example, there is an underlying Flamenco rhythm that should carry through even while playing freely with the melody (which Gallardo sings at 1:28).
Parts of “Sevilla” break into a classic Spanish dance called the “Sevillanas.” Gallardo recalled Tomás once asking him to dance a section of the Sevillanas for a Japanese student who had not seen it before. Gallardo’s mother was a fine Flamenco dancer and even though Gallardo does not claim to be a dancer, he certainly has the dances of his native country in his bones!
Gallardo discussed the music of Joaquín Rodrigo at length. It is important, Gallardo cautioned, to remember that many of the legatos and fingerings in scores are added by editors later. So it is a good idea to find original scores to study the intent of the composer. Indeed, since Rodrigo was blind, every note and indication took a great deal of work to write down, thus Gallardo advised working through Rodrigo’s music with special attention to details.
Along the way, Gallardo presented a technique quite new to me: displacing a finger of the left hand with another finger, one can keep a note ringing while making a shift (see 48:01). I have not tried this in practice but would be interested in hearing if other players use this technique. Unlike a wind or bowed string instrument, each note on the guitar begins to decay as soon as it is plucked so it’s great to have another tool for extending the length of a note!
Our last post described the Música en Compostela International Spanish Music Festival. The guitar classes were offered online this year. This post describes the first of two classes which were live-streamed on December 17, 2020. Enjoy!
In José María Gallardo’s first class, he started with a performance of Spanish dances by the seventeenth-century composer, guitarist, theologian, poet and philosopher, Gaspar Sanz. Starting at 9:20, you can hear Gallardo’s interpretation of these dances – Españoleta, Gaillarda, Sarabanda, Passacailla, and Canarios – each evoking a different part of Spain, from the flamenco rhythms of the southern Spain in the Españoleta to the courtly Sarabanda (southern roots but typical of the high plains of Castile) to the lively Canarios. The Canarios hails from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa where Spanish ships bound for Latin America usually stopped to replenish supplies. The influence of popular songs from Latin America can be heard as the Canary Islands were a cultural meeting place between the continents.
Gallardo credits his first teacher, America Martinez, with his solid technique which proved a great foundation for his later studies with José Tomás. He felt fortunate that he never had to drastically change his technical approach to the guitar given his excellent early instruction. We had not heard of America Martinez before but apparently she was an admired maestra at the Conservatory of Sevilla. If you know more about her, please add this to the comments below!
In his discussion, Gallardo emphasized the importance of being a musician first and then a guitarist. A musician, he explained, needs to develop buen gusto (good taste). A musician should be interested in all aspects of culture in order to contextualize the music played: poetry, literature, visual arts, theater, dance, etc. The musical score, he explained, is not the music; it is the path to the tesoro (treasure) which is the performance of music.
When playing music by Santiago de Murcia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santiago_de_Murcia), Gallardo demonstrated different ways to add interest to a repeated section (33:45) for example, with a cross string trill rather than a single string ornament. One should play with the ornaments, he advised, demonstrating with a snap of the fingers at about 53:50. His masterful performance of a piece by Murcia can be found at 54:09.
When discussing the Capricho Árabe by Tarrega, Gallardo emphasized the underlying pulse of Arabic music (1:43). He pointed out that the guitar was the same instrument played by Flamenco and Classical guitarists in the late nineteenth century, when Torres was building his iconic instruments at the end of the nineteenth century. During this period, there was a much closer relationship between guitarists of these different traditions as they were playing the same instruments and shared a similar approach to the guitar.
Much of Gallardo’s discussion focused on finding ways to play Spanish music that brought out the folkloric underpinnings of music – music that would have been heard on the streets and in the bars. We found it interesting that in post-colonial Spain, it was the music of vanquished peoples that proved most characteristic of Spanish music. In 1492, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile were hardly paying attention to Columbus lost at sea. They were united in a campaign to expel Arabs and Jews from southern Spain. Gypsies too were oppressed under Spanish rule (there is a long and complicated history there), but in the nineteenth century, it was Gypsy music (Flamenco) with its Arabic and Jewish influences, that proved to be the most Spanish.
Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain is not only famous as the destination for a pilgrimage route from all corners of Europe, but is also the site of an international music festival dedicated to the study of Spanish music. We received scholarships to participate in this course many years ago where we first studied with José Luis Rodrigo-Bravo, a consumate musician and brilliant teacher.*
In lieu of the cancelled festival, José María Gallardo del Rey, the newly appointed guitar maestro at Música en Compostela, presented two days of lecture/demonstrations online last week. Gallardo is a dynamic teacher and performer as well as a wonderful interpretor of Spanish music. He hails from Andalucia, the heartland of Flamenco music and dance, and it is evident that Gallardo, who has played with Paco de Lucia, has a deep appreciation for musical folk roots – both of Spanish flamenco and Latin American popular music.
Gallardo’s course was conducted entirely in Spanish – one of Tamara’s students described his Spanish as a blur! – so we thought it might be helpful to share some of the highlights from his presentation. The class was recorded and you can find the videos for Dec. 17 here and Dec. 18 here: each day ran about two hours although on the second day, Gallardo went over about 20 minutes because he had to say something about Mompou’s Suite Compostelana, a suite written for the festival.
Each video starts with Gallardo offering an homage to Andres Segovia, who started the festival in 1958 along with diplomat José Miguel Ruiz Morales. The video begins with a stunning view of the enormous cathedral on the main town plaza. Legend has it that the body of James, the brother of Jesus, is interred in Compostela – hence the name: his body is literally “composting” there. Pilgrims who made it to Santiago were often in rather bad shape by the time they made it to this distant town, so they recovered in the castle-like hospital that is now a “Parador” (restored luxury hotel). Festival classes are held on the main floor. In this same room, we participated in the course many years ago.
In addition to the Spanish guitar repertoire, students from all over the world come to the festival to study Spanish music for piano, organ, voice, and strings, as well as musicology and composition. It is worth saying a bit about Spanish organ music as Spanish organs – and many organs in Latin America – include idiomatic reeds amongst the usual organ pipes which give Spanish organ music a particular (and wonderful!) quality as can be heard in this example.
* Many of José Luis Rodrigo’s former students – including Eulogio Albalat, Juan Carlos Lorenzo Vila, Angelito Agcaoili, Virginia Yep, the Caulkins Guitar Duo, and others (please let us know if you should be on this list!) – were planning a concert in memory of our beloved maestro José Luis, for August 12, 2020. This has been postponed due to the pandemic – stay tuned!
There’s nothing like a musical score left on the breakfast table the night before to make one’s day merry and bright! Neil has been reading through duets from the archives and this one might make the cut. It will be fun to read through it later today.