About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guitar recital at Ives Hill retirement community, Watertown NY

Today I played a one hour guitar recital/concert at the Ives Hill retirement community in Watertown, NY.  It was one of my best performances ever. Overall I was relaxed, confident, and expressive. On the couple of tunes where I got into minor trouble (that in which only I knew what was going on) it didn't rattle me. As my mind wandered here and there to either negative or positive thoughts which were not related to the music, I quickly brought myself back to the music.
Here are the pieces I played:
Romance, the first piece.
Next I played Chet Atkins arrangement of Mr. Bojangles.
Then I played Matteo Carcassi studies #3, 7, and 19 ( probably the best I've ever done on the 3 pieces in a row).
From there I played Fernando Sor studies #2,3,4, and 5 from Andres Segovia's compilation 20 Studies for guitar by Fernando Sor.
Then I played selections by Francisco Tarrega: Stuides #1 & 2 ( from Isaisa Savio's book Ten Studies for Guitar by Francisco Tarrega).
Then I playe FT's Lagrima followed by Estudio en forma de Minuetto.
Then I went out on a limb and played FT's Estudio Brillante. (I did a pretty darn good job on that considering the difficulty level of the piece. I played at a slower tempo  which helped a great deal).
 At that point I wasn't sure where to go.
So I decided to play Estudio Inconcluso by Augustine Barrios Mangore.  Because I decided that on a whim I took off prematurely and fumbled the first beat of the first measure. Laughed it off, restarted and did a fair job of it.
I think that after that I played an arrangement of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline (arranged by  )
I then finished with Mason Williams' Classical Gas.
All told I filled up a solid hour with commentary in between many of the selections.

For this event I used my Guild Mark V guitar with a piezo electric pick up plugged into a Fishman Solo Amp 220. It all sounded great (at least from my seat.) I recieved many compliments.

What is important to me is that I am getting a grip on the stage fright, the performance anxiety.
NY City guitarist Peter Fletcher at Onondag County Library, Syracuse, NY. He was tuning his guitar to C#minor to play Koyumbaba. iPhone 5 instagram photo by Gary Walts

I attribute that to a couple of things recently. One is the series of guitar  performance/workshops I have been giving at libraries in Jefferson County. The other event, that was a real eye opener for me was going to see NY City guitarist Peter Fletcher performing at the Onondaga County library in Syracuse. There were only about 15 people there, but he gave it his all. I learned a lot just by watching him. I was familiar with much of the music he played. I detected a couple of points where he had a menbtal lapse, like he forgot where he was, but his recovery was so quick, so smooth, it was impressive. But I am sure no one noticed, and if they did it did not matter. Not to him, not to the audience, not to me. Nobody cares. And one piece he played I thought was really off from beginning to end. He is such a fine musician and guitarist he must have known. However, he just rolled along with it and seemed to be caught up in the reverie of the piece from start to finish, as if all he were doing were intentional. Maybe it was. Either way, the man handled it brilliantly. Watching him boosted my confidence immensely.
Here are two other observations: I sat in the front row and while waiting for Fletcher to take the stage a man sitrting next to me asked if I had ever seen or heard of him before. "No.", I replied. "Well, you are going to be blown away." he said. Mingling with people after the show a woman came up to me and asked if I was a player. I said yes, but that I was mostly a dabbler. " I could tell," she said, "by watching you I just knew you were a player."  How is that? I wonder what I was giving away about myself as I watched Fletcher's excellent performance?
So, what I learned was to give your "All" to the music, no matter what size the the audience or where it is. And secondly that the audience is far from critical or judgemental. Relax and give your best.

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Please leav comments and suggestions about this blog and how I maght improve it. Thanks, Gary Walts