Classical Views: 'Tangoes & Dances'
The guitar is an instrument that has been around since the 13th century, although, at that time it had a few less strings and it was much smaller in size and shape.
During the Renaissance, it was used by the troubadours to serenade their loved ones and it has remained a part of musical culture ever since. The electric guitar was invented in 1931 and with it came the inclusion of the guitar into rock bands and other performing ensembles. Today, we almost can't imagine music without some form of guitar in it.
Most people have played a guitar at some point in their lives, even if it was only to strum the basic chords G, C and D. I started at that level when I was young, and eventually was able to finger-pick a few melodies like the "Blackbird" song by the Beatles and a few classical pieces that I can no longer remember the titles of. I enjoyed it. The guitar had a beautiful sound and I loved being able to play chords as well as single-line melodies.
In experimenting with my guitar, I quickly discovered that the tone was quite different depending on how you plucked the string, what part of the fingertip you used and where you placed your fingers on the string in relationship to the bridge and the fingerboard. By adjusting these things, one could get infinite colors of sound out of the instrument. I was fascinated by the different tones and timbres.
A professional classical guitarist spends hours practicing to master the palate of musical sounds that the guitar can produce. It can be an incredible and awe-inspiring experience to hear a master guitarist play. These types of guitarists are my heroes.
We will feature one of the best, the winner of our National Schadt String Competition, at the next concerts of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, "Tangoes & Dances," 8 p.m. March 14 and 3 p.m. March 15, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.
Classical and flamenco guitarist, Silviu Ciulei, began his musical studies at the age of six and by age 13, he had won his first performance prize and he has been winning prizes ever since. In addition to winning first prize in the ASO's 2014 Schadt Competition, Silviu has won first prizes in the National Music Olympics, and was the first-prize winner and gold medalist three times consecutively in the George Georgescu International Music Competition.
Silviu also won first prize at the Indiana International Guitar Competition, the East Carolina University Guitar Festival and Competition, the Columbus Guitar Symposium and the Appalachian Guitar Festival. In other words, this is a guitarist of world- class quality who you really need to come and hear play.
Ciulei will be featured with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra performing the Guitar Concerto In A by Mauro Giuliani (1781 -1829), leading guitar virtuoso and composer of the early 19th century. Ludwig van Beethoven, after hearing Giuliani play, is said to have remarked that the instrument was "a miniature orchestra in itself."
The March 14 and 15 concerts don't stop there. We also have another special guest, composer and pianist Miguel del Aguila. The two-time Grammy nominated American composer has a distinctive colorful and rhythmical musical style.
Aguila's compositions include more than 100 works that been performed by more than 60 orchestras, and hundreds of first-rate ensembles and soloists.
We are excited that he will be joining the Allentown Symphony Orchestra as a guest piano soloist for his exciting piece "Conga," written in 1994. Imaging a long line of people dancing the Conga at a "fiery" pace. You will want to be up on your feet and dancing before the piece is finished.
Speaking of dancing, the concerts feature two superb tango dancers, Meredith Klein and Andres Amarilla, from the Philadelphia Argentine Tango School. They will be dancing to "Mumuki" by Astor Piazzolla, and "Tango En Skai" by Dyens.
After the March 14 concert, the dancers will host a "Milonga" social event in the Rodale Community Room where you can learn to dance the Tango. It is free to anyone who attends the concert, but reservations are required: 610-432-6715.
So you can see, this is not your standard type of classical orchestra concert. We will showcase a flamenco-classical guitarist, a composer and piano soloist, two tango dancers and an eclectic program of rhythmic, toe-tapping pieces that will make you want to dance, which you can do after the March 14 concert.
"Tangos & Dances" is an exciting concert of colorful music, superb performers, and features the versatility of our very own orchestra, the Allentown Symphony Orchestra.
Diane Wittry is Music Director-Conductor of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director (USA), International Cultural Exchange Program for Classical Musicians, Sarajevo Philharmonic, Bosnia; and author, "Beyond the Baton" and "Baton Basics" (both, Oxford University Press).
Concert tickets: Miller Symphony Hall Box Office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715