Monday, November 7, 2011

Classical Guitarist Peter Fletcher—Coming Soon to a Library Near You!

I just returned home from a wonderful free concert at my local public library, of all places, offered by classical guitarist Peter Fletcher. I first learned of the concert a month ago when I saw a sign posted in the library foyer and decided I definitely wanted to go, but I also looked him up on the Internet. I was surprised that he was not a local musician, as I had first supposed. From his website:

PETER FLETCHER began guitar study at the age of seven under classical guitar instructor, John Sutherland. In 1980 classical guitarist Jose Tomas, Andres Segovia's teaching assistant in Spain, held a week long master class in Atlanta, GA. Peter Fletcher was the youngest student to perform in the class, playing music by Bach and Carcassi.

In December, 1983, he made his formal debut at the age of fifteen under the auspices of The Brasstown Concert Association in North Carolina. Wrote the critic of The Cherokee Scout, “He has technical facility but what one remembers about his playing is the nuances, the poetical phrasing, dynamic and tonal changes, his harmonics, his cadences.”

Fletcher furthered his studies in Master Classes with David Leisner, David Russell, Oscar Ghiglia and Pepe Romero. As a performer in the Christopher Parkening Master Class he was chosen to play in the student recital two consecutive years and, in 1988, the class was broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). In 1990, the Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA) awarded Fletcher a prize at its National Level Competition, performing Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco’s Concerto in D. In 1995, he received the Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music under Nicholas Goluses, and was twice the recipient of an Eastman Graduate Award.

In demand as a performer in cultural venues throughout the country, Mr. Fletcher has been invited to give recitals at...[impressively long list of well known venues including Carnegie Hall].

Peter Fletcher believes in carrying on the Segovia tradition of expanding the comparatively small classical guitar repertoire. He plans to do this by transcribing from other instruments (mainly the piano) and also by commissioning new music.

Interests outside of music include reading and cross-country running. He lives in New York City.

I was amazed. Here was a world class musician coming to play a free concert in our local library. It didn't add up. I did a search for his name on the Internet and found something impressive: Peter Fletcher performs similar library concerts all around the country. What a nice thing to do. He certainly doesn't have to do this. Perhaps it's a unique way to see the country, or perhaps it helps him stay in shape in between his bigger concerts. Sure, he sells a few CDs at each gig, but that probably barely covers his travel and hotel expenses. I do certainly appreciate his generosity. Of course now I wanted to attend the concert even more.

As for the concert itself, it was wonderful. My favorite parts were an arrangement of the "Solveig's Song" from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, as well as Fletcher's own arrangements of two movements of another Grieg work (I remembered which right up until I sat down to write this), and two pieces from Ravel's Mother Goose Suite ("Pavane of Sleeping Beauty" and "Empress of the Pagodas"). Unfortunately he hasn't yet recorded any of these favorites of mine, although the Grieg will be on his upcoming recording and I found a video of the Ravel "Pavane." He claims the other Ravel piece is too difficult to record, but it sure sounded great tonight! It certainly did seem technically challenging and unique, with a pentatonic sound to it and some unique guitar techniques employed to evoke oriental tones. I would love to hear it again.

After the show I went up with my parents (who attended the concert with me, along with one of my daughters) to buy some CDs, and he graciously thanked us for attending his concert. Imagine, him thanking US for attending.

I was surprised at the modest turnout. Perhaps people don't look at signs like I do; perhaps people don't take the time to look up visiting musicians on the Internet like I do. We showed up an hour early, because we were worried that the library isn't very big and here was a world-class musician coming to town for a free concert! But there was plenty of seating right up until 5 minutes before showtime, and there were only about 50 seats.

So look up his website, and check out your local library listings. He might be coming to a library near you! And you'll get a chance to hear a great guitarist in a comfortable, intimate setting for free. If not, you can at least watch some of his videos here, and more on his website, and even try out his CDs.

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