“Segovia on Toast” – The Who’s Who of Melbourne’s Classical Guitar Scene

It was really heartening to see the Classical Guitar Society of Victoria’s usual rehearsal and concert spot (the beautiful St Stephen’s Church in Richmond, Melbourne) packed to the rafters for a guitar event last Saturday night.

 

It was slightly different to the usual concert-type affair, having a theme based around Andres Segovia’s two concerts at Melbourne Town Hall back in 1961 and 1964. 

 

The evening constituted a weaving together of Segovian repertoire – either in original forms, as transcribed or arranged by Segovia or as written by others specifically for Segovia – by some of Melbourne’s, and undoubtedly Australia’s, finest guitarists. 

 

In addition to this, there was some very interesting discussion and story-telling about El Maestro from a panel of the highest calibre, including Dan McKay, Susan Ellis, Ken Murray and Geoffrey Morris.

 

It cannot be denied that a large proportion of the audience would have been drawn by the promise of one Mr Slava Grigoryan. Unfortunately, however, Slava had fallen ill and was unable to attend – get better soon Slava!

 

More fortunately for the audience though, there was most definitely no noticeable gap in the programme or lack of quality playing and performance. We were treated to some excellent performances from Dan Nistico, Olivia Halley, Ben Dix, Geoffrey Morris , Ken Murray, Dan MacKay and Paul Nash.

 

Here’s my run-down of the performances, in a nutshell style!

 

  • Paul (who’s brainchild the evening was) presented us with some of his favourite pieces in the Segovian repertoire, including a sensitive rendition of El Noi de la Mare.

 

  • Dan McKay treated us to an energetic, empassioned, lively and committed rendering of the two inner movements of the Sonata by Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

 

  • Olivia Halley presented us with a sensitive and touching presentation of Torroba’s Sonatina.

 

  • Dan Nistico was awe-inspiring as usual, with fantastic flawless yet musical and bold rendition of Recuerdos de la Alhambra. I reckon you could hear a pin drop at the end…

 

  • Ben Dix gave us a very sensitive treatment of Torroba’s Fandanguillo, displaying his ever elegant sense of phrasing and movement in the piece.

 

  • Geoffrey Morris performed on a vihuella and baroque guitar, creating such a delicate haunting sound in the church, giving the audience a new (in an old way) take on “standards” of the classical guitar repertoire for which we have Segovia to thank (Canarios and Cancion del Emperador).

 

  • Ken Murray entertained us with a gorgeous Homanje by de Falla and a sumptuous  flamenco inflected piece (of which I’ve forgotten the name – naughty! Forgive me Ken!) by Angel Barrios.

 

It’s fair to say that we have some seriously good players in Melbourne at present, including these soaring up thought the ranks. It’s a fantastic time to be a guitarist in Melbourne. Can’t wait for the next event!

 

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