Posts from ‘Articles’
After a long run of great flamenco blancas from Erez Perelman we’ve just received a new classical cedar-top from Erez. This also happens to be the 20th anniversary of the year Perelman started playing the classical guitar, and that fact inspired this instrument. Erez is not your typical builder – at least his background is quite different than that of many builders, so we asked him to write a little about himself and what has inspired his career as a luthier. What follows is what he sent us in response:
At heart I am an artist. As a kid, I would spend a lot of my spare time hanging out at my grandparents’ place. My grandfather, though he was a chemist by trade, had a passion for sculpting; especially with wood. I remember that he would find wood pieces in the forest and bring them back to his tiny workshop, where he’d lovingly sculpt them into inspiring artworks.
Cordoba Music Group (whose CEO, Tim Miklaucic, is also GSI’s CEO) has donated 50 guitars and cases to UCLA Community School’s ‘Guitar Heroes’ program, which gives students beginning in Middle School the opportunity to learn all about the guitar, guitar music and even music theory. There’s a nice article about it in Ampersand, UCLA’s graduate school newsletter.
Here’s another blog post from Matt Hinsley of the Austin Classical Guitar Society that I just had to share – they do such great work in Austin promoting the guitar and proving what a positive influence music can be in the lives of young people. They constantly impress and inspire me:
Eight high school boys in matching maroon T-shirts are focused intensely on Travis Marcum, our Director of Education. They are sitting with their left feet on footstools, holding classical guitars, playing a piece of music beautifully together. Their playing is not only synchronized, but it’s full of careful nuance with gorgeous and expressive moments that persist even in spite of the sporadic radio chatter from the guards just outside the open door in the hallway.
At the soft and slowing finish, Travis congratulates the group on their progress. This is the second performance of the piece this evening, and already they’ve refined tone, togetherness and several expressive moments. He asks if anyone has a comment and the boy to my right, Randy, raises his hand. “Sir, I didn’t think we were right together at the end of measure eight, sir.” One of the other boys nods at this observation, and Travis replies, “Excellent, let’s work on measure eight.”
One of the questions we’re asked a lot is ‘what’s the big deal about Conde guitars?’. Certainly no other name in flamenco guitars is quite as well known as Conde, and the reason is actually pretty simple – no other guitars are played by as many of the top flamenco players in Spain. Paco de Lucia has played a Conde since the beginning of his career (and many players from the generation before Paco played them as well), and while Paco has surely had a huge influence on almost every flamenco guitarist since, it’s hard to imagine that he’s the only reason so many great players play Condes. So I’ve put together some videos of just a few of the great players who play these guitars, and I’ll put up more soon. For starters here are Melchor de Marchena, a very young Paco de Lucia, Tomatito with Camarón, Pepe Habichuela, Gerardo Nuñez and Moraito, all playing their Condes. I’ve left out plenty of great players, but this feels like a good start.
Also check out Felipe Conde’s bio here. Felipe is the heir to the Conde tradition and we’re very happy to represent him here in the US.
Armenian-born guitarist Vahagni was at GSI last week to play some guitars, and as he had to make a video for his column in Fingerstyle 360, we decided to just shoot it at the showroom. So here he is playing a Bulerias falseta and then breaking it down for us on a great 1994 Jose Marin Plazuelo flamenco.
We’re very happy to announce that GSI is now the exclusive US representative of South Korean luthier Woon Sun Lee. Woon Sun built hundreds of student and concert guitars as an apprentice and established his own shop in 2009. We were first drawn to his fantastic woodworking skills, as you can see in the photos below, and were equally impressed by the sound of his guitars when we finally took delivery of our first instrument. We believe that Woon Sun has a very bright future as a luthier, and represents an outstanding value in a concert instrument. You can read woon Sun’s bio here, and you can see our first guitar from him here.
The photos below are of a rosewood guitar and a maple guitar of Woon Sun’s, and then of his workshop in what looks like a beautiful bit of the Korean countryside. Note the prodigious amount of wood that Woon Sun, like all good makers, has stockpiled.
Scott Morris recently published Volume 2 of his guitar method, Classical Guitar Complete – From Basics to Bach, so he stopped by to record a few companion videos. His first lesson deals with playing in various positions in order to get away from first position when that makes sense (and he goes into why it does often make sense), and he uses his piece ‘Where U At’, which is playable in five positions, to illustrate. Scott is playing a 1966 cedar-top Ramirez 1a in this video.
We first heard about Alec Holcomb when luthier Sebastian Stenzel told us that there was a remarkable young guitarist in Tennessee who was making quite a name for himself and playing Stenzel’s guitars. When we saw the list of competitors for the 2012 Parkening Int’l Guitar Competition there was Alec, so we thought we’d see if he wanted to stop by for a chat. As it turns out, Alec took first prize in the Young Guitarist division (ages 17 and under), which isn’t so surprising once you’ve heard him play.
Alec and his dad Ron (his first teacher) stopped by and played a bit for us, and he was indeed an impressive and thoughtful player – and not just for a 17-year-old. David Collett had some questions for him, and what follows is his interview with Alec, and a video of Alec playing Bach’s Prelude #6 on his father’s 2006 Stenzel. For Alec’s bio and more information about his schedule you can check out his website.
A Success Story and an Amazing Letter
If only students here could be touched by the divine power of music as I have.
- Twelve-year-old Guitar Student, Central Texas, April 5th, 2012
I would like to share a truly remarkable letter I recently received from a 12 year-old here in Texas, along with a wonderful story from my friend Bill Ash at the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society.
Several weeks ago the President of the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society, William Ash, shared a link to a heartwarming TV story with me about his work in guitar education. Here is the link. I asked Bill to give me a bit of background:
“We started this program after taking Chris Mallett and Thomas Flippin – Guitar Duo Noire – to visit nine St. Louis City schools. Both students and teachers responded with terrific enthusiasm! We found three music teachers who told us they’d love to start guitar programs in their schools. We sent letters to all our members and contributors outlining the need, and over 20 of them responded with $4400 to buy guitars! We also got a donation of $5,000 from the local Rotary Club. Our local retail store/sponsor Music Folk got us nice Alvarez RC-12 classical guitars at wholesale ($150 ea, with hardshell cases), and we bought and presented them to the first school, Lyon Elementary. This is the first phase, just getting the guitars in the possession of the schools. The kids and teachers are really excited about it!”
Here is another in Matt Hinsley’s great series about inspiring educators who dedicate themselves to teaching the guitar to young people:
Dr. Michael Quantz and the Brownsville Guitar Ensemble Festival
When I was teaching high school here in Brownsville, I had a parent approach me after one of our spring concerts. Her son had been in the guitar group for three years and was about to graduate. She had hardly spoken to me until this moment. That night she was in tears and could hardly speak. As she composed herself she told me how wonderful it was that her son, who was in the special education program, was able to participate so fully in anything at school as he had done in his guitar classes. She had never before seen him be so committed, improve so much, or be such a welcomed member of a group that did cool stuff.
- Dr. Michael Quantz