The one piece of advice I think important for classical guitarists is to play chamber music- Rupert Boyd

                                                                                                                                      Photo: Calcutta Classical Guitar Societcy
New York-based Australian classical guitarist Rupert Boyd is acclaimed as one of the most talented guitarists of his generation. He has been described by The Washington Post as “truly evocative,” and by Classical Guitar Magazine as “a player who deserves to be heard.” His performances have taken him across four continents, from New York’s Carnegie Hall, to the Barcelona Guitar Festival in Spain, Strings-139 Festival in China, Festival de Musique Classique in France, and every state and territory in mainland Australia. Active as both a soloist and chamber musician, Rupert Boyd regularly performs throughout the world as half of the Australian Guitar Duo with guitarist Jacob Cordover. The duo has performed throughout the world, including appearances in the United States, France, Spain, China, The Philippines and all throughout Australia. The duo was a prizewinner of the Chamber Music section of the Australian Guitar Competition, and their debut CD Songs from the Forest was released in March 2012 and was described as “wonderfully entertaining” by Classical Guitar Magazine, and “very impressive” by Soundboard Magazine.Recently, Calcutta Classical Guitar Society in association with Alliance Francaise du Bengale presented Rupert Boyd live in concert for the first time in Kolkata.

What is it that drew you to the classical guitar and what do you love about the instrument?

I really love so much about the guitar. I think what initially drew me to the instrument is that it is one of the most personal and intimate of all instruments, and can create a vast range of beautiful colours and sounds. The guitar too is so universal, and can be used to play most styles of music. As a classical guitarist though, I love that we can play music written 400 years ago, or music written yesterday, and works written all around the world.

Who or what are your inspirations? What is that inspires you?

I have many inspirations, a lot from pop music including Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, etc.. I also love art and visiting museums on my travels around the world. While a completely different medium, I love finding paintings that communicate something to me, and make me feel an emotion or experience. In terms of classical guitarists, I think we all owe a great debt to the Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia, who did so much to make the classical guitar be considered a serious classical instrument, and I also love the recordings by Julian Bream, which are filled with expression, nuance, and imagination.

We hear people say that many guitarists today are overly concerned with precision and accuracy, perhaps due to recordings, but at the expense of beautiful, artistic playing. Do you agree?

I do think there has been a huge increase in virtuosity on the classical guitar over the past few decades. The pedagogy and standard seems to be higher than it has ever been. It’s a common criticism levelled at competition winners that they are overly concerned about precision and technique at the expense of musicality, but I think this is not just limited to the guitar, nor even limited just to musicians. I personally find that I enjoy performances of musicians who really have something personal to say, and I seek out those players. There does need to be a certain level of proficiency in a concertising musician, but I personally much more enjoy hearing someone really express something through music even if there are some occasional slips here or there, than hearing someone who merely plays every note with complete accuracy.

When you compose music, where does it come from? Do you spend much or any of your time in formal composition as opposed to improvisation becoming the composition?

At this stage of my life, I don’t compose a lot of music. Instead, I’m loving playing compositions from the canon of works written over the past 400 years, and still have so many more that I want to learn. I am open to the idea  of composing though, and feel that one day either the inspiration will suddenly take me, or I’ll devote the time to writing some of my own works.
                  Photo: Harold Levine

What recent trends have you been noticing with respect to classical guitar scenario?

There has been a great increase in the amount of wonderful guitarists on the scene today. Nowadays with YouTube and social media, it’s possible to see so many great guitarists all around the world, and really interesting to see the different repertoire that everyone is playing. There is of course, a core repertoire of pieces that you see many people playing, and usually these are the really great works that we can play on guitar, but it’s also great to see what local music different guitarist are playing from where they live. Especially in my ensemble the Australian Guitar Duo, I love to play contemporary compositions by Australian composers like Phillip Houghton, Ross Edwards, Nigel Westlake, et al, which are often not well known outside Australia, but every bit as good as anything being written for the guitar in this day and age.

Your word of advice for aspiring classical guitarists?

The one piece of advice I think important for classical guitarists is to play chamber music. As classical guitarists it’s very easy to spend so much time practicing and performing alone, that we often don’t get to have the experience of playing music with other musicians. The great thing about the guitar is that we can play in so many different ensembles. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have played in duos with many instruments, including violin, cello, flute, voice, guitar and even some more unusual ensembles with accordion and soprano saxophone. In addition to being a very enjoyable experience, it can also be a great learning opportunity to play with other instruments and be able to try to work with the technical limitations inherent to all instruments.

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