“classical iconoclast Michael Nicolella continues to push the boundaries of the genre, both as a composer and player”
“Every once in a while a CD comes along for review which is completely innovative and unlike most others in its sheer inventiveness and musicality; here is this years’ one for me.”
Ten Years Passed Program notes:
I am surprised how often a composition or album can take on an identity of it’s own beyond what I had originally conceived. Sometimes it seems as though the piece itself wills its own ideas upon you - or maybe it just mirrors back emotions which you placed there unknowingly.
Such was the case with both this album and its individual title track. The piece “Ten Years Passed,” for electric guitar and orchestra earned its title well into the compositional process. As I listened to the piece in my head I was repeatedly reminded of events and changes in both my life and the world at large, over the past decade. I began ruminating over this seemingly arbitrary time span of ten years; how it can pass by so quickly, yet on reflection, you realize the enormity of change that has ensued during that period. This theme of reflection, even nostalgia, seemed to instill itself on to the album as a whole. I instinctively chose pieces without any conscious attempt at a theme only to be hit by it upon listening through the finished album. I guess I should have realized an album which included references to two Christmas songs (Robert Beaser’s Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant” is based on a French Christmas carol, while Frank Wallace’s “Dreams on A Lullaby” is a set of variations on the Catalan Christmas song El Noi De La Mare) and ends with Toru Takemitsu’s arrangement of Paul McCartney’s Yesterday would impart a certain nostalgia. But in context, a sense of reflection also seems to permeate the other works of Hans Werner Henze, Robert Beaser, Laurence Crane, Jacob ter Veldhuis, Octavio Vazquez and myself.
It now seems fitting that my earliest musical memory is of my parents painting the living room to the strains of Frank Sinatra’s similarly themed concept album “September of My Years,” in which he “sings of days and loves ago.” After all, “when you have loved and lost the way Frank has, then you know what life’s about…”
Michael Nicolella is recognized as one of America's most innovative classical guitarists. He has received wide critical acclaim for his performances, recordings and compositions. Classical Guitar magazine recently referred to him as “one of the contemporary guitar’s most gifted stars”; while the Washington Post stated “Since the passing of Andres Segovia the guitar world has needed an advocate... perhaps Michael Nicolella is that person.”
A uniquely eclectic and versatile artist, Michael blurs the lines between musical styles and disciplines. He is part of a growing trend in classical music to revitalize the role of the composer/performer. As a concert artist he frequently programs his own works for guitar in solo, chamber and orchestral settings. Known for his creative programming, he has introduced electric guitar into his "classical" programs and extended the repertoire and audience of his instrument not only with his own compositions and transcriptions, but also by premiering and commissioning works by some of today's most exciting emerging composers.
Michael has performed with the Seattle Symphony, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Ensemble Sospeso, odeonquartet, Seattle Choral Company and Charanga Danzon. As a performer and composer, he has received awards from ASCAP, the American Composers Forum, 4Culture, Wisconsin Arts Board, Washington State Arts Commission, Seattle Arts Commission and was first prize winner of both the Portland and Northwest solo classical guitar competitions.
Michael is a graduate of Yale University, Berklee College of Music and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy. He is on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.