The Philadelphia Classical Guitar Trio are advocates for expanding the range of the existing repertoire by performing music not usually heard on the classical guitar. Their programs celebrate the diversity of the instrument. A typical Philly Guitar Trio concert might include a Vivaldi Concerto, selections from Bizet's "Carmen", Cuban and Puerto Rican danzas, Piazzolla tangos, fandangos from Spain, and maybe even a couple of Scott Joplin rags.
". . . With 18 strings at their disposal the Trio created an imaginary mural with treble and bass." (Pottsville Republican Herald) Whether they are premiering new compositions at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, performing at the Kimmel Center's opening celebration or traveling the Mid-Atlantic region to play for audiences who might not have many opportunities to hear a classical guitar, the Philly Guitar Trio believes in putting audiences at ease by inviting them into their exciting musical world ". . . technical mastery and inspired phrasing, warmth and elegance... the Trio blended their sounds perfectly . . ." The Jamestown Post Journal (NY)
Formed in 1995, the members of the Trio hold degrees from Temple University and the University of the Arts where they studied with Peter Segal and Jack Leonard. Their inclusion on the Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour Artist Roster has taken them across Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and West Virginia. In the Philadelphia area the Trio has presented concerts for the Latin American Guild for the Arts, Matinee Musical Club, Asociación de Músicos Latinoamericanos, and the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society. Through the Appel Farm Center for the Arts, the Trio presented a residency series of assemblies aimed at introducing Southern New Jersey public school students to the classical guitar. Abroad, they were the featured performers for the 1999 Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Puerto Rico and for the Third Encuentro Internacional de Guitarra Panamá 1999.
About the Music
Although the word "danza" simply translates to "dance", it can mean different things to different cultures. The Danza Puertorriqueña is always written in 2/4 meter and consists of a short introduction or "paseo" to which the dancers promenade before the actual dancing.
This is followed by the body of the composition which usually consists of three or four sections each containing
a distinct and characteristic rhythm.
Ragtime was a national craze from about 1897 to 1917 and Scott Joplin (1868 - 1917) became one of its major composers. After years of playing in saloons and brothels throughout the Midwest, Joplin settled in St. Louis around 1890. It was here that the development of "Ragtime" took hold. Blending European compositional forms and African American rhythms, Joplin honed his new musical genre. In 1894 he moved to Sedalia, Missouri, where he played at the Maple Leaf Club which would eventually provide the title for his well known composition, the Maple Leaf Rag.
Joplin's piano rags are in strict duple meter and have clearly divided sections. The pianist's left hand (in these arrangements the third guitar part) establishes the harmonies and maintains a rhythm, while the right hand (guitars 1 and 2) ornaments the chordal foundation with syncopation, scale runs and arpeggios. Heliotrope Bouquet and Solace differ slightly from the Ragtime norm in that they both are driven by a "habañera" rhythm in the bass.
Ignacio Cervantes (1847 - 1905) is an important figure in Cuban music history. Trained in the European romantic style, he was among the first composers to incorporate native Cuban rhythms and idioms in concert music. He also studied piano with the composer Louis Gottschalk while the American virtuoso lived in Havana.
His Six Cuban Danzas for piano are a hybrid of the Danza Puertorriqueña and the compositional style of Chopin, whom Cervantes is said to have admired. In addition to being a composer, Cervantes toured the United States and Mexico as a concert pianist.
Louis Moreau Gottschalk was born in New Orleans in 1829 to a German father and a West Indies-born mother. He was a child prodigy and in 1841 was sent to Paris to study piano and composition. In Europe his virtuosic playing and exotic Creole-inspired compositions made him a celebrity at a young age. Although Gottschalk returned to the United States in 1853, he never set up residence, preferring instead to concertize between Europe, South America and the Caribbean.
Souvenir de Puerto Rico is sub-titled March of the Gibaros, a Spanish term for Puerto Rican peasants. The main melody is derived from a Puerto Rican "aguinaldo," or carol, sung at Christmas-time by strolling musicians. The piece is conceived as a march with variations, starting quietly in the distance, building to a climax, and then gradually fading away. Gottschalk composed Souvenir de Puerto Rico during his five year stay in the Antilles.