Phillip Lester is an acoustic and classical guitarist, composer and arranger for solo guitar. His compositions for fingerstyle guitar incorporate music of many traditions including, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Spanish, Jazz, and Contemporary Pop. His arrangements for solo guitar span the music of several generations from Bach to Beatles to Broadway musicals. His instrumental guitar music is characterized by beautiful melodies performed with a soothing and lyrical style. Phillip’s arrangements have been performed and recorded by the great American classical guitarist Christopher Parkening who describes Phillip as:
" a very fine solo guitarist, His approach to the guitar is both sensitive and intelligent. He is a talented arranger with a gift for musicianship."
The New England Performer Magazine writes, "Lester's imagination researches all the shades of coloring the acoustic guitar has to offer."
His recordings have been featured on radios stations from Portland, Oregon; to Boston, Massachusetts. Over the past twenty years, Phillip has worked with entertainment agencies and events coordinators in New York City, Boston, Orlando, and Southern California. He is presently residing in northern New Jersey and performing throughout the NY/NJ/CT area.
The Gourmet Guitar collection is Philllip's fourth and newest CD. The entire CD is designed around the concept of a Menu. The title reflects that the CD contains fine musical cuisine performed on classical guitar. The following menu notes describe the various appetizers, entrees, and desserts inside this collection.
The appetizers include short pieces from Italy and Spain. Pezzo Tedesco and Canzone are anonymous Italian Renaissance pieces that demonstrate the simple polyphonic melodies characteristic of that period. They were originally composed for the lute, the most popular instrument of the Renaissance and the predecessor of the guitar. Romanza is an anonymous Spanish melody circulating in Spain around 1930 and also found under the title of Spanish Romance. Romance de los Pinos is by Fredrico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982) a Spanish symphonic composer. Although he did not play the guitar himself, at the request of Andres Segovia, he composed numerous pieces for the instrument. Etude in B minor is also known as study no.5 in a collection of Twenty Studies for the guitar by Spanish guitarist Fernando Sor (1778-1839). Referred to as the "Beethoven of the guitar", Sor became the first great figure to bring the guitar into a concert hall setting. According to Segovia, Sor's studies represent "the balance of pedagogical efficiency and natural musical beauty."
The entrees in this collection begin with several transcriptions of works by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) regarded as the greatest composer of Baroque music. Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring (from Cantata 147) is one of Bach's most well known and loved chorals. This arrangement is based on a transcription for guitar by Rick Foster. Bach composed Minuet in G for his wife and thus the phrase “from the notebook of Anna Magdalena”is often added to the title. This arrangement for solo guitar reflects a slower tempo for a more meditative and relaxed mood. Prelude No. 1 (from the Well Tempered Clavier) is the first of 48 Preludes and Fugues intended for playing on the clavichord to demonstrate the capabilities of the well tempered scale that Bach favored. This prelude is based on an arpeggio pattern that begins with a simple major chord and then moves into a variety of majestic chords that take the listener on an emotional journey before returning to the opening major chord. This composition laid the chordal foundation for the famous Aria Ave Maria.
The Gymnopedies are by the impressionistic French composer Erik Satie (1866-1923). Unconventional in life-style as well as in his piano works, he was a musical visionary known for his lyrical pieces and use of advanced harmonies. The Gymnopedie was a ceremonial choral dance performed at ancient Greek festivals. Saraband is from a Suite in E minor by Deitrich Buxtehude (1637-1707). Whether it was originally intended for a keyboard instrument or for the lute is not known. Greensleeves was a favorite in Elizabethan times and remains one of the most popular tunes in history. This arrangement incorporates a number of variations on the theme. Canon in D was composed in 1699 by Johann Pachelbel. He was born in Nuremberg, Germany (1653-1706) and became one of the most brilliant organists of his day. He was court organist in Eisenach, the birthplace of J.S. Bach, and was a close friend of Bach's parents. The Canon in D is Pachelbel's best known composition. This transcription for solo guitar borrows from several piano and harp arrangements. This collection includes a sampler of original compositions by Phillip include Candlelight Prelude composed at the Good Stuff Cafe which once existed in Porter Square in Cambridge MA around 1990; When Hearts Touch is an instrumental love ballad composed on a snowy afternoon; Oriental Fantasy was inspired after attending a Chinese New Years festival; Shendendoah was arranged to reflect a nostalgic mood with a reoccuring bass line that attempts to convey a flowing river. Catalonian Folk Song is agentle and sweet melody arranged for solo guitar by Jack Marshall (1921-1973). The Catalonian song also goes by the title of El Noy Mar and was often a favorite encore piece of the legendary Andres Segovia, a dessert for his audiences.