The 2014 New York Guitar Seminar at Mannes opened with a June 24, 2014 evening concert with guest artist, Brazilian classical guitarist Fábio Zanon, at the Americas Society on Park Avenue in New York. The event was sponsored by the MetLife Foundation and featured as part of the Music of the Americas Concert Series.
The concert was held within two rooms just beyond the grand marble staircase inside the 1909 home that had originally been the residence of New York financier Percy Rivington Pyne II. The audience sat in folding chairs set up between two salons decorated with padded yellow and cream French silk striped fabric walls and draperies set into 10-foot tall windows with wrought-iron balconies overlooking Park Avenue. The high ceiling overhead features oval medallion plasterwork insets with oil paintings of cherubs and pastoral scenery and a glimmer of sconce crystals along the wall directs one’s attention to the more brightly lit chandelier in the main room where, on this occasion, Fábio Zanon sat upon a raised dias. On the wall behind him, a portion of the audience sat framed within shadowy rows reflected inside an enormous, antique Federal-era mirror.
Brazilian-born Fábio Zanon studied at the Universidad de São Paulo and the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he is currently appointed as Visiting Professor of Guitar. He won both the GFA and Tárrega competitions in 1996 and has since claimed numerous accolades for his concerts and recordings.
Zanon performed a nearly two-hour long concert with a brief intermission. The first half opened with Purcell’s Six Keyboard Lessons in 6 stately, ornamented movements with sweet tone followed by Manuel Ponce’s elegant, beautifully intense art deco jazzy update of Sor’s Op. 15 Folies D’Espagne, i.e., his Variations and Fugue on ‘La Folia d’Espagne.’
Just outside the window, an orange-hued light appeared to intensify and glow from behind the wrought ironwork doorways across the street with the kind of subtlety that seemed to be purely one’s imagination or else the effects of listening to the music. Then a stroke of bold grey rose out of the silt on top of the ironwork and the last of the day’s light refracted sharply against a glass windowpane, capturing the movement of a small dog’s skinny frantic legs darting by. In this one brief moment, all seemed perfectly orchestrated between the music, the chaos and the colors transitioning to dusk falling over the city on a hot night filled with giddy whoops of new university graduates twirling for cameras in their tasseled caps and billowing gowns as impatient drivers honked and swerved on the street below.
After intermission, Zanon performed a thoroughly transporting rendition of J.S. Bach’s Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998 followed by Enrique Granados’ evocative Spanish Dance no. 5, “Andaluza,” Spanish Dance no. 4, “Villanesca,” and the ever-slinky Tonadilla: La Maja de Goya. Zanon then launched into Francisco Mignone’s spry Etude no 9: Allegretto Moderato and sweetly speedy ascending melody of Etude no. 4: Allegro Scherzoso. For the last two pieces of the concert, Zanon veered toward the contemporary with a piece by samba superstar Paulinho da Viola—Itanhangá–a gentle, gorgeously sentimental ballad and Marc Pereira’s joyful Bate-Coxa. Pereira is a contemporary composer best described as a kind of an exuberant, Brazilian Vince Guaraldi.
This had been a superb concert and a beautiful beginning to the guitar seminar.
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Fábio Zanon is a featured interviewee in My First Guitar: Tales of True Love and Lost Chords (ECW Press).