LAGQ at Town Hall

LAGQ at Town Hall, New York.  Photo by Julia Crowe.

LAGQ at Town Hall, New York. Photo by Julia Crowe.

The Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet performed this past spring at Town Hall as part of the People’s Symphony Concerts, a series founded in 1900 by German conductor Franz Arens to present the best of classical music to students and working people of New York City at affordable ticket prices. Several years ago, the quartet performed memorably at the series’ other venue located near Gramercy Park, at Washington Irving High School, with its spectacular Art Deco stage.

Other notable artists who have performed for the People’s Symphony Concerts include Joshua Bell, the Julliard String Quartet, Isaac Stern, James Galway, Pamela Frank , Claudio Arrau, Emmanuel Ax, the Guarneri String Quartet and the new music ensemble Eighth Blackbird, to name just a few.




The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet opened the first half of their concert program with John Dearman’s arrangement of twelve of Michael Praetorius’ rollicking Dances from “Terpsichore,” written in 1612. The second piece on the program was Kanengiser’s arrangement of Stravinsky’s Suite from the ballet Pulcinella and they closed with the crowd-pleasing, dizzying crescendo provided by Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, arranged by Kanengiser and Minei.

LAGQ at Town Hall, New York. (Left to right: Scott Tennant, Matt Greif, John Dearman, William Kanengiser) Photo by Julia Crowe.

LAGQ at Town Hall, New York. (Left to right: Scott Tennant, Matt Greif, John Dearman, William Kanengiser) Photo by Julia Crowe.

The second half of their program featured Ian Krouse’s Music in Four Sharps, based on Dowland’s Frog Galliard, followed by an enthusiastic mini “World Tour” set of pieces that playfully explored the sounds and textures of the guitar through a varied cultural palette, starting with guitars prepared with alligator clips for Kanengiser’s Indonesian-flavored Gongan, Gerald Garcia’s Spring Snow, Horacio Salinas’ La Fiesta de la Tirana, Baden Powell de Aquino’s Samba Novo and Scott Tennant and Simon Jeffes’ jaunty Celtic Fare of Daya’s Spin, Music for a Found Harmonium/The Cat-Cow Reel. If the last piece seemed at all familiar to some, it was the theme used for the film Napoleon Dynamite.

Their playing, as ever, was superb and delivered entertainingly and engagingly. All else that needs to be said is that a classical guitar quartet filled the house to capacity with a deeply appreciative crowd. Afterward, I did catch sight of Bill, John, Scott and Matt squeezing their way along with the pulsing stream of the crowd exiting through the theatre doors as they sought to take their seats at a table set up for them for CD signing in the lobby. They were immediately engulfed, like rock stars, with well-wishers with walkers and numerous requests for cell-phone snapshots.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet takes a bow at Town Hall, New York. Photo by Julia Crowe.

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet takes a bow at Town Hall, New York. Photo by Julia Crowe.

Framed program of Andres Segovia's Town Hall, New York concert recital from their 1928-1929 concert season. Photo by Julia Crowe.

Framed program of Andres Segovia’s Town Hall, New York concert recital from their 1928-1929 concert season. Photo by Julia Crowe.

For classical guitar aficionados, there is an item of historical interest on the second floor landing:  a framed program of Andres Segovia’s recital from the 1928-1929 concert season:

Close-up of program repertoire. Photo by Julia Crowe.

Close-up of program repertoire. Photo by Julia Crowe.

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My personal thanks goes to David Himmelheber and the staff at Town Hall for their kind assistance and helpful direction.