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