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Classical Guitar Series

For the Davis Art Center’s upcoming classical guitar series, performers and concert organizers are embracing Chopin’s mantra—“Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two”—by presenting classical and innovative pieces performed by guitar ensembles, quartets and trios.

The series kicks off on February 11 with a performance by the talented guitar students of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. On March 11 the Art Center will welcome back the San Francisco Guitar Quartet, who played to a packed house at DAC in 2009.  Pacific Guitar Ensemble will perform April 22 and, lastly, Trio 7, a unique guitar trio of extended 7-string guitars, on May 6. All concerts start at 8 pm in the Davis Art Center’s intimate Atrium setting, 1919 F Street in Davis. There is a $5-$15 donation at the door.

For the upcoming performance on February 11, SF Conservatory of Music students present “Doublespeak Guitar Project.”  This unusual multi-faceted program—the result of a yearlong collaboration between composition and guitar students—will include 20 new guitar works created for large guitar ensembles, quartets, trios, and solos. David Tanenbaum, renowned soloist and SFCM Guitar Department Chair, and faculty composer Dan Becker will conduct two of the pieces.

In March, the San Francisco Guitar Quartet (David Duenas, Mark Simons, Patrick O’Connell and Jonathan Mendle), whose sold out concert at DAC was a highlight in 2009, returns to Davis to present an exciting program of contemporary music. The performance will include the thirteen-movement “Winchester Mystery House Suite,” featuring Mendle’s impressive work on the 11-string Archguitar.

Mendle and Tanenbaum will appear again in April with the Pacific Guitar Ensemble, along with other members Marc Teicholz, Michael Bautista, Lawrence Ferrara, Tony Kakamakov and Paul Psarras. This group’s repertoire features original music written by composers such as Brazilian guitar legend Sergio Assad, noted minimalist Belinda Reynolds, and the group’s own brilliant steel-string stylist Peppino D’Agostino, as well as fresh arrangements of great composers from Bach to Brahms and Dowland to Rossini.

The classical guitar series was organized by Davis-based guitarist and teacher Matthew Grasso, who will perform with Eric Rasmussen and Matthew Foley in Trio 7 to conclude the series in May. Grasso also booked the highly successful guitar series at DAC in fall 2009, which proved DAC’s Atrium stage is a superb venue for enjoying the rich tones of the acoustic guitar.

Mendle—who recently toured with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble—agreed with that assessment, saying he looks forward to playing the Art Center again.

“Intimate venues are my favorite places to perform,” he said, “and the Davis Art Center is great because I feel like I have a connection with the audience, rather than feeling like ‘I am the performer, and they are the listeners.’”

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