The United States isn't a stranger to Spanish guitar. For years the music's character has been pervasive in this country, with musicians continually noting guitarits such as Andre Segovia as influences. It's musical heritage that extends as far back as the Renaissance in Europe and modern instrument manufacturers cite the 19th century Spanish advancements in instrument design as pivotal to the development of the modern classical guitar. But only just recently, one of Spain's newest guitar innovations has reached this continent: the guitar orchestra.
Last week, the Orquestra de Guitarres de Barcelona (that's Guitar Orchestra of Barcelona, if you really need to know) began its tour of the US. Conducted by composer Sergi Vicente, the orchestra consists of 25 musicians all playing the same instrument -the Spanish guitar. They began as informal ensembles of seven or eight guitarists and really just got bigger from there. Now, they're playing things like Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and Albeniz’s Suite Espanola No. 1, to audiences of 1700 or more.
Pretty cool that a group as big as that can all play an instrument that isn't normally played in numbers like that. Funny how some instruments are designated as fit to be played in large numbers and others are not. Violins, yes. Kazoos, no. Just doesn't make any sense...
They're actually playing tonight at the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College in Danville and the show would have already started like... 15 minutes ago. Sigh. Organic chemistry homework gets in the way of everything.