Maestro Dan Grigore

The interview below is not guitar related. It is an interview I did with Maestro Dan Grigore from 2007 in the period when I ran the website PhiladelphiaClassicalMusic.com. The website is no longer running though the words I don’t want to be lost. It is one of my favorite interviews. I was told later that the Maestro also enjoyed the conversation because he was never asked the line of questioned I asked.

Dan Grigore
Celebrating 50 years on stage
Friday November 2, 2007
Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, PA special thanks to Valentin Radu for translating.

dan-grigore-evz-1.jpg

PCM: You are a very distinguished artist in Romania but here in the United States there is very little information about you. I understand you were a child prodigy. What age did you discover the piano?

Dan Grigore: I was three and a half.

DC: How did you discover it?

Dan: We had an old up right piano in the house. I started by reaching up and playing the keys. And then I heard waltzes and romantic songs on the radio and I would start to reproduce them on the piano and then I would make up my own compositions.

PCM: Your parents recognized this?

Dan: My mother was a very gifted amateur violinist, my grandfather was very gifted painter and musician. He found my first teacher. After that I started to study harmony.

PCM: Was it hard to study in a communist regime?

Dan: There was a teacher named Mihail Jora who recognized my talent and helped me to get approved not to attend daily school but to have special schooling. Because of that I was kind of spared some of the hardships of the communist regime.

Twice a year I had to have exams to show I was learning the regular disciplines including sports. For my physical education test I had to jump over a hose. (laughter).

Then Jora’s wife got arrested and jailed for a year because her sister’s husband spoke on Radio Free Europe. There were no trails, two guys in leather coats would just show up and many times you didn’t know what was happening.

When my grandfather was 80 years old, he wrote a letter about the conditions in Romania at the time and threw it over the fence of the American Embassy in Bucharest and the KGB people saw this and he was arrested and put in a hard labor camp for seven years. His family was trying to get him out and said he didn’t mean to do this and that he was irresponsible and crazy. He said, “No I’m not! I am responsible and I know what I am doing!”.

PCM: How old were you when that happened?

Dan: Fourteen or fifteen.

PCM: Did it affect you in your musical career?

Dan: My family and I were suspected after that. You have to understand how paranoid these people were. Remember I said my teacher’s wife was arrested too.

After my grandfather got out of the camp there was a regime change and there was another leader named Nicholau Ceaussescu. He was the one everyone knows but we had bad leaders before him as well.

When he came to power he stared a nationalistic attitude of freedom. In 1968 when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, Romania was the only communist country that didn’t sent troops. Ceaussescu received a lot of international recognition for that, even in the West. My grandfather wrote a letter to Ceaussescu praising him for his nationalist attitude and standing up to the Soviet Union. Ceaussescu got the letter and asked his assistants about this man. He was told that my grandfather was an old man who spent time in jail and that he was very poor and didn’t have a pension anymore. Ceaussescu ordered his pension to be restored, all including from the time he spent in prison.

I speak a lot about my grandfather because he was my hero. He is where I got my moral core from. He is my inspiration and thanks to him I got the power to endure what life was like at that time.

PCM: When did you make your concert debut?

Dan: My concert debut was in October 16, 1957 with three pieces by Enescsu.

PCM: You also taught at the University of Bucharest?

Dan: I was head of the piano department at the University of Bucharest from 1967 until 1969 and then after the revolution 1991-2002. I left the position five years ago because I wanted certain reforms in the education and administration. I had no help or support.

PCM: What would the government do to control your career?

Dan: I was not allowed for many years to leave Romania to perform. I was not even allowed to go into other communist countries. They would invite me but the state agency that organized concerts for every Romanian artist without my knowledge would write the promoters that I broke my arm, I broke my leg or was sick otherwise. I didn’t even know about that until after the fall of Ceaussescu. They would mix up the hands they said I broke. Sometime they would say it was my right hand and sometimes they would say it was my left.

At one point I was allowed to go on a tour of Western Europe. The only reason I was able to do that was because the official government pianist got sick and the organizers in other countries said they would not allow that program to be changed. They wanted somebody that could play that repertoire. There was a lot of money invested in that tour for the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra. It was right after the big earthquake in Romania in 1977. There was a woman from the state agency that told the promoters not to cancel the tour.  She said “you have to take my word for it, I have a man that can play these pieces.”  Then the press came out and the front of the Soviet papers  said, “Joy and Jubilation For the Replacement.”

The year 1996 was a very bleak year for the revolution in Romania. The Palace of Congress in Bucharest where Ceaussescu held the party Congresses, was a huge hall that seats about five thousand five hundred people. I had to play a big concert there with the Bucharest Philharmonic. We played the Beethoven Emperor Concerto and at the end I played two encores. The first one was a little Beethoven minuet and the second encore was a rag time by Scott Joplin. Everybody stood up and started to clap and cheer because it was clear that it was a message, not just a piece of music.

The next day Ceaussescu forbid any musical activity in that palace again because he was so paranoid. Secondly, the American Embassy made arrangements for me to be invited to America for a month (all expenses paid) to be part of a cultural exchange program. Of course, Ceaussescu did not allow that to happen. I used to do these encores in other concerts too. I wanted to show the Ceaussescu regime how out of touch with the times it was.

PCM: Was it dangerous for you?

Dan: Somehow they never put me in the gulag but I was prohibited to play anywhere. I constantly got threats. They threatened to fire me from all my jobs and I dared them. I said, “Fine, please. I will wear a sign on my chest that says, “Romanian Pianist Hungry, Needs Job” and I will walk in front of the central committee of the Communist Party.

PCM: Are you married?

Dan: I have a wife and a son.

PCM: What was your wife’s reaction to this?

Dan: She told me that if there is any possibility or occasion that I have to defect to the West to be a free artist please do it because she would be fine in Romania and we’ll find another way to reunite and some point. I knew my family would never be fine if I defected.  So, I never did.

PCM: Did you worry about students like Valetin Radu who played jazz?

Dan: I didn’t know he was doing that like he didn’t know what I was doing in my concerts. It’s like don’t ask don’t tell.

PCM: Were your students in danger for being your students?

Dan: Yes, they were under the scope because of the connection.

PCM: Did anything happen to any of your students?

Dan: I don’t know about many of them.  But one of my best students won a scholarship to study in Boston and the Ceaussescu regime wouldn’t allow him to go and, as a result, he was in Bucharest at the time of the earthquake in 1977 and died very tragically.

PCM: Before Valentin came to the United States in 1978 was he able to tell you he was leaving?

Dan: You wouldn’t announce to anyone that you were leaving until you are already where you were going out of fear that something might happen to you on the way to the airport.

PCM: How did you stay in touch with Valintin after he came here?

Dan: We lost touch for many years. Valentin didn’t return to Romania for many years. When he did  he would visit me at the University and bring me American cigarettes. I smoked then. Then he stopped coming back to Romania again for many years.

We lost connection for almost 8 years, 1985 -1993. The first time I played in the United Sates was in 1993 in Plainfield New Jersey. The Romanian ambassador in Washington DC drove up to see my performance. He told me that he made a sacrifice to see me because Valentin Radu was performing in Philadelphia that same night. He didn’t know we were teacher and student and I didn’t know they were friends. He said that you can hear Valentin in Philadelphia anytime. I said, “Valentin is in Philadelphia?  You must give him my best”.  That was how we rekindled our relationship.

PCM: The concert this weekend is a celebration of your fifty years on stage. Congratulations!

Dan: Thank you!  There is a celebration in Romania and Philadelphia.

(Valentin Radu has been translating)

Valentin Radu: This is a jubilee concert of fifty years and a very significant event. I am very proud that we are doing this to celebrate Maestro Grigore and he joined us. Last year we marked ten years of collaboration between Ama Deus Ensemble and Dan Grigore.  I am very humbled that he is doing this.  It will be the first time we perform the Grieg Piano Concerto.  This is the first actual concert that Maestro will do fifty years after the date of his debut on October 16th 1957 in Bucharest.

Duo Firenze fortepiano and guitar duo

DUO FIRENZE
Sunday, May 15, 2016 – 3 PM
Trinity Center for Urban Life, 22nd & Spruce Sts
General: $25; Student/Senior: $15; Member: $10

DUO FIRENZE
Duo Firenze is a major force in the discovery and authentic performance of early 19th-century music for guitar and fortepiano duet. Touring with their own period Viennese fortepiano and 19th- century guitars, they give audiences a rare visual and sonic experience. The duo was formed in 1990 after a discovery of works for the medium of guitar and fortepiano. Duo Firenze takes it name from the Italian city of Florence, the birthplace of the fortepiano and where the six-stringed guitar flourished. A prizewinner in the Concorso Internazional “Arturo Toscanini” for chamber music in Italy, Duo Firenze has not only dedicated themselves to giving revival performances to this once forgotten art, but has succeeded in delighting audiences in the United States and Europe.
In past summers, Duo Firenze has been in residence as performers and teachers in period instrument performance at the Accademia L’Ottocento in Rome and Verbania. Duo Firenze is the receipient of grants from Radford University, Johns Hopkins, Peabody Conservatory and from the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA) having been on the VCA’s touring roster for five seasons. Their compact disc “Italian Nocturnes: Early Romantic Music for fortepiano and guitar” (DIS80156), featuring world premieres has received accolades from the US to the Far East and is available internationally on the Dorian label (Dorian 80156 http://www.dorian.com). Information about the duo can be found at: http://www.radford.edu/~rstrent and at http://www.duofirenze.com.

 

Program:

 

Grande Sonata for fortepiano and guitar, Op. 102 by Anton Diabelli
Two Sonatas by Ferdinando Carulli
Variazioni sopra ‘Nel cor piu non mi sento’e Polonaise by Mauro Giuliani
– INTERMISSION –
La Source du Lyson Op. 47 by Napoleon Coste
Second Nocturne, Op. 44 by Francesco Molino
Deux Duos, Op. 233, No. 1 by Ferdinando Carulli

2016 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Festival

c647c8f7-a24c-4c91-bbaa-773b71ffeb55
Announcing the 2016 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Festival presented by the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society featuring Greek guitar virtuoso Antigoni Goni, multiple competition winning guitarist Matthew Palmer, and 2015 Philadephia Classical Guitar Competition winner Alec Holcomb.
The Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society is pleased to announce the 2016 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Festival to be held April 9-10, 2016 with an opening concert by Greek guitar virtuoso Antigoni Goni on April 9 at 7:30pm at Trinity Center for Urban Life in Philadelphia, PA and a full day of events on April 10, 2016 at the Mary Louise Curtis Branch of the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, PA.
The festival will feature concerts by guitar legend Antigoni Goni, 2015 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Competition winner Alec Holcomb, and a closing concert with the PCGS orchestra and young virtuoso Matthew Palmer.  Other events will include a masterclass with Antigoni Goni, workshops, student recitals, and a vendor fair which include guitar builders, composers, guitar accessories, guitar repair, and sheet music vendors.
This festival is partly made possible by the generous support from the D’Addario Foundation.
This year’s artists have received acclaim around the world:
Antigoni Goni “… In her hands every tone is a whole world in itself. Pulled together, the result is a cosmos of sound and melodies…” THE SALBAU-Germany
Matthew Palmer “Classical guitarist Matt Palmer is one of a kind. Combining the soul of an artist, the technical virtuosity of the highest caliber and a heightened sense of musicality, Palmer’s uniqueness is also his greatest strength. While other guitarists possess a comparable level of expression, technicality and musicality, to find them all in one player, and at a young age, is a rare occurrence to say the least.” – Guitar International Magazine
Recent first prize wins include the East Carolina Guitar Competition (2014) and the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Competition (2015). Alec received 4th prize at the renowned Parkening International Guitar Competition (2015). Most recently, Alec won 2nd place at Columbus State University Guitar Competition (2016).
Philadelphia Classical Guitar Festival
Opening Concert
April 9, 2016 7:30pm
Trinity Center for Urban Life
22nd & Spruce Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Tickets: General $30; Student/Senior $20; Members $15. Premium seating & post-concert reception: $75 for one/$100 for two.
Full Day Festival
April 10, 2016 9:30am-6pm
Settlement Music School, Mary Louise Curtis Branch
416 Queen St, Philadelphia, PA
Full day festival pass: General $45; Members $40
Closing Concert (4pm): General $25; Senior/Student $15; Member $10
Student Recitals: $10
Antigoni Goni Masterclass (2pm): $15
Alec Holcomb Recital/Student Competition Finals/Professional Workshops:
Included with Any Other Individual Ticket

 

Darlingside in Philly4/9/16

I wish I knew about this show sooner. It’s sold out.
This is from the bands Bio:
Darlingside delivers a truly moving blend of subtlety, power, outstanding vocal quality and contemporary songwriting. The Boston based quartet features four distinct voices clustered around a single microphone; their tightly-arranged tunes drawing from the unexpected, including strains of bluegrass, classical, and even barbershop. Accompanied by an arsenal of classical strings, guitars, mandolin, and percussion, these four close friends swap instruments from song to song and offer a sound that defies standard genre classifications.

Darlingside
Johnny Brenda’s
1201 Frankford Ave
Philadelpha, PA 19125

Check out this video

Masterclass with Antigoni Goni

c647c8f7-a24c-4c91-bbaa-773b71ffeb55.jpgCALL FOR APPLICATIONS
April 10, 2016
Masterclass with Antigoni Goni
Submission Deadline EXTENDED: March 23, 2016
 
 
Don’t let your students miss the chance to perform in a master class with Antigoni Goni at the 2016 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Festival.
 
Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society, 2038 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Chaos Theory by David Cohen

david cohen guitar chaos theoryChaos Theory is my 2nd studio recording of original pieces. The compositions are purely me living  in my world of rhythm and melody. The music was composed between July 2014 and December 2015; each peice written for and on an Ovation classical guitar. The guitar used in the Chaos Theory recording is an Ovation classical cutaway, model 1773AX.

Signals by David Cohen from Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory is six stories. Each story is rooted an individual’s fight for health and security. In the piece that closes the recording, A long Memory of Kindness, my inspiration behind the piece came from a brief period of time with a person that lost the ability of movement from the neck down. Slowly minor movement was visible in one arm.  When it was time to move on in the continuum of care the person told me that the goal was to write a letter to say thank you. The person went on to say, “I have a long memory of kindness. When I can, I want to write everyone who has helped me to thank them. People have been so kind.”

A long Memory of Kindness was written to close out Chaos Theory presenting the most fundamental premise; kindness.
Click link for more information 

 

 

Live Classical Guitar Friday Night’s

I want to find places in the Philadelphia area that really support classical guitar. If you know of restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores or anyplace that have live classical guitar pass the info on.

I stumbled on this place a few weeks ago:
Bella Tori at the Mansion
Address: 321 South Bellevue Avenue
Langhorne, Pennsylvania 19047
Phone: (215) 702-9600
http://www.bellatori.com/

bob-solo-3        11705711_710824665716129_2584762049562896563_o

Friday night’s classical guitarist Robert Schulze plays from 5pm- 9pm. Visit Robert’s website:rtsguitar.com
It’s a great night out; Robert is an excellent guitarist and the food is really really good. Friday night you can BYOB. All the more enticing and well worth any travel time to get to Langhorne.

 

EMMA RUSH, solo guitar March 13, 2016

press_kit
Presented by the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society 
 
Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 3pm 
Settlement Music School, 416 Queen St (free parking)

Tickets available at the door 

General: $25; Student/Senior: $15; Member: $10

 

Over the past decade, Emma Rush has established herself as one of Canada’s preeminent classical guitarists. Known for her innovative programming and powerful stage presence, an event with Rush is one to remember. Her career has commanded world recognition with recent highlights including a tour of China starting with the Altamira Shanghai International Guitar Festival, appearances at the Festival de Guitarras Lagos de Moreno (Mexico), the Lonestar Guitar Festival(Texas), and a prestigious concert at the famed Internationales Gitarren Symposion, Iserlohn (Germany). She performs throughout North America with upcoming appearances in Philadelphia (PA), Louisville (KY), Buffalo (NY), and many Canadian dates as a soloist and chamber musician. As a soloist with orchestra, Rush will be performing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra and Symphony on the Bay in Burlington. 
 
Emma Rush was chosen for a coveted Debut Atlantic tour in 2016 -17 with concerts throughout the Maritime provinces. She has been selected as a 2016 Artist-in-Residence at the Fountain School of Performing Arts at Dalhousie University. 
 
Folklórica, Rush’s much-anticipated debut CD, was released in the fall of 2014. She is on faculty at Mohawk College and Redeemer University College. She completed her graduate studies at the Hochschule für Music in Detmold, Germany and holds a BMus from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia.
 
PROGRAM:
Candombe en mi                                             Máximo Diego Pujol
 
Junto al generalife                                           Joaquín Rodrigo En los trigales
 
Variations on an Anatolian Folksong           Carlo Domeniconi 
 
Jongo                                                                Paulo Bellinati 
 
-INTERMISSION- 
 
10 Etudes Simples                                           Leo Brouwer 
Canción de Cuna 
 
Garuda:Ballade for Guitar                               Oliver Hunt 
 
Suite del Recuerdo                                          José Luis Merlin
 

International Guitar Night to come to Philadelphia’s Crossroads Music

On Sunday, March 6 at 7:30 pm, International Guitar Night returns to Crossroads Music in West Philadelphia. This year, the lineup features gypsy-jazz and flamenco from Lulo Reinhardt, the British experimental player Mike Dawes, the versatile German guitarist Andre Krengel, and California’s Brian Gore, IGN’s founder. The program will take place at at 801 South 48th Street, in Philadelphia and the artists will also offer a master class at 3:30. Tickets ($10-30), audio samples, and more information are available online at http://crossroadsconcerts.org/?p=4870.

International Guitar Night, North America’s premier mobile guitar festival, has featured the best performing guitar composers from around the world since 1995. Each tour, IGN founder Brian Gore invites a new cast of guitar luminaries to join him for special evenings of solos, duets and quartets that highlight the virtuosity and diversity within the world of acoustic guitar. Since the beginning, audiences have cherished the friendly informal ambiance of the performances. Participants have relished the chance IGN affords to express reverence for one another, and to collaborate rather than compete with one another.
Biographies

Lulo Reinhardt, the gifted nephew of gypsy-jazz legend Django Reinhardt, began studying guitar with his father Bawo, also a famous musician, at the age of five. At twelve, he played in the Mike Reinhardt Sextet and later co-founded a group called “Django Reinhardt and the Heartbreakers” in tribute to his uncle. In 1991, he founded “I Gitanos” with his father and his cousin Dege and has also played with Toto and Marta Glenn and played at the music festival “Rock gegen Hass”(Rock against Hate) and at a concert in aid of the north African Sahouri in the city of Tinduf, Algeria. While rooted in his family’s traditions, his work as a composer and guitarist has also taken him to southern Spain in search of flamenco roots and to South America, exploring various musical styles of Latin Jazz.

For Andre Krengel, who was born in a small village outside Bonn, Germany, playing guitar is a journey; and music is a language that connects us to people without words. A versatile and virtuosic guitar player with a unique style, he began as a classial musician, but soon became inspired by other artists as well, especially the jazzy blues-rock of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits. Later, he discovered a passion for acoustic guitar and jazz music, which he studied at the conservatory of Arnhem in the Netherlands. Subsequent journeys took him to France and Spain, where he worked with gypsy-jazz and flamenco musicians, and to Miami, where he was inspired and influenced by the local Latin and Cuban music scene. Since returning to Germany, he has been a frequent collaborator with Lulo Reinhardt and has worked on a variety of projects in many genres.

Mike Dawes is hailed as one of the world’s finest young fingerstyle guitarists and performers. His dazzling yet subtle playing, layered multi-part compositions, and technical virtuosity – as well as his youthful energy, charisma and humor – have brought him acclaim as both a soloist and band member. He has recorded with and accompanied multiple Grammy-wining artists, appeared on film soundtracks and adverts, and achieved viral YouTube hits with views in the millions. Mike currently tours as Justin Hayward’s lead guitar player and has made studio recordings with artists as diverse as Gotye and Newton Faulkner.

San Francisco “guitar poet” and IGN organizer Brian Gore is gaining a reputation as one of the most interesting and influential performers of “the next generation” in finger style guitar. A musical romantic, his lyrical, understated compositions draw inspiration from myth and modern literature, integrating classical and percussive techniques that display what the Los Angeles Times calls “a characterful bounce and spaciousness all his own.”