Guitar Philadelphia

Winners of the 2015 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Competitions

The Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society (PCGS) proudly announces the winners of the 2015 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Competitions
The 2015 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Competition included High School and Adult Divisions and included competitors from around the world.  Awards included the $1000 Peter Segal prize for the first place Adult Division winner and additional prizes and performance opportunities for winners in separate Adult and High School divisions. For the 2015 competition students submitted their applications along with recordings of required repertoire. Finalists were selected after performing in the semifinal round on April 11, 2015.  The finalists then performed on April 12, 2015 and were judged by the prestigious judges William Kanengiser (Los Angeles Guitar Quartet), Glen Caluda (Shenandoah University), Elizabeth Caluda (Shenandoah University), Marisol Rampolla (Community College of Philadelphia), Manena Contreras (Venezuela).
Adult Division Winners

PCGS Competition 2015 - Adult Division Winners
First:
Alec Holcomb
Currently a student at Curtis Institute of Music, Mr. Holcomb studies with Grammy Award winning guitarists Jason Vieaux and David Starobin.  Mr. Holcomb is a native of Nashville, TN.
Second:
Xiaobo Pu
Currently a student at Curtis Institute of Music, Mr. Pu studies with Grammy Award winning guitarists Jason Vieaux and David Starobin.  Mr. Pu is a native of Beijing, China.
Third:
Jess Freedman
A professor of guitar at Rider University Mr. Freedman received his bachelor’s degree at Guilford College under guitarist Kami Rowan and his master’s degree at the University of Southern California under guitarists William Kanengiser and Scott Tennant. Mr. Freedman is a native of Brooklyn, NY.
Fourth:
Carlos Bedoya
Currently a student at Rowan University, Mr. Bedoya studies with guitarist Kathleen Mayes.  Mr. Bedoya is a native of Egg Harbor Township, NJ.
High School Division Winners
 PCGS Competition 2015 - High School Division Winners
First:
Benjamin Lauring
Currently a student at Tenafly High School, Mr. Lauring studies with guitarist Seth Himmelhoch.
Second:
Daniel Choe
Currently a student at Tenafly High School, Mr. Choe studies with guitarist Seth Himmelhoch.
Third:
Nathan Constans
Currently a student at Haddon Township High School, Mr. Constans studies with guitarist Kathleen Mayes.
Fourth:
Matthew Tantoy

In Memory of Duane Large Classical Guitar

Philadelphia Guitar News is saddened to learn of the passing of one of Philadelphia’s fine classical guitarists Duane Large. In addition to the guitar Duane played many styles of music on the mandolin, lute, piano and percussion instruments. Duane received his Bachelor’s degree in guitar performance (summa cum laude) under the tutelage of  Allen Krantz as well as two master’s degrees in both guitar performance and musicology from Temple University. Learn more about Duane Large by visiting his website: www.duanelarge.com. Our condolences to his wife and family. A memorial concert is planned for family, friends and fans information: https://www.facebook.com/events/640300262744501/

 

Harrisburg gig, piping at Niagara Falls and the Philly Hot list

Saturday July 26, 2014 I will be blasting tunes flamenco style, pipa style and baggpipe style in  classical David Cohen Fashion at Midtown Scholar 1302 North Third Street in Harrisburg, PA. I will play from 7:30pm-9:30pm. Admission is free but if you buy my CD DAVID COHEN: GUITAR that will be available at the gig as well as on line it would be really cool. All the compositions are original. The music Saturday night will be mostly original with a few traditional pieces mixed in.

The Midtown Scholar was a great discovery one day while in Harrisburg. It’s says a lot about a venues commitment to the arts and community when they bring in artists who do not follow the standard music formats that generate the income that venues need to survive. I have found such venues in New Jersey, New York and now Harrisburg. I want to add Philadelphia to the list.

On July 13, 2014 on a trip to Niagara Falls I took my pipes to play at the base of falls on the New York side.

Lastly, I have been nominated in the Philly Hot List Contest in the category for best wedding entertainment. I am up against many big bands. Please help out and cast a vote for me LINK TO VOTE. Thank you!

Niagara Photos

 

John Bogan of Point Pleasant, New Jersey 1st place winner in GFA’s 2014 competition

john bogan gfa

Congratulations to John Bogan of Point Pleasant, New Jersey in winning 1st place in this years Guitar Foundation of America International Youth Competition Senior Division ages 15-18. John’s placement in first position earns him $1,000 lots of guitar strings and a full paid scholarship and airfare to Montana’s Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival.

John has studied with David Cohen (this sites creator) and Keith Calmes of Wall, NJ. John is currently a student at the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of David Starobin. In 2011 John entered his first competition in the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society’s Annual Guitar Competition taking home 1st place  in his division. In the 2014 Guitar Foundation of America Competition John preformed  Prelude #2 -Villa-Lobos  and Think Fast and Open Up Your Ears- Bryan Johanson for the 1st round and the 2nd round performed Sevilla, Albeniz, Open Up Your Ears-Johanson and Minuetto from Opus 31- Matiegka.

Follow John Bogan

Face Book https://www.facebook.com/johnboganguitar

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgKkz-w8dFavNzzfnN4ql-Q

 

Meany/Simmons Flute & Classical Guitar Duo Sunday May 18th

Meany/Simmons Flute and Classical Guitar Duo in recital           meany simons

Sunday May 18th – 4 pm
Christ Church Ithan –
536 Conestoga Road
Villanova, PA
www.christchurchithan.org
or 610 688-1110

The duo will perform works by Desportes, Ibert, Pujol, Faure, Krouse and Merlin. Free Will Offering.

MICHAEL SIMMONS studied with John Leonard and Peter Segal and has performed in master classes for Benjamin Verdery, Sharon Isbin, Eliot Fisk, Carlos Barbosa-Lima and Oscar Ghiglia. He was the winner of the 1993 Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society Competition and a finalist at the 1995 National Guitar Summer Workshop Concerto Competition. As a member of the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Trio, Mr. Simmons has performed nationally and internationally, including the 1999 Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Puerto Rico and for the Third Encuentro Internacional de Guitarra Panamá 1999. Mr. Simmons is an active solo and ensemble guitarist and performs regularly with flautist Thomas Meany and vocalist Lizette Casals.

Thomas Meany is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, where he studied with Adeline Tomasone and Loren Lind, later studying with Harold Bennett in New York City. Tom is currently a graduate assistant and a candidate for a Masters of Music from Rowan University He has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, Summertrio Chamber Music Festival and the Puccini Opera Orchestra in Italy. Thomas has played master classes with leading flautist such as the late Murray Panitz, Chicago Symphony’s Donald Peck, Samuel Baron at New York University and Toshio Takahashi at the East Tennessee Suzuki Flute Institute. In addition to performing regularly with guitarist Michael Simmons and the Walnut Street Chamber Trio Mr.Meany has performed in recital for the Matinee Music Club, the Philadelphia Cultural Council, the Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia, the Department of Recreation and Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour (PennPAT). He has played flute for the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Orchestra Society, the Haddonfield Symphony, and the Lansdowne Symphony. Mr. Meany is a Certified Suzuki Instructor and has recently received three consecutive scholarships from the Suzuki Association of the Americas. He teaches for Instrumental Music Programs and the Settlement Music School. He is the current Vice-President of the Flute Society of Greater Philadelphia. Tom playes a Brannen-Cooper Flute.

Follow the Meany/Simmons Duo on Face Book.

Sanders Bohlke Prince Music Theater May 10, 2014

Saturday May 10, 2014
Prince Music Theater
1412 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA,
Lineup:
Justin Nozuka, Sanders Bohlke & Megan Bonnell
Tickets: https://princemusictheater.ticketphiladelphia.org/Cart/Cart.aspx?perf_no=22290#PageSeating

Artist website: www.sandersbohlke.com

Sanders releases his new album Ghost Boy on February 19, 2013 via Communicating Vessels, one of the new crop of cutting edge Southern record labels, based out of Birmingham, Alabama with Jeffrey Cain (of Remy Zero) at the helm.

Lead single “Ghost Boy” is arguably Bohlke’s most infectious melody and fully realized flirtation with pop music, and could easily hold its own with the biggest indie singles of the last few years. On this new record, Sanders continues his evolution as a songwriter with lush soundscapes that layer brooding and billowy textures against his soulful voice. Recorded with Jeffrey Cain, they’ve perfected a sonic world that deftly highlights both the beauty and the dark romance of Bohlke’s songs.

 

David Cohen: Since the last time we spoke your CD  Ghost Boy has taken off and you’re on the road a lot.

Sanders Bohlke: Yes, it’s a little later than when I wanted. Its great I’ll take it.

David: It shows that Ghost Boy it’s a timeless recording.

Sanders: That’s a good point! I just started this wing of the tour. It’s shorter than last years. It should be fun.

David: It’s shorter but there’s more distance between gigs.  Are they driven or flown?

Sanders: A significant portion is driven but I will be flying to the Toronto show on May 6th.

David: I’ll ask you this now and then again in a few years when you’re filling big halls. Can you sense changes in yourself from the success you’re having?

Sanders: No, I don’t ever consider myself like that. I think its great that I’m getting more traction but hey, I’m just a dude and I play my guitar. I have a lot people around me to make sure I don’t think about it other than what it is. The thing is I’m not a headliner, I am very grateful when people come. I’m playing to win an audience.

David: With your new popularity do you feel a pressure in your creativity to satisfy your fans?

Sanders: I always feel that. I always feel I have fans that like me for a reason. I also think they understand I need to grow as an artist. There have been bands I like where I don’t like their new stuff. For instance Arcade Fire, I love them but don’t like the new CD but I still like them and I can’t wait for their next stuff. I don’t hold it against them and there are a lot of people who love the new stuff.   I hope people with will feel that way about my music too. I took that risk with Ghost boy. If you listen to my fist CD you’ll think it’s two different artists. For the next one it’s going to be different. I’m going to drift a little bit into another direction. I hope they understand that’s where I have to go that’s where it’s going to go. Beck is one of the most famous artists out there, Radiohead chose to do electronics, and people went with them. I’m not scared about creative decisions.

David: Does that mean it won’t be seven years between releases? Is there something in the horizon?

Sanders: It won’t be seven years I can guarantee that. I’m currently working on the next one. It won’t even be two years. The process of it coming out is out of my hands at some point.

David: Will Jeffrey Cain produce the next recording?

Sanders: Kind of. Some of it is unknown right now. I’m using a lot of different people. I’m recording a lot on my own. I’m recording a lot at my house. Some of it might stay some of it might get cut.

David: What new gear are you using?

Sanders: I just got the Ableton program; I’m diving into that.

David: Is the electronic nature of Ableton an indication of where your music is going?

Sanders: Maybe a little bit. I’m not making an electronic album. I’m getting more experimental with instrumentation. It’s not going to change who I am or the music I make. It helps me make beats a little different. I don’t think I’m going to lose anybody.

David: Any new instruments?

Sanders: No new gear as far as guitars go. I’m still rocking the Peavey. We’ve had problems with it on this tour, my manager suggest getting a new one. I can’t get rid of my baby. I love that guitar!

I haven’t been playing a lot of guitar. I’m not giving it up but in this project I was only getting to a certain places on the guitar so I am playing a lot of drum machine to incorporate different soundscapes into the palate. I’ve been playing a lot of piano, synth, beat making. I’m not going to abandon guitar. I have gotten a Boss VE-20 vocal processor, it’s cool it opens a lot of things and changes your head space a little bit when you’re writing. In concert it opens a lot of harmonies.

David: Do you have practice time?

Sanders: I don’t practice like I want to would like to. I would like to be better at guitar, drums and piano. The time I spent writing is the time I spend playing. That’s been my only regret in my career. Nobody will hire me for anything on sessions. The way I come up with things is a very elementary style of playing. I’m more inventive on guitar my main instrument but I’m not a great guitar player by any means. In some ways it’s good not being able to play really well. It’s more creatively challenging to play this way because it’s a more creative to play. In some ways I can’t tell if I’m lazy in not wanting to know how to play because I can keep that child-like approach to the instrument. With Ableton and Pro Tools I will take the time to learn the programs. Even with the drum machine I take the time to learn.

David: How will your new material translate to stage?

Sanders: I don’t know I might have to hire a band. With the looping I do I can handle certain things, I might not be able to go out and solo I might have to take one or two people. I don’t like thinking about that. I want to get it down first and then think about it.

David: Your last show in Philadelphia was at the Union Transfer opening for Rachel Yamagata. On May 10th you will be at the Prince Music Theatre opening for Justin Nozuka, will you incorporate any of your new material into this show?

Sanders: I will probably play the same set.

David: That is fine by me. When we spoke the first time I asked about how the music on Ghost Boy transferred on stage as a solo act. It was seeing you live that really solidified how great the music is and your talent.

Does your record company give you total artistic freedom?

Sanders: Yes they do! It is nice knowing that they have total confidence in what I do.

 

 

Sanders Bohlke 2013 interview with David Cohen

Rescheduled Philadelphia Guitar Artists Concert & Holiday Party

 

 

Philadelphia Guitar Artists Concert & Holiday Party

Sunday, May 11 at 3:00pm
Settlement Music School, 416 Queen St, Philadelphia, PA
Tickets: General Admission $25; Students/Seniors $15; Kids 12 & under/PCGS Members FREE

 

 

Professional Members of the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society and local artists present a panoply of styles and talents. Performers will include Joseph Mayes, Tom Amoriello & Eileen Cooper, Ross Mann, Behdad Moghadassi, Keith Calmes, James Hontz, and Brendan Evans.

This concert has been rescheduled after being cancelled due to inclement weather in December.

The Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society founded in 1968 is a community of members both supporters and musicians of all ages and accomplishments dedicated to the advancement of the art of the classical guitar. Through encouraging classical guitar activities throughout the Delaware Valley the PCGS present concerts, throughout the year along with informal Guitar Salons and a Classical Guitar Orchestra, providing members of all levels performance opportunities.  

World Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day Concert: David Cohen Guitar

benefiting
FoxChase2c300dpiCMYK

Thursday May 8th 2014
7:30 PM 45 minute set
Stageit.com
https://www.stageit.com/david_cohen/ovarian_cancer_awareness_concert/34775
$5.00 donation -Reserve an online seat 

 

In conjunction with World Ovarian Cancer Awareness Day Classical & Flamenco Guitarist David Cohen of Philadelphia will play a 45-minute set raising funds for The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and the Friends of Fox Chase Cancer Center.

In 2011 David lost his wife Tanya to ovarian cancer after a two-year battle. Since the loss of his wife David has dedicated himself to ovarian cancer awareness and advocacy for patient care. David works with both Fox Chase Cancer Center and The Hospital Association of Pennsylvania in developing their Patient and Family Centered Care practices.

The concert will be available through the online in real-time concert venue Stageit.com. Admission is by donation in kind. All of the money raised will be donated to both organizations except for the small broadcasting fee.  The Philadelphia OrchestraBalletX and Whole Foods have generously donated items that will be available during the concert that will help raise funds.

In support of this event David will have technical assistance running the program from Local Arts Live in Philadelphia. The program will be broadcast from his dining room. The Friends of Fox Chase Cancer Center is a group of staff members that volunteer their time to assist with he needs of patients by purchasing items that patients may need to help keep their quality of life while hospitalized. They also assist in the education of the needs of cancer patients.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is the foremost advocacy organization for women with ovarian cancer. They represent tens of thousands of women with ovarian cancer in the United States.

David Cohen is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, educator, and composer of music for the classical & flamenco guitar, Chinese pipa musician and bagpipe played in Philadelphia. David’s teaching studios are located in both Philadelphia and Ocean Grove, NJ. David performs in concert, clubs and private performances along the East Coast.

 

David Cohen Live Alphabet Lounge NYC Saturday April 12, 2014

I love that there are venues outside of the traditional places that bring in classically based music into their mix of performers. I would like to find those places in Philadelphia as well. Saturday April 12, 2014 at 7pm I will play my second gig at the Alphabet Lounge located at 104 Ave C in New York. Cover charge is $10 pay in advance and save $2 off cover  . Offer ends Friday April 11.

Allen Krantz Classical Guitarist Interview w/ David Cohen

Originally published 1/13

Allen Krantz
Sunday January13, 3013
Settlement Music School 3pm
www.phillyguitar.org

ALLEN KRANTZ, a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory and Stanford University, has received acclaim as a composer, solo guitarist, and chamber musician. His performances throughout the United States have included appearances at Carnegie Hall, Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Phillips Collection in Washington, with his diverse programs often featuring original compositions.

Recent premieres have included “Three Pieces for Chamber Orchestra”; “Passacaglia” for trombone, guitar and piano, premiered by Joseph Alessi of the New York Philharmonic; and “American Document” commissioned by the Martha Graham Dance Company and premiered at the Joyce Theater in NY. Other recent pieces are “Sacred Places” for solo guitar; “A Musical Walk”, a children’s piece commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra; a symphony entitled “In the Air”, and “Under One Roof”, a trio for trumpet violin and piano in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“An American Town” for string orchestra, commissioned by the Village Bach Festival in Michigan was also presented at the Moscow Autumn festival and in Australia. Jason Vieaux performed Krantz’s guitar concerto, “Innocence and Experience”, at the Darwin International Guitar Festival in Australia and with Orchestra 2001 in Philadelphia. “anyone lived in a pretty how town”, commissioned by Gretna Music, has been performed by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit in Saratoga and Philadelphia. Krantz’s arrangement of Copland’s Appalachian Spring sketches were presented at the Library of Congress with the Martha Graham Company.

Allen Krantz is composer in residence for the Philadelphia based chamber ensemble, 1807 & Friends, which has premiered many of his works. Allen Krantz has received support from the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance among others.

Krantz heads the guitar program of The New School Institute at Temple University. He also gives occasional courses on music history and is a lecturer for the Philadelphia Orchestra. He is a core member of the Dolce Suono Ensemble, and performs in “Duo Paganini” and the “Florian Trio” with violinist Nancy Bean and cellist Lloyd Smith. Krantz’s compositions are published by the Theodore Presser Co. and Falls House Press His solo and chamber music arrangements for the guitar are published by International Music. Allen Krantz’s recordings for the DTR label include “Summer Music” , “The Romantic Guitar”, and “The Philadelphia Connection”. He has also recorded for Albany and Crystal Records labels.

Part1
David Cohen: I remember hearing your name in Philadelphia as a classical guitarist in my early days of studying the instrument. Are you originally from Philly?

Allen Krantz: I am from Connecticut and came to Philadelphia in1979.

David: When did you pick up guitar?

Allen: I played violin and piano when I was younger but it was in my teen years that I picked up the guitar. It was mostly blues, folk and jazz. I went through the whole progression. I started to get serious about classical guitar in my first year of college.

David: When you went to college that’s when you picked up classical guitar?

Allen: That’s when I officially took my first classical guitar lesson after trying to teach myself a little bit. There was very nice teacher at Washington University where I went so it was in my freshman year that I started doing it.

David: Did you enter school for composition?

Allen No, I went to Washington University promising my parents that I would get a basic liberal arts education. After one year I changed my major to music. After my second year even my teacher suggested I go to a conservatory, he felt I had out grown him. Washington University was a very interesting place. But he felt I had out grown him and it was very good of him to suggest I go to a conservatory. Then I went to San Francisco Conservatory where I was a guitar major. When I was there I got very interested in renaissance and baroque music. It was a hot bed of activity at Berkeley and Stanford. A lot of my best teachers at the conservatory were graduate students who came up from Stanford. So I got this idea that that’s were I should go so I went there to graduate school at Stanford and studied early music performance and received my Masters there. It’s funny at the at that point everybody urged me that the best guitar programs were in California.

David: That has changes a lot.

Allen: Of course, Julliard has a guitar program Curtis was the last and now has one. In those days there were still other programs – Mannes College had one for instance. At that time Christopher Parkening and Michael Lorimer were the two best know guitarists in America and I went to San Francisco to specifically study with Lorimer.

David: What about Parkening?

Allen: Well, he is a friend of mine. I was there when Parkening was becoming famous. I think his recordings were some of the most beautiful ever made on the guitar. He told me he played differently on recording than he played in concert. He understood how recording worked which Segovia never did. He played to himself in the studio, which Segovia never did. Segovia played the same way in concert and in the studio. The recordings of the 1970’s are gorgeous. The sheer passion of his playing and the colors that he gets has been rarely done so beautifully. I got to be friends with him and spent a lot of time hanging out with him and learned a lot just sitting next to him and listening to him play or he would listen to me and he would give me advice about colors. David: We’re talking days when people were selling out the big halls. Allen: Well you know the guitar was like tennis in the 1970’s. Classical guitar had a growth spurt. Up until then it was Segovia and a handful of other people. There were a lot of people of my age who grew up with the guitar and then naturally followed to classical guitar – in my case especially since I had a classical background. So it was almost a fad in the 1970’s

David: Do you think the popularity has diminished?

Allen: No, I think it’s taken its rightful place in the great scheme of things. I think it’s continued to grow. Yesterday I was adjudicating the Astral auditions. They had four guitarists audition and they were all outstanding. The level of guitar playing continues to grow as it does in other instruments in terms of technique prowess I think the guitar is much more established as part of the musical landscape.

Part 2

David: I read an interview with John Williams where in the course of the interview said that classical guitarists are notorious for being bad sight-readers. What do you see as issues guitarists have to address?

Allen: I’m a very good sight-reader only because I made a point of it. I do think that the guitar is a hard instrument to sight read on. It’s harder than most instruments because we’re playing polyphonic music and also because it’s not laid out in the logical way like the piano is laid out. I do encourage my students to spend a little time every day practicing sight-reading.

David: Other obstacles?

Allen: Well, there are a couple fundamental obstacles that are a natural part of the guitar. Number one- the average guitarist spends too much time playing by themselves and playing solo music and they can develop indulgent bad musical habits, if they played more chamber music that would be corrected. They wouldn’t be able to get away with it. That is one tendency I think is changing. I’ve always considered that one function of mine-to write guitar chamber music, which I’ve written quite a bit of. I think it’s healthy for the guitar that we don’t sit in the corner and play by ourselves-as much as I like solo guitar music. We also participate as chamber music players and we have a surprisingly rich heritage of chamber music if we look for it. What goes along with that is most guitarists play to softly. Go play with a violin and see what happens. I think guitar makers who are building louder guitars are addressing some of that. I think the average guitarist plays too much to themselves and they need to over come those two things.

David: Do you have a specific piece that you wrote that is your favorite?

Allen: It’s hard to be objective they’re your children. I think one that I feel best about is a trio that I wrote for guitar, violin and cello. I’m very happy in fact and my desire is to have other people play them. There is an up and coming guitarist named Adam Levin who lives in Boston, he is playing it a number of times this year around the country in different venues. He’s playing it in Chicago and I’m going out there as the guest composer on this chamber music series he is part of. I like that piece a lot, when he heard it he it he got very excited about it. That’s one piece I feel good about. I feel good about my Guitar Concerto that Jason Vieaux has played a number of times. It’s for guitar and chamber orchestra.

David: Does being a classical guitarist give you a different perspective?

Allen: Yes, Bruckner is an example of somebody who was a great orchestral composer and you can really tell he approached the orchestra differently because his instrument was the organ. His orchestral music really has that imprint of his organ background. I’d like to think my guitar background gives me a little different way to think of things.

David: Is the guitar a hard instrument to write for?

Allen: Yes, I know it is. I think the guitar is the hardest instrument to write for. It has so many idiosyncrasies that make it difficult to anticipate unless you play it yourself. So I think the best advice is what Segovia use to do. He’d have composers listen to a few pieces and get a sense of the texture and basically say just write, don’t inhibit yourself and I’ll help you correct the details. I think composers who don’t play the guitar should take an approach like that. To make the guitar sound natural is really tough. I’ve worked a lot with composers, as long as they have basic idea of the right sound and texture and try not to make it sound like a grand piano. Usually you work with them and hold theirs hands a little bit and show them some options of what they want to do. And then there are the composers who write successfully for the guitar in a limited way because they treat it like a violin. So it is really hard to write for the guitar especially solo guitar music without playing it. To me the most impressive example of that is the Britten Nocturnal at least in the standard repertoire. A lot of the best pieces have been written with a guitarist on the scene working with the composer.

David: Was your piece Small Symphony for Saxophone and Electric Guitar written with a specific electric guitar in mind?

Allen: I wanted it to have a bridge between a classical symphony but with the expressivity of a blues guitar. I guess I was thinking of your typical blues guitar can play that like a Stratocaster. Theres a lot of places in that also where you play it with finger style. In a sense the way Jimi Hendrix would play Little Wing, beautiful quasi-acoustic sounding. I wanted to treat the guitar in that way. I’d love to write a concerto for electric guitar and orchestra. That’s in the back of my mind.

David: Do you have an electric guitar?

Allen: It’s actually a Stratocaster copy. It’s a Casio that I bought when I use to do commercial music. It’s a Midi guitar and it actually functions quite nicely as a Strat.

David: What kind of commercial music did you write?

Allen: I went through a stage in the late 1980’s early 1990’s where I was writing TV and radio commercials.

David: Was it a stage or necessity?

Allen: It was a stage. If it were out of necessity I would still be doing it. What happed was I was getting restless and I had an opportunity to write at a fairly high level. My first job was an American Express commercial. That’s what jump-started me as a composer. Getting to write commercials and film scores.

David: What else have I bought as a result of your music?

Allen: Well it was American Express and Molson Ale that were the big radio campaigns. I did it for maybe eight to ten years. It justified composing as a viable profession. The funny thing was that once I stared doing it I realized that how much I wanted to do it but was afraid of it but was now getting paid and it justified it. And it was doing film where I was able to be myself and then I got some opportunities to write chamber music and I realized this is what I really want to be doing. Making a living as a classical composer is pretty difficult. Of course by the time I got there I cared less about the difficulty because it’s what I wanted to do.

David: Do consider yourself a guitarist/composer or a composer/guitarist?

Allen: (Laughter) It depends on what day you ask me that question. It’s true, that’s the challenge of my life. I love both and find it very difficult to do both at the same time. That’s what my challenge is trying to plan my day well enough or plan my schedule well enough because I find when I’m composing especially if I have a commission that has a dead line to it, it takes over. I love the fact that it takes over and it’s difficult to practice with the intensity for a concert and vice –a-versa. I have a juggling act. It’s not hard to pick up the guitar when I’m out of practice but it’s hard to pick up composing when I’m out of practice. That’s something I’d like to try and improve in my life. Which is just that I don’t get really intensely into composing mode and then drop it and lose that momentum. I find it painful to get started again. I think I’ll compose better if I keep those gears going.

David: Will we ever see you perform a program of just your music?
Allen: I would never say never maybe that would be a nice thing at some point. I’d feel better If somebody else wanted to do it.
David: That’s the composer in you.
Allen: Yes it is! I really find it hard playing my own pieces. My guitar pieces are pretty difficult. I have to just be one of the musicians and I don’t mind playing one or two pieces but a whole program would kill me.
David: Emotionally or technically?
Allen: Emotionally! It is an interesting thought I shouldn’t rule it out. It isn’t something I’ve worried about but you know in a way it would be a pretty cool thing now that you’ve raised the question. I think I’ve written enough guitar chamber music. I would put the electric guitar piece on there, woodwinds and strings. There would be a good variety and a make a nice program.

David: What kind of guitar do you use?

Allen: I’m playing on a Delarue which I bought from Bob Page at the Classical Guitar Store. He came over to my house one day and I was not in the market for a guitar. He wanted me to see this for my Temple students and then I played it and it was like WOW!

David: What kind of strings do you use?
Allen: Hannabach.
David: Can you tell me about your program on Sunday?
Allen: I’m playing the Sarabande from the Bach Cello Suite it’s like a prayer to start the concert with. Then I am playing five fantasies from de Milano who I have really begun to appreciate in the past few year’s. Why in fact he is so important I’m constantly being amazed at how beautiful, deep and sophisticated his music is. I understand why he was called “El Davino” in the 16th century. In the program it lists that I am paying four but I’ve added one. And then a great Sonata by Wencelas Matiegka who is also a recent discovery in the past six years. I’ve now played through all eleven of his sonatas and he clearly has the largest body and most important body of large form guitar music from the early 19th century. To find somebody in the era of Beethoven and Schubert who was comfortable with sophisticated large sonata form was exciting to me so I’m playing the Bmi Sonata.
In the second half of program is my transcription of Spanish Dance no. 11 by Granados. That’s not played as a solo guitar piece usually and I’am finishing with Sephardic Life by Michael White. It was written for Peter Segal who founded the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society. It’s beautiful and that’s an example of Michael writing it with Peter’s participation.

Congratulation to Allen and his wife Susan who were married last week.