Meet the Artists: Katherine & Robert Bender

I met the Bender Family at the 2011 Guitar Foundation of America where I gave a lesson to Kenneth, son of Robert and Katherine. Beyond the obvious talent Kenneth possessed, I found Robert to be very talented with the camera and a wonderful guy to talk to.

I visited and stayed with them in 2012 on a run of southern California concerts. Catherine joined me the following New Years for an excellent adventure of music, BBQ and friendship. The painting at right was done in 2012. I love the energy, vivid colors, and my Spock-like ears!! (Better to hear the timbres!). Hands, waves, love…what else. They also have two large puppies, who are always on hand for music on the guitar .

The husband and wife duo also do some beautiful ceramic work. As a thank you for teaching, I received a gift from Kenneth that hangs on my music wall. We have other works by them. As I get a pictures I will add them to this post.

Check out their work at Karob Studios, and visit when in Southern California!

¡Viva las Artistas!

Review: John. Cage. Guitar – Classical Guitar Magazine

John. Cage. Guitar.
Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar and prepared guitar) 
with Sharan Leventhal (violin) and Adam Levin (prepared guitar)
Stone Records

Ear-opening Cage on guitar

One scenario I yearn to witness is a quiz-master demolishing an other wise unassailable contestant by asking him to name a work by John Cage, other than 4’33”. Possible answers are numerous, but known only to those who’ve done their homework. What Cage apparently didn’t do was compose for guitar, leaving a gap that is definitively filled by this ear-opening release from American guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan.

Drawing on Cage’s catalog for piano and prepared piano, Larget-Caplan eases the listener into the proceedings with the hypnotic soundscape of A Room, the word “minimalist” being invoked for a second time in the performer’s notes, alongside a disclaimer that “Cage did not use the term.” Whatever the genre, the two-part textures have a transparency ideally suited to the guitar. This is enhanced by Larget-Caplan’s tidy and understated playing, the feeling of brightness and focus well-captured by engineer Steve Hunt. Likewise Three Easy Pieces, in which the tonal/modal language prompts Larget-Caplan to suggest the first two pieces “could easily be mistaken for 19th century guitar compositions.” Few are likely to confuse Cage with Carulli, but the comparison is not without merit.

As the album progresses, occasional sharp edges emerge, most notably in the deliciously noisy Bacchanale, arranged for two prepared guitars. However, anyone hoping this CD will perpetuate the false image of Cage as merely a purveyor of the impenetrable will leave empty-handed. —Paul Fowles

Classical Guitar Magazine, Spring 2019, P. 67

 

Review: John. Cage. Guitar. – THE ARTS FUSE

John Cage on guitar? Why not? Though the American maverick never wrote explicitly for the instrument, some of his early piano music was adaptable enough for guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan to arrange for his instrument. The results, out now John Cage: Guitar, are often enticing and plenty appealing.

Larget-Caplan’s program consists of seven Cage pieces, all of which originated in the 1930s and ‘40s, a couple of which are remarkably prescient. The opener, A Room, for instance, anticipates the Minimalist procedures of a later generation or two. And the prepared-guitar closer, Bacchanale, sounds a couple decades younger than it is, almost like a kind of high-brow anticipation of Jimi Hendrix.

In between come Cage’s Three Easy Pieces, which sound like just that: a set of short, contrapuntal exercises that exude not a little bit of charm, especially the central “Duo.” Chess Pieces and Dream are more substantial. The former is adapted from a composition that appears in a 1944 Cage painting while the latter, a ruminative essay, was originally conceived as a dance piece. In a Landscape is another affecting, resonant meditation.

Then there are Six Pieces, a set of radiant miniatures for violin and guitar, in which Larget-Caplan’s joined by violinist Sharon Leventhal. Cage’s writing here is highly specific – the violin part, for instance, indicates which string each note is supposed to be played on – but the music itself is anything but restrained, ranging from the quiet ecstasy of “Melody 1” to the jaunty syncopations of “Melody 3” and the subdued glow of “Melody 6.”

Larget-Caplan’s performances are excellent. Technically, he’s got everything under control, no matter how involved the arrangements get. What’s more, his playing brims with charisma and understanding: Cage can be a tough composer to really bring to life. Larget-Caplan (and Leventhal, in Six Pieces) manage the feat impressively.

Classical Music CD Reviews: ROCO’s “Visions Take Flight,” Nordic Affect’s “He(a)r,” and “John Cage: Guitar.”


 

Jonathan Blumhofer is a composer and violist who has been active in the greater Boston area since 2004. His music has received numerous awards and been performed by various ensembles, including the American Composers Orchestra, Kiev Philharmonic, Camerata Chicago, Xanthos Ensemble, and Juventas New Music Group. Since receiving his doctorate from Boston University in 2010, Jon has taught at Clark University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and online for the University of Phoenix, in addition to writing music criticism for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Taiwan 2018!

Exploring Videos:
Wow, Food, Squid

John. Cage. Guitar ? – Review

 

 

“To this writer’s knowledge, John Cage had never written any music for guitar. So, for Larget-Caplan to imagine this project, and write all of the arrangements, was quite daring. The capacity audience responded most favorably.”

Read the complete review: https://www.classical-scene.com/2018/12/03/john-cage-guitar/

“John Cage Arranged for Guitar” gave us cause to celebrate.

“Larget-Caplan gave honor to the music, blending the guitar with violin, as though this was the intention of Cage himself.”

‘The two-guitar arrangement of this composition is so well considered, it is hard to remember that this is not the original format! Both guitarists focused intently and clearly. An excellent arrangement, and even stronger performance, created universal excitement throughout the room.”

 

18 Musical Amazings for 2018!

18. Celebrated after many concerts and classes!

17. Classes and lectures at Temple University, Sacramento State, Tainan University (Taiwan), Bowdoin College, Berklee College of Music, Miko Academy (Taiwan), University of Massachusetts Boston

16. Premiered arrangements of Castelnouvo-Tedesco, J.S. Bach, Reynaldo Hahn, and John Cage.

15. Two performances in Madrid, Spain, and two performances for F13 Concerts in Mainz, Germany: Numbers 4 & 5!!

14. Performed with Radius Ensemble, South Coast Chamber Music Series, Music Street, In A Landscape, and Astoria Music Festival.

13. Multiple concert, publication, and CD reviews by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, Mu Phi Epsilon ‘Triangle’, This is Classical Guitar, and Classical Guitar Magazine.

12. Arranged music by John Cage, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Franz Schubert, and J.S. Bach.

11. Touring in Oregon and Washington with Hiroya Tsukamoto.

10. Spring West Coast Solo and Chamber Music Tour of 13 events in 15 days beginning in Southern California moving to the Bay Area and Sacramento and finishing in Oregon!

9. Collaborations with cellist Rafael Popper-Keizer, baritones Richard Zeller & Ian Pomerantz, violinists Sharan Leventhal & Danny Koo, pianist Dian Braun, guitarists Tim Pence and Adam Levin, flamenco dancer/singer La Conja.

8. All New Lullaby Concert ‘Night Songs’ at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas and Salem State University (Arts Residency).

7. Premieres of New Lullabies by Stephanie Ann Boyd, Koji Nakano, Milad Yousufi and  Roger Eon (#52-55).

6. 1st All-Bach Concert

5. John. Cage. Guitar. CD Release Concert!

4. Paris Debut

3. Asian debut in Taiwan!

2. Release of John. Cage. Guitar. on Stone Records!

1. BBQ with friends, coffee with colleagues, celebrations with family.

Wishing everyone many more good years of music, adventure, great food and heartfelt relationships.

NeuGuitars of Italy features Aaron

Neuguitars, a blog dedicated to contemporary guitar music (classical, jazz and experimental) featured Aaron’s most recent work in a December triple treat:

1 – Album Review – John. Cage. Guitar.
“An excellent introduction to those who want to approach [Cage] for the first time. Highly recommended.”

2 – Interview – “I am a product of consistent work, listening, and collaboration. I have forged my path.”

3 – Video Playlist – John Cage & Elliott Carter

Thanks to Andrea Aguzzi for including me on his wonderful site, and spreading the good sounds far and wide.

 

CD REVIEW: John. Cage. Guitar. – MusicWeb International

STONE RECORDS 50601927 80833

Stone who have established a name for their song series including embracing long-needed projects, such as the output of C.W. Orr, here branch out in unaccustomed directions.

A Room is an insistent little minimalistic mood piece. The Three Easy Pieces are amicable diminutives. There is no obstacle to cool enjoyment and any fears about Cage and the avant-garde are misplaced. The Chess Pieces and Dream throw out plenty of variety of atmosphere and, within the confines of a cool shadowed world, exploit the confiding and orating of Aaron Larget-Caplan’s guitar. Six Melodies for violin and guitar are a shade, but often only a shade, more complicated. After six tracks of Cage, the tunefully atmospheric music-smith, one’s mind and ears are ready for the Melodies‘ gloriously creaking match and mismatch carried by violin and guitar. These Melodies, mercurially varied and each radiating the feel of a journey, occasionally carry the suggestion of baroque Iberian courts. In a Landscape is an interplay of shadows, dripping archways and rilled watercourses. The music here is about patiently moving water rather than torrents; it would make a tasty companion to Rodrigo’s Aranjuez concerto. Bacchanale revels in discontinuity including deadened wood-splintering resonances. Somewhere in the mix is the sound of the koto for which Cage’s similarly inclined friend, Henry Cowell, wrote a concerto premiered by Eto Kimei and conducted by Stokowski in 1964.

The notes, which address the individual works, Cage from various perspectives and artist profiles are by Aaron Larget-Caplan.

This disc, quite properly, knows no fear in its blend of delicacy, complexity and amiable simplicity.

Rob Barnett

John CAGE (1912-1992)
A Room (1943) [2:35]
Three Easy Pieces (1933) [4:06]
Chess Pieces (1944) [7:52]
Dream (1948) [7:06]
Six Melodies for violin and guitar (1944) [12:34]
In a Landscape (1948) [8:36]
Bacchanale for two prepared guitars (1940) [10:38]
Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar, prepared guitar)
Sharan Leventhal (violin)
Adam Levin (prepared guitar)
rec. 2017/18, Massachusetts, Boston
STONE RECORDS 50601927 80833 [54:03]

CAGE Guitar – STONE RECORDS 50601927 80833 [RB] Classical Music Reviews: November 2018 – MusicWeb-International

*Read it on MusicWeb International:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2018/Nov/Cage_guitar_5060192780833.htm?fbclid=IwAR3INH1ZqutUo5FRUQDyK3IkNdlS3PGGWWOXBPUlALcubCdZea_FhNcm6rg

John Cage Interview – BNN News

Aaron went to BNN News to speak with news anchor Chris Lovett for an interview on Aaron’s latest release: John. Cage. Guitar. 

Watch as Chris and Aaron discuss the Apostle of provocation.

Prepared Guitars – Bacchanale by Cage

Bacchanale by John Cage

Prepared Piano intoPrepared Guitars

Bacchanale was Cage’s first piece for prepared piano. Finding that the stage was too small for both  dancer/choreographer Syvilla Fort and the needed battery of percussion, so Cage decided to fix weather stripping, bolts, screws and nuts into the strings of the piano to create a percussion ensemble, Fort, a colleague of Cage’s at Cornish College, asked for a composition of African inspiration. Only twelve notes are used in the piece, all of which are prepared. In the piano version preparation is predominantly weatherstripping and the performer is instructed to “determine position and size of mutes by experiment.

*click below to listen to Aaron & Adam Levin perform Bacchanale – track 14

Translating the preparations to the guitar posed a couple of challenges and I asked myself a few questions:

Q: Why prepare the strings at all, since the guitar will already not sound like a prepared piano?

A: I actually played the work completely as written with no preparations for a while. It fits on two guitars (guitar 1 = right hand, guitar 2 = left hand), without much adjustment, so I knew it was possible.

I was also not a big fan of prepared guitar with the works I had heard and seen in the past. At times I felt such works were more of an excuse to the performer to be seen as dramatic and serious. But, as I listened to more and more recordings of prepared piano and experienced the vast changes of timbre and percussion vs. piano sounds, I was inspired to experiment on my own.

Q: Isn’t guitar already considered a percussion instrument. 

A: Yes and no. A flamenco guitar has a much lower action (strings closer to the fret board), which allows the strings to hit the frets when played apoyando (reststroke) or rasgueado (flamenco strumming). In such case, yes, it is both melody and percussion.

A classical guitar has a higher action (strings further from the fret board), which allows for more timbre choice, louder individual notes, more resonance, and depending on the player, cleaner tone.

These are broad generalizations, and do not say one is better than the other. Each guitar represents a very different style of music and artists are aware of it.

As a side note, a recording engineer I work with originally didn’t want to record guitar, because to him it just sounds like a box with strings. I convinced him otherwise.

Q: What are some of the challenges of preparing the guitar? 

A: 1 – Gravity. If I clip something on to the strings and hold the guitar in the normal playing position those clips can easily flip towards the ground touching ‘higher’ strings or the wood of the soundboard. I also had to find a way to hold the substitute for weatherstripping in the strings without letting it fall out when being played.

2 – Only one string. Each note of the piano has three strings, so one can add a screw between two strings and not touch any other pitch.

3 – No slurs. Yes, if you do a left hand slur (hammer or pull off) the preparations don’t really sound.

4 – Nylon strings and no cast iron frame. Since the strings use much less tension weatherstripping will completely mute the string. I had to find a substitute that gave a percussive sound and a bit of pitch.

Q: When and where can I get the score?

A: Edition Peters will be publishing my arrangement in early 2019.

Piano Preparations

Guitar Preparations

Purchase the album on Amazon: http://a.co/d/1u6L6kk