Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Recent Fan Letters!

On occasion I get notes from fans following concerts or after they hear a CD or a podcast. Happily, this is occurring more and more!

Here are a few recents:

1 – “A note to say how much I enjoyed your concert. It is one thing to see an accomplished musician play his instrument; it’s quite another to see and listen to a brilliant musician who is at one with the guitar. Truly, as I sat there, I felt the connection between you and your guitar – they were one. This doesn’t happen often, so I’m glad I saw you perform. At times, the guitar sounded as a harpsichord; at others, like a violin. That is a testament to the musician.” – Jan., Oregon

2 – “Your CD. Wow! You have wonderfully braved the criticism of the fuddy-duddy classical ineffectuals. The choices and playing have opened your music to a much wider audience. I’m sharing the experience with friends and family, we are all on board. Another thing I really appreciate about the CD, you are willing to follow the lead of the last half of the 20th century and move away from strictly tonal music. Please keep it up.” – David C., Oregon

3 – Aaron, I recently listened to your interview with Bret Williams and videos at Savage Classical — both were excellent!! Thank you for continuing to push the guitar forward!! – Ben R., NY

4 – Wonderful concert yesterday! I was honored to be in the audience. – Mary J., Oregon

5 – “It looks like Aaron is ready to make a big splash In New York. It’s funny, I played his [Legend ofHagoromo CD yesterday, and the thought occurred to me that, if you hadn’t seen him perform it, you might think it was some trick done during the recording.” – Carolyn E., – Oregon

 

Aaron on Conducting Conversations WCRI

Listen to Aaron being interviewed by Mike Maino for Conducing Conversations. Click on the link below to be taken to the 1-hr episode full of witty banter and great music! Free and available 24/7.

Happy Listening!
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http://classical959.podbean.com/e/06-05-16-aaron-larget-caplan-conducting-conversations/

CD Review by This is Classical Guitar

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The Legend of Hagoromo

American & Japanese Music for Classical Guitar
by Aaron Larget-Caplan
Stone Records 2015
Visit This is Classical Guitar

I recently received this excellent recording, a mix of Japanese and American music performed by Aaron Larget-Caplan. You probably recognize Larget-Caplan from his videos, concerts or his other projects such as my recent review of John Cage arrangements or the New Lullaby Project. Also of note, Aaron Larget-Caplan is the first guitarist and first American to record on the UK label Stone Records, visit their artist page and spot the best bio pic of the bunch. Larget-Caplan-coverI haven’t been doing as many reviews lately but I love albums that have a good programatic concept and this one delivers. No shortage of great repertoire here with all 20th Century to Contemporary works:

  1. Keigo Fujii: The Legend of Hagoromo
  2. Leo Brouwer: Hika, in memoriam Toru Takemitsu
  3. Toru Takemitsu: Equinox
  4. Ken Ueno: Ed è subito sera*
  5. Kota Nakamura: Sui-hou*
  6. Harold Arlen: Over the rainbow
  7. George Gershwin: Summertime
  8. Martin MaxSchreiner: Japanese idyll no.1*
  9. Martin Max Schreiner: Japanese idyll no.2*
    *Première recording 

The Legend of Hagoromo, an epic 18 minute singe movement work by Japanese composer Keigo Fujii (b.1956) is dedicated to David Russel with whom the composer studied guitar. You can find a write up about this work in an article on Aaron Larget-Caplan’s site. It’s a beautiful opening to the album with lush orchestral chords and pacing that ranges from improvisatory to determined forward moving momentum. Excellent musical playing by Larget-Caplan, and believe me, his playing is put to the test with a wide variety of textures and challenges in terms of balance and the large scope of the piece. You get orchestral brushing, sweet melodic lines, a little Spanish touch here and there, Japanese modes, tremolo, harmonics, everything. It meanders a bit but always brings you back with bouts of focused writing. Based on a folk tale, the composer used a 16-bar song by Hiroshi Yamanoha (d. 1991), on the same title, as a basis for the work which helps tie it all together.

Takemitsu was an obvious choice for the album and Equinox delivers the goods. Also, perfectly in line with the album’s concept, Takemitsu’s arrangements of Gershwin and Arlen connect the two countries even if the music itself seems a bit out of place. General listeners will find it interesting to hear the two sides of Takemitsu ranging from contemplative dissonance to jazzy arrangements of American music. The inclusion of Takemitsu also allows some bending of the rules to get Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s Hika, in memoriam Toru Takemitsu onto the album. Larget-Caplan’s Brouwer delivers a focused performance with nice spaciousness where needed.

Personally, I was most interested to hear the new music on the album. On the American side we have a premiere by Ken Ueno (b.1970). Ed è subito sera is an exhilarating and hypnotic work combining some of the best textures the guitar can produce but not in a cliché way. The quick tremolo/arpeggio effect with the surrounding twinkling notes and micotones (bends) are very effective. Too bad this wasn’t a multi-movement work as it’s very successful and well played by Larget-Caplan with a driving determination. My only wish was that the composer would have extended the dissipation at the end to lasted longer. Japanese-born composer Kota Nakamura’s Sui-hou is a slow but steady meditative expanse. I like how the work pulls the listener into single notes while exploring multiple textures around it. The melodic strumming is very successful and handled tastefully by Larget-Caplan. Both works were commissioned for Aaron’s New Lullaby Project The Martin Max Schreiner arrangements of Two Japanese Idylls offer a mirror of the Takemitsu arrangements. These pretty, melodic, swaying works are a beautiful way to cool-down for the end of the album. Plenty of interesting effects reminiscent of traditional Japanese music and instruments: angular strong-weak melodic lines, bends, repetitive alternation, and percussion.

Overall good recording quality, more of a studio sound rather than live. It sounds a bit on the close-mic side with some overpowering mid-range to bass but nothing unpleasing. It does offer a wide spectrum of warm bass sounds to brighter and plucky tones. I think the opening chords of Fujii’s work is well suited to the mix with a warm, almost watery-bell-like sound emerging and the harmonics are nice and soft rather than piercing or too glassy. Maybe Equinox could have benefitted from a different mix but I’m splitting hairs. Also, because of the wide range of textures this mix ensures that the strumming and other effects are not harsh which was the right choice.

 Conclusion

Aaron Larget-Caplan’s The Legend of Hagoromo combines a conceptually strong programme with virtuosic and sensitive performances all-around. From the epic work of Fujii, meditative Takemistsu and Nakamura, to the charming arrangements of American and Japanese songs, this album will not disappoint guitarists or general listeners. More importantly, this is not just a random collection of concert works, but a focused project with new music, artistic creativity, and vision.  Highly recommended. – Bradford Werner (thisisclassicalguitar.com)

Read the full review on This is Classical Guitar: http://www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/review-the-legend-of-hagoromo-aaron-larget-caplan/

“A Great Arrangement”

A great review of Aaron’s arrangement of ‘Six Melodies by John Cage for violin and guitar in This is Classical Guitar by Bradford Werner.

“A few months ago I started arranging Six Melodies by Americansix-melodies-cage-guitar composer John Cage (1912-1992) but quickly found a YouTube video of Boston based guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan playing the work with great success. After asking about the arrangement I received this beautiful score by Edition Peters. No need for me to arrange when such a great edition already exists! It
’s such a treat to be able to play the music of John Cage from this era of his compositions. The gamut technique and the nested rhythmic proportions are the same used in his String Quartet in Four Part… theory aside, they create a tranquil and almost hypnotic motivic puzzle of beauty. There is little music of this style and era specifically written for guitar so high quality arrangements are very welcome.

I’ll quote more info about the piece below but it’s a great arrangement without much…”

Read the complete review at: www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/six-melodies-cage-guitar-violin/

Thanks Bradford!

New Press Photos

Last week I traveled out to Harvard, Massachusetts to meet with the wonderful composer/editor/farmer/photographer/friend Jonathan Feist. He took some pics of me and I came home with some awesome eggs! Here are a few of the pictures:

_DSC0060Yes, the hair has grown. _DSC0001

 

 

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Aaron on TV & Radio

The end of February was very sweet for Aaron with television and radio features on Boston News Network with Chris Lovett and on the nationally syndicated classical guitar radio show Classical Guitar Alive with Tony Morris

Topics include: living in Dorchester, Mass., the publication of Aaron’s John Cage arrangement of “Six Melodies”,  and his latest CD “the legend of Hagoromo”.

Aaron's interview on the Boston News NetworkFor Classical Guitar Alive with Tony Morris Aaron introduces to American audiences for the first time “the Legend of Hagoromo” by Keigo Fujii. Syndicated on over 250 radio station, Classical Guitar Alive is one the leading voices for our beautiful instrument and music.

Aaron’s interview and performance begins at about 12min.

American Record Guide ‘Hagoromo’ CD Review

The Legend of HagoromoLarget-Caplan-cover

FUJII: Legend of Hagoromo; BROUWER: Hika, in Memoriam Toru Takemitsu; TAKEMITSU: Equinox; UENO: Ed è Subito Sera; NAKAMURA: Sui-hou; ARLEN: Over the Rainbow; GERSHWIN: Summertime; SCHREINER: Two Japanese Idylls

Aaron Larget-Caplan, g—Stone 5060192780567
— 57 min

What a fascinating program. Each of the works is connected in some way to Japan. Yes, even ‘Summertime’ and ‘Over the Rainbow’, both of which are arrangements by Toru Takemitsu.

Japan’s most famous composer was also a prolific arranger of popular songs, including several by the Beatles. His arrangements are challenging and rich, though a bit overdone for my taste—like too much makeup on a beautiful woman. Larget-Caplan plays them both with evident affection.

Only two works here are familiar, Takemitsu’s ‘Equinox’ and Leo Brouwer’s ‘Hika, in Memoriam Toru Takemitsu’. Both are free and evocative, dissonant but still mostly tonal; and Larget-Caplan handles their challenges as well as any recording I know. There are three world premieres, written for the guitarist. Ken Ueno’s ‘Ed è Subito Sera’ and Kota Nakamura’s ‘Sui-hou’ were both for Larget-Caplan’s New Lullaby Project (http://www. Newlullaby.com). Martin Max Schreiner reverses Takemitsu and arranges two Japanese songs in ‘Two Japanese Idylls’. Ueno and Schreiner both use bent notes and microtones as one might hear on the Koto.

But the heart of this release is the title piece, Keigo Fujii’s Legend of Hagoromo. It is based legend of a fisherman who falls in love with a heavenly maiden who can fly with her feathered kimono, and musically grows out of a mode from Okinawa. After the beginning, the entire piece seems to be based on a single harmony, exploring that mode without any western-style progression. Tension arises from the rhythmic pulse, as notes, microtones, and percussion effects swirl together to create an amazing energy. It’s an emotional and technical tour de force, and Larget-Caplan carries us on this mythical journey with irresistible mastery.

Larget-Caplan is based in Boston, on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Boston there, and is a graduate of the New England Conservatory. Kudos for this imaginative and beautifully executed program.

American Record Guide
KEATON
January/February 2016, p. 188

 

Guitar Tasting with Franco Marino of Sicily

On Sunday Dec. 20th we were very pleased to host Sicilian luthier (guitar builder) Franco Marino and his wife Carmen for our first Guitar Tasting!

Franco Marino of Messina, Sicily

Franco Marino of Messina, Sicily

In attendance:

  • Adam Levin
  • Devin Ulibarri
  • Apostolos Paraskevas
  • Steve Rapson
  • Peter Janson
  • Kevin Collins
  • Lin and Anni Hymel
  • Aaron & Catherine Larget-Caplan

Franco Marino Guitar Tasting Photos • Like Franco on FB

Special thanks to Catherine and Caroline Larget for creating a wonderful atmosphere and to all who brought nibbles and their musical gifts to our home.

Read an interview for the Boston Classical Guitar Society with Franco in 2010: Interview

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‘Six Melodies’ Published by Edition Peters!

Exciting news!

Aaron’s Arrangement of ‘Six Melodies’ for violin & guitar by John Cage is now published and available through Edition Peters!

http://www.edition-peters.com/product/modern/six-melodies-for-violin-and-guitar/ep68526?TRE00000/

    Six Melodies by John Cage

Written in 1955 and originally for violin and keyboard, Aaron’s arrangement is the first John Cage composition featuring the guitar to be published by Editions Peters, the official publisher of the music of John Cage.

For those not experienced in the early writing of John Cage, the Six Melodies are a wonAaron & Cagederful introduction to a vibrant musical mind whose influence cannot be underestimated. The Six Melodies are quite approachable and audience friendly though their ability to transport listeners to other realms must be considered when programming. The arrangement explores and expands on the timbre (color) qualities of the guitar in place of the keyboard, and the guitar’s more intimate sound compliments the unique violin playing for a truly complimentary duo. Music progressions and hierarchy of pitches take a backseat to an expansive exploration of timbre and rhythm.

Cage_ScoresDuring this period of his composition, John Cage was greatly influenced by the I-Ching, Book of Changes, creating many works based on ‘chance-operations’ during the composing process. The influence of Asian music through rhythm patterns can be heard with the works written in rhythmic structures: 3½, 3½, 4, 4, 3, 4.

The work is not easy for violin with many harmonics and jumps due to the exact string indications given. Cage also asks for no vibrato and minimum weight on the bow. The guitar part is somewhat demanding with a few unusual chords, timbre directions and counting. As a duo there are some wonderful hockets especially in Melodies 3 and 4.

A recording of ‘Six Melodies’ is being planned for 2016-2017. Special thanks to Stephen Drury for the idea of this arrangement and to Sharan Leventhal in giving the first performance at the Boston Conservatory in 2012.

The score is available for purchase through the Edition Peters website:  http://goo.gl/Lj3L8g

For those who do perform or hear it live, please let me know by commenting on this post or via my Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/aaronlcguitar

Oregon and Washington Tour Photos and Video!

I had a fantastic time traveling through Oregon and Washington in early February.  In a little over nine days I performed six concerts, one radio show and a workshop in two states. I gave the Oregon-Washington premieres of Lynn Job’s ‘The Sixth Night’, Nolan Stolz’s ‘Lullaby for Sam’, Scott Wheeler’s ‘Nachtlied’, Garrett Ian Shatzer’s ‘Lullaby for D—‘ (world premiere and 45th New Lullaby) and my new arrangements of Bach and Scarlatti. My return to the Pacific Northwest came at a wonderful time: I missed the worst of the snow in Boston! A full map of my travels are below.

Practicing some Scarlatti in Astoria, Oregon:

For the opening concert at Grace Episcopal Church in Astoria, Oregon, the amazing artist Charles Schweigert allowed for his painting ‘Hagoromo’ to share the performance space with me, giving another interpretation of the Japanese myth while I performed Keigo Fujii’s ‘The Legend of Hagoromo’. A detail of the painting will be the cover art on my forthcoming CD!
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A true ‘full-house’ in Oysterville, Washington. It was my second performance for this wonderful house concert series.  Read a post about hosting such events by Sydney Stevens, click HERE.
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The Volcanic Theatre Pub in Bend, Oregon was the third concert of the tour.  Met by old friends and eager ears!

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A pop-up concert was added at the last minute back in Astoria in collaboration with the Orange on Blue Gallery Exhibit by Darren Orange at the John Jacobs Hotel. It was a fantastic evening with tango dancers improvising, gorgeous art work and a curious and excited audience! Watch a brief video by Jeff Daly: HERE (FB)

DSCN3511dancersMyself, tango dancers JL Gillikin & Heather Hryciw and Artist Darren Orange

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Astoria has an amazing number of artists and writers. After the performance I was surprised to meet the celebrated artist Noel Thomas.  He drew this sketch:
Noel Thomas DrawingThe Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach received a special Valentine’s Day concert, Of Love & Dreams.  The concert featured a great audience in a wonderful venue.  They also hosted in me a beautiful hotel on the beach and made sure the sun was just right so I could walk barefoot in the sand. IMG_7131IMG_7114DSCN3526

A selfie prior to concert time in Cannon Beach followed by an advertisement at Lincoln City Cultural Center, which I did not know about until I arrived! I found myself intrigued when I was drying my hands. Quite a smile!
IMG_7140 IMG_7180 IMG_7156One of the pleasures of touring is meeting friends on the road and being touched by their generosity. My fraternity brothers and sisters of Mu Phi Epsilon are very special and never cease to amaze me.  I met Judy and RG Goff when I was a wee lad of 19. In Bend they fed me, made sure I stayed hydrated with local concoctions, got me walking and were great supports in so many ways. Besides being very patient, Judy is a fantastic teacher and singer. Here she is at Lava Butte in Deschutes National Forest.

DSCN3429Hanging with MPE brother Michael Lasfetto in Portland. Great sushi!
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And with Mom in Astoria following the concert at the Darren Orange exhibit.
DSCN3515It was a marvelous tour! I met many fascinating people, some who attended three performances(!), premiered multiple works, collaborated with dancers and artists, explored amazing scenery, enjoyed good coffee and sushi and made some beautiful music, all while driving just under 900 miles.  I can’t wait for the next tour!

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.58.52 PMThank you Oregon and Washington!!