Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

Review and Photos from Heretic, a micro-opera

Concert Review: Cameron-Wolfe’s “Heretic” — As Played by Aaron Larget-Caplan

By Aaron Keebaugh

Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan managed to keep the micro-opera’s crazed figure sympathetic as he blurred the lines between reality and delusion.

Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan performing Richard Cameron-Wolfe’s micro-opera Heretic. Photo: Catherine Larget-Caplan

 

“The secret of life is learning to live with interesting questions,” Richard Cameron-Wolfe said during the post-performance talkback following the American premiere of his micro-opera Heretic at Salem State’s Callan Studio Theater last Friday. The performer and composer had made good on that claim in the compelling resonance of his composition.

In this one-person drama, the protagonist, accompanying himself on guitar, wrestles with bewildering, irresolvable issues that lead to disillusion and eventual madness. Guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan managed to keep the crazed figure sympathetic as he blurred the lines between reality and delusion.

Given its challenging psychological extremes, the opera cruises through a wide range of emotions in its taut 15 minutes. Drawing on jagged musical textures as well as a disjointed monologue, the score is a journey toward a sharp and shattering gaze into the abyss. The guitarist is both hero and antihero — steeped in the craziness he is gallantly struggling to overcome, this is a journey into coming to terms with insanity.

Inspired by British writer Arthur Machen’s semi-autobiographical 1907 novel The Hill of Dreams, Heretic starts off by placing its central figure in an almost nonsensical predicament. Larget-Caplan plays a character lost in a mental fog. He ambled onto the stage, shifting his gaze about nervously. He then sat down and tore through a jarring phrase that fell somewhere between the soundscapes of Iannis Xenakis and Steve Reich. Vocal utterances entered the fray, and words were slowly formed — language which was interrupted by more waves of violent dissonance. Though it was composed with Cameron-Wolfe’s usual mathematical precision, the music in Heretic can sound personal and harrowing. The piece places listeners into Machen’s dark, dreamy world, where the overwrought senses are finding it harder and hard to discern what is true.

But, while this was an unapologetic descent into mental oblivion, Larget-Caplan’s character is no Parsifalian fool. The man has his semi-lucid moments, articulating a cultural critique in which he blamed himself and others for creating a civilization that has no love for beauty and purity. Our ideals of art, he reasoned, were no longer goals for the imagination to reach — they were artifacts of what we have lost. As he made these scathing observations, the guitarist unleashed another barrage of sound — like an atonal heavy metal riff — that framed his points with an ironic levity.

Here was a man who was driving himself to the end of his tether. Larget-Caplan’s nervous and angular movements suggested the angst of a mind that couldn’t stop churning, couldn’t stop torturing itself. At one point, the guitarist angrily bolted to the rear curtain as if to abandon his mission to think, only to be sucked back in. Heretic ends in a spirit of disquiet — with mumbled words accompanied by the sound of a guitar purposely falling out of tune. The man’s dilemma is inescapable. Caught up in a vicious cycle of grand accusations and self-absorption, he boldly embraces his disheveled mental state, all pain and no illumination.

These manic swings were well-served by Friday’s minimalist staging. Chairs were arranged in cross patterns — as much a symbol of confusion as a pragmatic choice for Larget-Caplan’s performance. Michael Harvey’s lighting and video projections conveyed an eerie aura; Jerry L. Johnson’s swift and economical stage directions never let the solipsistic action lag. The wild thorns of Cameron-Wolf’s score were well served by Larget-Caplan, whose bold and energetic presence underscored his talents as a musician and actor.

The other pieces on his hour-long program were also dedicated to introspection. Keigo Fujii’s The Legend of Hagoromo relayed a Japanese legend with cinematic flair. It is a narrative of a woman who is whisked away to heaven, where she mourns the absence of her husband and son. Her tears water a flower on earth that grows toward paradise. Father and son climb up it to visit her. Fujii’s music colorfully conveys the sadness and joys of this metaphoric meditation on death, loss, and hoped-for reunion. Larget-Caplan played the piece like the fanciful love letter it is: warm and reflective, yet coursing with frequent flamenco-like verve.

John Cage’s In a Landscape embraces greater ambiance. Larget-Caplan’s arrangement of the piano original — inspired by Erik Satie — makes use of Campanella-style playing. Harmonics are meant to ring over the regularly fingered melodic line. The difficulty in executing such complicated effects are considerable, and the guitarist’s arrangement didn’t fit snugly under the fingers. The upshot is that at times Larget-Caplan’s performance felt labored and mechanical, lacking the resonance, the distant glow, that marks the original conception.

Larget-Caplan’s arrangement of Bach’s Prelude in C Major and Vineet Shende’s Carnatic Prelude No. 1 proved more successful. His generous rubato in the Bach allowed him to revel in every shift in harmony. In the Shende — a view of Bach by way of Indian classical music — he unspooled melodies and rhythmic flourishes over drone-like resonances. It was a splendid exercise in singing tone and alert sensitivity.

When taking his bows, Larget-Caplan gestured to his guitar, happy to share the limelight with an instrument that had done its job well. Still, modesty aside, the strengths of these performances came down to Larget-Caplan, a musician of fluent technique and dramatic verve.


Aaron Keebaugh has been a classical music critic in Boston since 2012. His work has been featured in the Musical TimesCorymbus, Boston Classical ReviewEarly Music America, and BBC Radio 3. A musicologist, he teaches at North Shore Community College in both Danvers and Lynn.

2023 Year in Review – Adventure in Music

I am grateful for the many people who have made this year so special. At times I felt like 2023 was a normal year of music making and collaboration, and then I would be reminded that our recent past is very much with us and that the world is very fragile. 

I consider 2023 to be Adventure in Music year, and I think we have earned a bit of rest and a special cappuccino or affogato (see below) to commemorate the beauty that can exist in the world, if we so desire it.

Onward for a wonderful, safe, and healthy 2024, and thanks to all who have listened, enjoyed, and explored music with me in 2023!

Aaron

Collaborators:

  • Christopher Bush, clarinet
  • Johnathan McCullough, baritone
  • Frederic Jodry III, harpsichord
  • Robert Lehman, violin
  • Kimberly Lehman, viola
  • Rebecca Hartka, cello
  • Jeff Christmas, conductor with the Bowdoin Chamber Choir
  • Charles Coe, poet
  • Kabir Sehgal, Tiger Turn
  • Alex Fedorov, design
  • Steve Hunt, mixing and mastering
  • Gina Genova, Will Rowe, and Simon Henry Berry, American Composers Alliance
  • Gene Caprioglio, Edition Peters
  • Steve Schwartz, Your Heaven Audio
  • Michael Newman, Mannes School of Music
  • João Luiz, Hunter College
  • Tali Roth, Juilliard
  • Nick Morgan, TEDx

Premieres:

  • Alan Hovhaness – Mystic Flute, Op. 29arranged by ALC, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA, February 2023 (US premiere)
  • Daniel Felsenfeld – Only Winter Certainties on Bargemusic, Brooklyn, New York, April 2023 (info)
  • Sam Cave – …in the soft dark welling… at the Smith Center for the Arts, Providence College, September 2023
  • Nicolás Lell Benavides – Rinconcito for guitar & string trio, University of Southern Maine, December 2023 (info)

New Album & Recordings

  • Spanish Candy – May 26, 2023 on Tiger Turn (888-10) (info)
  • Berceuse Inquiète by Ronald Pearl, for the New Lullaby Project, live at Providence College (listen)

Album Reviews

Publications:

  • honey cadence – a collection of six meditations by Aaron Larget-Caplan was published by the American Composers Alliance, May 2023 (info)

Publication Review:

Awards: 

  • Paul Revere Award for Graphic Excellence from The Music Publishers Association of the United States presented for Aaron’s arrangement of Bacchanale by John Cage, June 2023 (info)
  • Cultural Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for Now Musique, Feb. 2023
  • Best of 2023 by The Arts Fuse: God’s Time: Music of J.S. Bach on Guitar, Dec. 2023 (info)
  • Reached 6-million streams!

Videos:

  • Spanish Candy intro video (watch)
  • Remembering by Laurie Spiegel, written for the New Lullaby Project (watch)
  • Libertango by Astor Piazzolla, arranged for sextet (watch)
  • Interview with Anthony R. Green (watch
  • Interview with Daniel Felsenfeld (watch)
  • TEDx – moving still by Aaron Larget-Caplan (watch

Instructional Videos:

Interviews:

Classes

Misc.

  • New press photos with photographer Paula Morin (info)
  • TEDx – moving still by Aaron Larget-Caplan (watch

REVIEW: ‘honey cadence’ Publication

Honored to have the score collection of ‘honey cadence’ featured on the awesome classical guitar resource This Is Classical Guitar!

–> https://www.thisisclassicalguitar.com/honey-cadence-aaron-larget-caplan/

There is a very nice write up and a lovely video of the title track by Bradford Werner too!

If you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter, click the link above and sign up. It’s worth it!

TY American Composers Alliance for a beautiful publication!

Bargemusic NYC Return on Oct. 6

Photo L-R: Kevin Siegfried, Alan Hovhaness, Stephanie Ann Boyd, Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, Aaron Larget-Caplan,
and Keigo Fujii

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Guitar Virtuoso Aaron Larget-Caplan to Mesmerize Audiences Once Again at Bargemusic’s ‘Eclectic Series’ Performance

Photo by Tracey Yarad, April 2023

LINK FOR TICKETS HERE

BROOKLYN, NY — August 15, 2023 — Bargemusic, New York’s premier floating concert hall, is thrilled to announce the highly-anticipated return of guitarist and composer Aaron Larget-Caplan to its stage. On Friday, October 6, 2023, at 7:00 pm, Bargemusic will be transformed into a musical haven as Larget-Caplan presents his extraordinary solo program, “Dances, Dreams, and Legends.”  

Larget-Caplan promises an enchanting evening of musical diversity, showcasing a fusion of cultures, emotions, and legends through the language of the guitar. The program, “Dances, Dreams, and Legends,” will feature an eclectic repertoire that includes dances from Brazil, Spain, and the United States, contemporary lullabies composed specifically for Larget-Caplan’s groundbreaking New Lullaby Project, and a monumental solo piece inspired by the captivating 13th-century Japanese legend of Hagoromo.

Lovers of classical and contemporary guitar music will be treated to compositions by Isaac Albéniz, J.S. Bach, Antonio Jobim, and Keigo Fujii. Additionally, the evening features the New York premieres of compositions by Alan Hovhaness, Stephanie Anne Boyd, Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, Kevin Siegfried, and Larget-Caplan.

Join us for an unforgettable evening of musical artistry as Aaron Larget-Caplan returns to Bargemusic to weave a captivating tapestry of melodies, rhythms, and legends through his guitar.

Larget-Caplan will be giving classes at Hunter College (10/4) and Juilliard Pre-College (10/6). More are being added. 

*****

Photo by Tracey Yarad, April 2023

Event Details:
Date and Time: Friday, October 6, 2023, at 7:00 pm
Admission: $35

Venue:
Bargemusic
Fulton Ferry Landing
Brooklyn Bridge Blvd
Brooklyn, NY 11201

For ticket information and reservations, please visit: https://www.bargemusic.org/concert/eclectic-series-dances-dreams-and-legends-antonio-jobim-kevin-seigfried-dennis-bathory-kitsz-stephanie-ann-boyd-isaac-albeniz-aaron-larget-caplan-alan-hovhaness-j-s-bach-keigo-fujii-aar/ 

FB Event: HERE

About Aaron Larget-Caplan:

Aaron Larget-Caplan is an internationally acclaimed guitarist and composer known for his virtuosity and passion for expanding the boundaries of classical guitar music. His ten albums have earned over 5-million streams since 2021, and he has received numerous awards and accolades for his groundbreaking projects and performances, making him a prominent figure in the contemporary and classical music scene.

About Bargemusic:

Bargemusic, moored at the scenic Fulton Ferry Landing under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, is a unique floating concert venue offering exceptional performances and breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. Renowned for its commitment to bringing world-class music to the heart of New York City.

Photo by Tracey Yarad, April 2023

Scores Published: honey cadence

Larget-Caplan’s Debut Compositions “honey cadence” Published

Boston, MA — Celebrated guitarist and composer Aaron Larget-Caplan announces the inaugural collection of compositions, “honey cadence,” published by the New York publisher American Composers Alliance (ACA). This groundbreaking collection of six captivating meditative guitar solos showcases Larget-Caplan’s exceptional musicality and introduces audiences to a new side of the celebrated performer.

The compositions featured on “honey cadence” were meticulously crafted by Larget-Caplan during the latter part of 2021 and early 2022. Each piece reflects his profound connection to the guitar as a medium for expressing emotions and evoking introspective journeys. The album’s meditative nature is designed to envelop listeners in a tranquil and contemplative sonic landscape, offering moments of serenity in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Released as an EP in 2022, “honey cadence” has since garnered extraordinary acclaim, amassing over 3-million streams since its debut on the label Tiger Turn, a testament to Larget-Caplan’s ability to resonate with a wide range of listeners. Produced by multi-Grammy winner Kabir Sehgal, the album exemplifies a harmonious collaboration between two brilliant minds in the world of music.

Commenting on the creative process behind “honey cadence,” Larget-Caplan expressed, “I started sketching melodies and gestures that were floating in my head with the intent of creating an album of meditative intimacy, which though on the quiet side, would be able to keep one’s attention. Improvisations highlighting my preferred qualities of the guitar: tone and timbre variation, note doubling, harmonics, pitch bends, and percussion gave me the confidence and freedom to explore. Each of the six titles has a connection to music, as well as general language, i.e., ‘anticipation’ is a musical ornament and linguistically expresses expectation or prediction.”

Physical scores or PDFs of the 32-page publication are available. They include notes and instructions about each of the compositions, as well as inspiring quotes by composer John Cage, Toru Takemitsu, and Larget-Caplan.

As a respected figure in the world of classical and contemporary guitar, Aaron Larget-Caplan has continuously pushed the boundaries of his craft, garnering recognition for his innovative approach to both performance and composition. “honey cadence” stands as a testament to his artistic evolution and serves as a testament to his dedication to enriching the world of music.

For further information and to explore the mesmerizing sounds of “honey cadence,” please follow Aaron Larget-Caplan on social media platforms.

***** 

honey cadence Links:

ACA (PDF & physical)Score Collection: Bandcamp (autographed and includes free download of album)

AUDIO:
Amazon  • AppleSpotify 

About Aaron Larget-Caplan:

Aaron Larget-Caplan is an acclaimed guitarist, composer, and educator known for his pioneering approach to classical and contemporary guitar music. With a career spanning decades, Larget-Caplan has established himself as a dynamic and innovative artist, captivating audiences with his emotive performances and groundbreaking compositions. His work has been recognized globally, earning him a reputation as a trailblazer in the world of music.

Socials: fb/ig/x: @alcguitar, yt/tt: @aaronlcguitar

About American Composers Alliance:

The American Composers Alliance (ACA) is a renowned organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of American contemporary classical music. Founded in 1937 by such luminaries as Aaron Copland, ACA has played a pivotal role in nurturing the work of composers across generations, fostering a vibrant community of creators and performers who shape the landscape of modern composition.

Composers.com 

Album Review – Spanish Candy – Five Stars!

SPANISH CANDY  • Fanfare

Aaron Larget-Caplan (gtr) • TIGER TURN 888-10 (31:58)

ALBÉNIZ Suite española No. 1, op. 47: No. 3, Sevilla. Granada (both arr. Larget-Caplan). Suite española No. 2, op. 97: No. 4, Zambra granadiana. SANLÚCAR Mantilla de Feria. TÁRREGA La Paloma. La Mariposa. Lágrima. Recuerdos de la Alhambra. MARQUINA España Cañi.

Five stars: A beautiful homage from a master guitarist to Spain. “Candy” it might be, but offered at the highest level.

Only 6 of Aaron Larget-Caplan’s 10 discs has been reviewed in Fanfare. I reviewed two of them: Honey Cadence in Fanfare 46:1, comprised of some of Larget-Caplan’s own compositions and God’s Time, a disc devoted to Larget-Caplan’s transcriptions of Bach keyboard works for guitar (47:4). This new disc, Spanish Candy is his tenth album (no flies on me for knowing this!) and celebrates his love for Spanish music and flamenco, mixing arrangements of works originally for piano with pieces for guitar. It was Spanish music that inspired Larget-Caplan as a child, so the project is clearly dear to his heart. As he says, “this music lit a flame in my heart and literally changed my life”; inevitably, Segovia was a large influence.

This is his fourth disc on Tiger Turn records (and, indeed, with successful producer Kabir Sehgal) Larget-Caplan’s trademark technical security mixed with flair and élan fits this music perfectly. He also has a long history of working with flamenco dancers in a classical-flamenco fusion via his ensemble ¡Con Fuego!.

The attractive “Zambra granadina,” the fourth and final movement of the 1888 Suite española No. 2, is deservedly popular. Larget-Caplan’s rhythmic sense is the key to the success of the reading, while his timbral excellence and variety enlivens the musical surface. The recording, close and clear, supports his every move, The more extrovert “Sevilla” (from the first Suite) speaks of blazing sunshine, propelled along by its internal rhythms. Larget-Caplan’s articulation is splendid.

Composed by flamenco guitarist Esteban De Sanlúcar (1910-89), Mantilla de Feria is a gentler beast, and here it is Larget-Caplan’s control that is so impressive, maintaining a low dynamic while projecting the spirit of dance. As he does in the habanera, La Paloma by Francisco Tárrega. The layering of bassline rhythm and sweet (and very famous) melody is exquisitely judged, the intervening registral space carrying an implicit loneliness. The next piece La Mariposa, is complex yet brief; the rather more restrained Lágrima sings a sweet song in response. Perhaps a touch more flow would have sealed the deal here: expression that works in the concert hall sometimes can feel stilted in the recording studio. No such caveats about the remarkably peaceful Recuerdos de la Alhambra (an impression helped by Larget-Caplan’s superb tremolo technique). The final offering of the five-piece Tárrega sequence is Prudent, a minor-key étude of great poignancy while maintaining its study-like demeanor.

The last piece by Albéniz follows: the serenata Granada. And what colors Larget-Caplan is able to conjure up from his guitar here! Of all the loveliness on this disc, this performance is the fairest (and if that sounds like a slender maiden, it is not by accident: there is grace galore here). Finally, Pascual Marquina Narro’s España Cañi (Gypsy Spain; the composer is better known with “Pasquina” as the surname). Larget-Caplan puts a whole lot into his performance so the listener can draw a whole lot out. Detail is brilliantly projected, while the music itself is infused with the spirit of the pasodoble.

A beautiful homage from a master guitarist to Spain. “Candy” it might be, but offered at the highest level. Recommended.  Colin Clarke

Five stars: A beautiful homage from a master guitarist to Spain. “Candy” it might be, but offered at the highest level.

This article originally appeared in Issue 47:2 (Nov/Dec 2023) of Fanfare Magazine.

New Press Photos + Contest

I had the pleasure of working with Paula Morin in Salem, Massachusetts recently for some new press photos. 

Do you have a favorite?

Write your answer below (see letters below for corresponding pictures) and many lucky winners will receive free bling and an album download!a,b,c,
d,e,f

g,h,i
j,k,l

* Click on the photo block to make them bigger

Follow Paula Morin on Instagram: @paulaevelynphotography

New Album – Spanish Candy

Spanish Candy is now available!

–> https://spanishcandy.lnk.to/SpanishCandy (streaming, downloads, CDs)

Spanish Candy features classical Spanish and flamenco standards by Isaac Albéniz and Francisco Tárrega, Esteban du Sanlúcar, and Pascual Marquina.

Spanish Candy is the culmination of a vision that sought to combine my favorite elements of flamenco (dance, rasgueado, energy) and Spanish classical guitar (harmonic language and colors). See Sevilla, Mantilla de Feria, and España Cañi for examples.

The 10 tracks promise to be a treat for fans of Spanish classical and flamenco music.

This is my 10th studio album and fourth with producer Kabir Sehgal for Tiger Turn.

It is also the first dedicated to the music of Spain, I am grateful to be able share Spanish Candy with you.

Read the complete press release and see a video playlist: https://alcguitar.com/album-spanish-candy.php

Thank you for listening,
Aaron

Ps. The first 50 CD orders via Bandcamp will receive a special ALC Olé magnet.

CD Tracks. photo by Catherine Larget-Caplan

Spanish Candy CD inside

Published Composer – American Composers Alliance

I am very proud to announce that I am now affiliated as a composer with the American Composers Alliance (ACA):

https://www.composers.com/composers/aaron-larget-caplan

My first collection of compositions, honey cadence, are officially published today and available worldwide!

Purchase the physical score through the ACA or on my Bandcamp page HERE. PDFs of the scores area also available HERE.

Based in NYC, the ACA is a nonprofit composer service organization dedicated to the publishing and promoting of American contemporary classical music through concerts, grants, collaborations, and recordings.

Founded in 1937 by Aaron Copland, I am humbled to join this historic organization with its powerful and inclusive vision, and to be affiliated with such a truly fantastic group of composers, a few of whom I am honored to have forged friendships with through music. Learn more about the ACA.

I was introduced to the organization in 2015 by Thomas L. Read. I have since had the pleasure of working as a performer, grant recipient, and curator with their fearless director Gina Genova.

In 2020 and 2021 the ACA co-published two volumes of scores by 30 composers from my New Lullaby Project in the anthologies: Nights Transfigured and Hushed. The first winning multiple Revere Publishing Awards.

The first collection of my own compositions: honey cadence – six meditations for guitar solo are available today! Gratitude to Simon Berry for his excellent work and patience in bringing this publication to life.

The collection, recorded on the honey cadence album has earned over 3-million streams since its release by Tiger Turn in April 2022.

Amazon MusicSpotifyApple Music

 

A few of the ACA composers I have performed:

Will be playing:

  • Richard Cameron-WolfeHeretic – micro-opera (2024)
  • John Anthony Lennon* 
  • Darleen Mitchell*
  • David Liptak*

I look forward to continued collaborations and more musical creations.

*To be rescheduled from 2020

Aaron on Conducting Conversations

Aaron is featured on Conducting Conversations with Mike Maino on WCRI.
Some talk and lots of music!
 
 
Free to listen and 48min. 
 
PROGRAM:
3 Tracks from Spanish Candy
2 Tracks from honey cadence
Small preludes from God’s Time – Music of Bach