West Brattleboro, Vt. — As a musical treat for local residents and foliage visitors alike, Friends of Music at Guilford (FOMAG) is presenting “A Celebration of the Classical Guitar” at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 29, at All Souls UU Church in West Brattleboro. Featured performers include David William Ross and the Procter/Hale duo of Steve Procter, guitar, and Alison Hale, flute.
Vocalist Jessica Gelter introduced FOMAG to Keene-based guitarist Ross in February 2018, when he was a member of the instrumental trio for her performance of David Lang’s “Death Speaks,” the centerpiece of FOMAG’s musicale “The Last Dance.” Soon afterward, Ross queried whether FOMAG would host a solo guitar concert connected with his next recording project. This expanded celebration of the guitar evolved from that proposal.
Ross has performed throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Trained in both classical and jazz, he studied at Keene State, Peabody Conservatory, and the Thornton School of USC, including with noted guitarists José Lezcano, Julian Gray, and Scott Tennant. Recently appointed assistant music director at The Putney School, Ross has also taught at Fitchburg State, Keene State, the Vermont Jazz Center, and the Concord Community Music School. An advocate of new music and genre stretching, he enjoys composing “organic” and piece-specific music for dance and other performance arts, and has played, produced, and recorded with classical, jazz, and rock groups. A recent review in The Equinox considers Ross “a refreshing reminder of what the guitar is capable of in the hands of a passionate musician.”
Ross’s repertoire for this concert includes selections by Argentine composer and bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla (1921-92), who incorporated elements from jazz and classical music into his “nuevo tango”; as well as by Italian guitarist and composer Carlo Domeniconi (b. 1947); Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-96); and Cuban composer, conductor, and classical guitarist Leo Brouwer (b. 1939).
Steve Procter has been connected with a wide array of ensembles and musicians over the past forty years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a Master’s in classical guitar performance, he toured the Far East with a classical guitar orchestra, was lutenist in two early music ensembles, played “faux-oud” in a Turkish music ensemble, performed Brazilian music with Cafe Paradiso, and participated in four recording projects with violinist Mary Lea. The one constant has been his duo partnership with flutist Alison Hale.
Over more than three decades the duo has explored the guitar as continuo in baroque repertoire, performed parlor and concert repertoire by Classical period guitarist/composers, and played 20th century and contemporary works by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Piazzolla, and others. A repertoire they return to repeatedly is the rich tradition of Brazilian choro music.
Procter says, “Strong formal structure, spicy harmonies, rhythmic complexity, and contrasting moods all have a strong gravitational pull for me. Choro has all those in abundance. And since flute is a staple of the traditional choro ensemble, the writing is idiomatic for Alison’s instrument. The repertoire embodies the conjunction of disparate ideas and influences that gives rise to creation of something new and wonderful.”
Hale earned her M.M. and D.M.A. in flute from the Manhattan School after graduating from Mount Holyoke, and was a winner of the 1981 Artists International Competition. She performed extensively in New York and has concertized in Europe, South America, and elsewhere in the U.S. In addition to her duo work with Procter, she is currently a member of the Portland (Maine) Symphony, Portland Opera Repertory Theatre, and Vermont Virtuosi Flute Ensemble, and teaches at Mount Holyoke and Amherst.
Tickets for “The Classical Guitar” are $15 at the door and include a teatime Harvest-themed reception with the performers. Friends of Music at Guilford, now in its 54th season, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to present works by living composers and underperformed works by composers from past centuries.
All Souls UU Church is at 29 South St., up a wooded driveway across from the new West Brattleboro fire station and village green, about 1.2 mi. west of Exit 2 off I-91. A few handicapped parking spots are on a paved lane to the right just at the top of the drive.
For further information, contact the FOMAG office at (802) 254-3600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.