Portland Classic Guitar (PCG) is proud to announce its 2016-17 concert season, with lots of exciting news to share. For more than a decade, we have been bringing world-class guitarists to the greater Portland area. This year we also add two important new venues to our schedule: the incomparable Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and Newmark Theatre. Our commitment to education also continues, as we help lay the groundwork for the next generation of artists, with six master classes, four student recitals, and, of course, private lessons. Additionally, we are proud to announce that PCG proprietor William Jenks has joined the faculty at Marylhurst University as guitar instructor.
This season we will be presenting three concerts with Portland’5 Centers for the Arts. The first, on March 10, will be at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and will feature the return to the PCG series the incomparable Romeros—internationally renowned as the “The Royal Family of the Guitar.” This concert will include the entire Romero Quintet including Celin, Pepe, Angel, Lito and Celino. The Romeros, as most guitar fans know, were founded by patriarch Celedonio Romero (who passed away in 1996). It was he who invented the guitar quartet format for the concert stage, and also helped provide its core repertoire. His sons (and now their sons) have carried that historic tradition forward, specializing in the kind of uncanny telepathy that can only be found in family-based ensembles. It is safe to say that there are few conductors, ensembles, or composers who wouldn’t jump at the chance to work with this amazing group. And you should jump at the chance to hear them—especially in this unbelievable venue. Not to be missed.
Two other equally exciting shows, also produced in tandem with Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, will be held at the venerable Newmark Theatre. The first Newmark Theatre concert, on January 20, will feature Harmonia Mundi recording artist Pablo Sainz Villegas, affectionately known as “the soul of the Spanish guitar.” Winner of the Gold Medal at the inaugural Christopher Parkening International Guitar Competition, Villejas was the first guitarist to win El Ojo Crítico, Spain’s top classical music honor—as well as the youngest of his generation to appear with the New York Philharmonic. He has since performed for both the Dalai Lama and the Spanish royal family, and it was he who gave the world premiere of Rounds, the first composition for guitar by five-time Academy Award-winner John Williams. He has appeared with orchestras in more than thirty countries, and in 2007 he founded the Music Without Borders Legacy (MWBL), a non-profit organization that seeks to bridge cultural, social, and political boundaries through classical music.
The second, on June 5, will feature a pairing of Angel Romero and Eliot Fisk, two celebrated masters. Fisk, the last direct pupil of Andres Segovia, is a brilliant, virtuosic performer who has appeared as soloist with prominent orchestras around the world, and has collaborated with luminaries outside of classical music as well—including the many contemporary composers who have written works for him. Founder of the guitar department at the Yale School of Music, Fisk teaches at the Universitaet Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria—and also in Boston, at the New England Conservatory. Romero is the youngest son of Celedonio Romero. He had his first public performance at age six. Enjoying a long association with famed Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo, Romero is a triple threat: a soloist, a conductor, and a composer. In the latter role, he is responsible for several cinematic scores, including the soundtrack to Robert Redford’s acclaimed 1989 film, The Milagro Beanfield War. For his contributions to the world of music, Romero has received the highest honors from his native country, as well as a Merit Award from the Recording Academy.
Other artists featured in the 2016-17 season will appear at the PCG venues listeners have loved in previous years. Latin Grammy winners, the Brazilian Assad Brothers—who the Washington Post called “the best two-guitar team in existence, maybe even in history”—will appear at downtown Portland’s First Congregational Church on April 27. Loved for their wide-ranging repertoire, which can vary from jazz to folk to Latin to Baroque, the Assads have collaborated with such esteemed artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Fernando Suarez Paz, Paquito D’Rivera, and Dawn Upshaw. This is sure to be a wonderful evening!
Furthermore, there will be a string of top-notch concerts at Marylhurst University’s Wiegand Hall: recent GFA winner Thibaut Garcia (October 7), the Oregon Guitar Quartet (October 28), Scott Kritzer (December 9), Lily Afshar (February 17), and Antigoni Goni (May 4). Still in his early twenties, Garcia has an impressive string of first-place wins at international festivals. The OGQ has released seven recordings and performs frequently up and down the West Coast; they toured Costa Rica in 2014. Local legend Kritzer has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe including concerts in New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Iranian-born Afshar is the first woman to earn a doctorate in guitar performance; she excels not only in the standard repertoire, but has also helped introduce classical guitar audiences to quarter-tone-based music, or arrangements of Persian and Azerbaijani pieces. And the Greek guitarist Goni is a truly cosmopolitan artist; she teaches or has taught at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, Columbia University in NYC, and the Royal Academy of Music in London; she is also artist-in-residence for San Francisco Performances.
PCG mastermind William Jenks will close the series on July 14, in concert with guitarists Alberto Cumplido, from Chile, and Ruben Gonzalez, from the Dominican Republic. This will be an outdoor performance at Marylhurst’s Lajos Balogh Performance Shell. Recommended for the whole family! Jenks has recorded four CDs, and has recently toured internationally in countries such as Italy, Chile, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.