Australian-American classical guitarist Rupert Boyd will perform at Menezes Braganza Panjim on 15 October 2015, 7 pm. Donation passes available at Furtados Music stores. He spoke to the Navhind Times in an exclusive interview.
1. Although you’ve been as far as China in 2013, your India tour has been organised this year. How did it come about?
I’m very much looking forward to performing in India for this first time this coming October. It came about after being invited to perform in the inaugural Gharana Music Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. After being invited to that, I organised some additional concerts in India and the Philippines. I have actually been to India before. I spent 4 weeks traveling the country in 2012, but did so without my guitar, and is one of the few times in my life that I have travelled purely for tourism.
2. I’m always fascinated by the ‘entry points’ of performers to classical music. What’s your story? Were your parents musicians? Was it a concert that lit the spark? How young were you? Were you lucky to have high-quality teaching from the very beginning?
My ‘entry point’ to classical music started when I was 8 years old. I was taking a general music programme at my primary school that was run by teachers from the local school of music, in Canberra, Australia. One day I was asked if I would like to play an instrument, and that same day my brother came home from high school playing a brand new guitar. I went back to my teachers the next day and said that I wanted to play guitar! While I still practice 4 to 5 hours a day, my brother gave up after just a couple of weeks. Although my parents are not particularly musical, they do love music, and recordings were always played in my house as a kid, from classical to jazz and rock and roll. I feel very lucky and fortunate to have always had great teachers from the beginning, and I thank them all for inspiring me to continue a life in music.
3. Young people who take up guitar here are often tempted to go (often irreversibly) down other paths, towards other genres, popular music, jazz. Again, what’s your story? Your bio obviously highlights your accomplishments in classical music. Did you try ‘everything’ before deciding on classical music? Or do you play ‘cross-over’ music as well?
While from the very beginning I was taught classical guitar, when I was in high school I played a lot of electric guitar, trying to imitate some the great rock and roll guitarists like Jimi Hendrix. If anything though, this only deepened my love of all music, and while I have dabbled in other styles, nowadays I only perform classical guitar.
4. Any thoughts about Indian classical music played on guitar for example ? Have you been intrigued by the playing of Pandit Vishva Mohan Bhatt?
I am very excited to return to India and to learn more about Indian classical music. A few years ago I played a composition for guitar and flute by Ravi Shankar, but am excited to learn more about new compositions and ways of approaching playing music on the classical guitar.
5. Tell us about your forthcoming CD recording in November 2015. What will be on it?
In November I will be recording a new CD with John Taylor, one of the world’s leading producers and engineers of classical music. We will record in a beautiful old church about a 45-minute train ride outside of London, in a very small village that consists of the church and two pubs, and then surrounded by wheat-fields. I recorded my duo CD Songs from the Forest there in 2011, and it’s a great place to be able to focus entirely on recording.
The repertoire is very similar to what I will be performing in India, and comprises a nice mix of compositions that I have collected on my travels around the world in the past few years; from a Fantasy on a Hawaiian lullaby, given to me by the professor of composition at the University of Honolulu when I was there last year, to a few contemporary compositions by the Australian composer Phillip Houghton; from a renaissance lute work by John Dowland, to compositions from Scotland, Italy, Spain, Cuba and Brazil.
6. For the guitar geeks who read this interview: What guitar do you play? Have the erratic airline regulations made you rethink what instrument you carry on tour? I refer of course to “United [Airlines] Breaks Guitars” and so many other airline companies who seem to have rules that change every moment. Do you have one instrument for touring, and another for ‘home’ concerts?
Any preference for strings?
I have two concert guitars: a 2011 guitar made by Greg Smallman and Sons, and a 1996 Eugene Philp, who was Greg Smallman’s apprentice. On this tour I will be performing on my Philp, which is the same guitar that I recorded my solo CD Valses Poéticos and aforementioned duo CD Songs from the Forest. I have heard a lot of horror stories about traveling with guitars. I always travel with a very strong case, but have been finding that airlines are getting better about letting guitars go in the cabin. It always an anxious time having to check the guitar in the hold, as especially when traveling on the day of a concert, one can have many nightmares about the guitar being damaged, or being sent to the wrong airport!
I am sponsored by D’Addario strings, and use their regular Pro Arte high tension treble strings and regular tension basses.
7. Lastly, a little about the programme you will play in Goa. You have composers one would expect on a guitar recital programme: Dowland, de Falla, Tarrega, Villa-Lobos, Piazzolla. But you also have names that (to me at any rate) are not so familiar: Legnani, Fornerod, Houghton.
The works I will be playing in India are some of my favourite compositions, and are a nice mix of pieces from around the world. Some of these works will be known to audiences familiar with western classical music, while some are more obscure. I look forward to presenting two works by the composer Phillip Houghton, from my home country Australia, as well as a fairly unknown work by the Swiss composer Fornerod, which was written for the guitarist Andres Segovia in 1953, but which it seems was not played until found in Segovia’s archives just a few years ago. I will also be playing a collection of Celtic Songs arranged for guitar by Scottish guitarist David Russell, and my own new arrangement of Pantomima from Falla’s opera El Amor Brujo.
(An edited version of this article in the Buzz section of the Navhind Times Goa India)