The 2021 New York Guitar Festival (NYGF) pays tribute to the iconic classical guitarist Julian Bream with an online series of concerts beginning July 14. This year’s series “Remembering Julian Bream,” includes commissions by a group of stellar classical guitarists, lutenists and composers –including Pepe Romero, Sharon Isbin, Leo Brouwer and Laura Snowden - in honor of the Grammy Award-winning concert artist who died at his home in Wiltshire, England on August 14, 2020, at the age of 87. In his New York Times obituary, Allan Kozinn wrote that Bream “pushed the guitar beyond its Spanish roots and expanded its range by commissioning dozens of works from major composers, and who also played a crucial role in reviving the lute as a modern concert instrument.”
“Remembering Julian Bream” will premier three video performances each day, from July 14 - July 20 at 3pm, 4pm and 5pm EDT via the New York Guitar Festival YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/guitarfestival. Full programming schedule listed below. WNYC Radio’s “New Sounds,” in partnership with the New York Guitar Festival, will debut audio recordings of the newly commissioned works at 93.9FM or at www.newsounds.org.
Six composers will perform their own works dedicated to Bream: Laura Snowden (UK), Jiji (Korea), Leo Brouwer (Cuba), Jozef van Wissem (Holland), Derek Gripper (South Africa), and Gyan Riley (USA). In addition to these world premieres, the series includes performances of the classical guitar music that Bream became known for, dating from the 16th through the 20th century. Composers will include John Dowland, Anthony Holborne, Benjamin Britten, Francisco Tarrega, Mauro Giulliani, Enrique Granados, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and more.
Jason Vieaux, the Grammy Award-wining guitarist, commented that: “Bream was the ideal classical musician and artist for me, regardless of instrument. He was a primary role model for me and for so many in our field. Bream not only was sophisticated, refined, hip and earthy, all at once... he was pointing the way toward a possible future. The number and scope of his contributions are staggering." Sharon Isbin, another Grammy winner, said “I will always be grateful to the legendary Julian Bream for his impassioned, heartfelt performances and recordings; his dedication to expanding the literature by commissioning outstanding contemporary composers; and for the generous private lesson he gave me at age fourteen which changed my life!”
The lutenist Hopkinson Smith comments that “Bream was an extraordinary communicator with a seemingly unstoppable energy. His voracious technique well served his deep lyric sense and his eyes understood all that was going on around him. He was a truly charismatic figure with an adventurous spirit and an inquisitive mind.” Lutenist and composer Jozef van Wissem adds that Bream: “single-handedly put the lute back on the map.”
WNYC’s John Schaefer explains, “I can understand why so many people think the classical guitar really begins with Andres Segovia. But it didn’t end there – otherwise we’d all just be playing Spanish music and Bach. Bream put the guitar on a wider, global, musical map, and the explosion of interest in and compositions for the guitar really starts with him. Also I hurt myself trying to learn how to play Aguado’s “Adagio” from one of Bream’s publications.”
New York Guitar Festival’s Artistic Director David Spelman adds of the project, “Listening to, and sharing, music has been a lifeline for so many people during this year of social isolation. We hope this project will spread the joy of music, and shine a light on the remarkable contributions of Julian Bream, whose life stands as a testament to a life totally dedicated to music.”
Access to “Remembering Julian Bream” is free. The NYGF and performing artists are asking viewers to make donations to MusiCares. Learn more about charitable foundation of The Recording Academy’s MusicCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, and donate to help the music community affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, here: www.grammy.com/musicares/get-help/musicares-coronavirus-relief-fund
Daily at www.youtube.com/guitarfestival
Wednesday, July 14: Sharon Isbin at 3pm EDT, Pepe Romero at 4pm EDT, Pablo Sáinz Villegas at 5pm EDT
Thursday, July 15: Jason Vieaux at 3pm EDT, David Leisner at 4pm EDT, William Kanengiser at 5pm EDT
Friday, July 16: Derek Gripper at 3pm EDT, Amadeus Guitar Duo at 4pm EDT, Paul Odette at 5pm EDT
Saturday, July 17: Eliot Fisk at 3pm EDT, Hopkinson Smith at 4pm EDT, Marija Temo at 5pm EDT
Sunday, July 18: Jozef van Wissem at 3pm EDT, Alberta Khoury at 4pm EDT, Tengue Zhang at 5pm EDT
Monday, July 19: Benjamin Verdery at 3pm EDT, Jiji at 4pm EDT, Gyan Riley at 5pm EDT
Tuesday, July 20: Adam Del Monte at 3pm EDT, Newman & Oltman Guitar Duo at 4pm EDT, Laura Snowden at 5pm EDT