The ACGS has been around, in one form or another, since the Sixties, but it's made its presence felt most keenly over the last five years, both in performance, hosting practically every well-known classical guitarist in the world, including John Williams, Pepe Romero, and Christopher Parkening, and in education, through its outreach program, which this year will be in residence at 12 Austin-area schools, teaching more than 600 students. Perhaps most impressively, the ACGS is the largest classical guitar organization in the country, and the performance of the Brazilian Guitar Quartet is the latest feather in its organizational cap.
"One of the strengths of the classical guitar," says Hinsley, "is that it is involved with so many diverse genres. Roland Dyens writes jazz-inspired and even avant-garde music for classical guitar. Carlo Domeniconi writes music that combines Turkish harmony and rhythm with Western rock & roll. Tangos, like those of Astor Piazzolla, are increasingly programmed as concert music for all instruments, not just the guitar. Historically there's a strong romantic classical guitar tradition throughout the 19th century, and so we have analogs to Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin. And it has a particularly strong presence in Spanish, Italian, and German repertoires."
And while all you'll see onstage is four guitarists, playing in such exquisite harmony that they sound like one instrument, you may think the instrument you're hearing is not a guitar but a harpsichord or even a piano. "I think some musicians quite consciously imitate a harpsichord when they play certain types of music on the guitar," says Hinsley. "Guitar belongs in the harpsichord, piano, and harp family, and one of the most unique things about the ensemble is that they have two eight-stringed instruments. So you hear some notes in ranges that you don't often hear on guitars, because they've got one extra-low string and one extra-high string. And when you get four guitars playing together, two of which have an extended range, you can capture the unexpected."
The Brazilian Guitar Quartet performs Friday, July 25, 7:30pm, at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, 7050 Village Center Dr. For more information, call 300-2247 or visit www.austinclassicalguitar.org.
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