Apr. 2, 2019

Classical Guitar ~ Timothy Phelan

Classical Guitar is a lovely instrument, with a different sound than an acoustic guitar. This is due to the smaller size, nylon strings instead of steel, and different woods that are used to build them. The ‘action’ is fairly high. It is generally played with a gentle, fingerstyle approach.

Typically Spain has been famous for Classical Guitar repertoire, with a 6 String structure, however, it originated in Italy as a 5 String instrument. As early as Vivaldi and Paganini, works were being written for Classical Guitar.

Virtuoso Spanish Guitarist Andres Segovia (born in 1893, died in 1987) is credited with devising the standard Classical position and techniques, using a footstool and sitting the guitar high up on one knee. This brings the fret board closer and higher to the body, for ease of playing. Segovia transcribed many pieces for Classical guitar, as there was no real repertoire to make a full concert.

A blind composer, Francisco de Asís Tárrega, (1852 - 1909) composed many pieces for Segovia to play. Segovia in turn became the teacher of John Williams, (born in England in 1941, just one year before John McLaughlin) who became another virtuoso guitarist in the Classical Style. Classical Guitar is not necessarily to be confused with the music of the Classical era!

Among countless others, some famous Rock and Jazz guitarists we know who have also played Classical Guitar are Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) Mason Williams, and Tommy Emmanuel, who plays Classical on a steel string guitar.

The lineage of these great guitarists, the teachers and students, can be traced by many, right back to Segovia himself.

Liona Boyd is one of those whose guitar training is connected to Segovia. Incidentally, her grandmother was born in the same town in Spain that Segovia came from! Boyd, who was born in London UK, became a Torontonian and now lives in LA, and has added singing and songwriting to her list of talents.

Boyd has also been a teacher, and in fact taught a friend of mine for some time ~ St. Catharines artist Timothy Phelan is a well-known Classical Guitarist who has made a world-wide career for himself in recent years. Touring to Asia and Europe, he plays ensemble works with other instruments such as cello and flute, (he played many Weddings for several years with my Mother, Eleanor Braun, a flutist who is now retired), and most recently, he has added Arrangements and Conducting to his arsenal of abilities. The video above is of Tim conducting a Guitar Choir, for a piece that he arranged himself.