Saturday, January 15, 2011

Program Notes for Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra (Paul Safar)

Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra(Paul Safar (c)2010)

 World Premiere to take place on "Art Music LIVE in the 21st Century" concert presented by Cherry Blossom Musical Arts on Thursday Feb.10th at 7:30 pm at the Central Lutheran Church in Eugene.

The idea to write a Concerto for Electric Guitar came to me over fifteen years ago but the timing to actually begin writing on it in earnest and have the ability to get it performed happened over only the last year and a half. Although not the first of its kind, I hope my slant on the combination of electric guitar and orchestral instruments brings something new. This has been an exciting challenge for me to bring to light.
In this piece I continue my ongoing compositional attempts at blending my natural classical leanings(I grew up with classical piano and my parents are both from Vienna) with my love of rock and jazz stylings. I view this piece as a classical type concerto akin to a violin concerto but using one of the most iconic instruments of the last fifty years. The power, sustain and bending abilities of a solid body electric guitar are qualities I felt compelled to utilize in a classical framework.
The piece is traditionally structured like a Classical-Romantic Concerto with the first movement in Sonata-Allegro form. It actually uses the Beethoven Piano Sonata Op.13 as its model. Movement II is a looser song structure with a long static harmony section at its end for muted strings(ArvoPart influence). Movt III begins without a pause after a short bass clarinet-bassoon transition with rumblings from the whole orchestra into a tightly structured Rondo form.  A Fughetta encorporating various motivs throughout the entire work  is followed by a call and response drum break with the guitar and lastly a short coda.
This is a tonal piecewhich symbolically traverses the open strings of a guitar with its tonal centers: movt I travels from e-a. Movt II goes from d-g. Movt II from b-e. So the Concerto is in e minor roughly.
The piece is 98% written out note for note with short sections of improvisation over chord changes(both for the guitar and  for trumpet). The cadenza is also a mix of written out and structured improv.
I wrote the piece specifically for Olem Alves in mind as the first soloist and am forever grateful to him for his work on this project. I very much appreciate his flexibility and open mindedness. His masterly improvisational skills are not represented much here unfortunately but his virtuosic and sensitive playing  are.
Many thanks also to Doug Detrick for all his practical help and musical advice with this project! His knowledge of musical software and his orchestrational experience were of huge help. And a big thanks to Nancy,Ben,Quint and Kim and our Cherry Blossom supporters in making this first performance possible. 

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