“Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra” is a new composition written by Paul Safar, a local composer and performer.
Safar said the concept of fusing classical and modern music came to him some 15 years ago, but hadn’t started working on the piece until recently.
“It’s always something I’ve been wanting to do, and then a couple years ago I thought, ‘you know, too much time is gonna go by — I’m gonna try to sink my teeth into it now,’” Safar explained.
Working with guitar instructor Olem Alves helped make the piece more “organic,” and Safar said Alves’ involvement fit like “a piece in a puzzle.”
“It’s my music, but his style of playing helped me write it,” Safar said. “This is a very classically-oriented piece, [but] he’s more of a jazz person, so we compromised,” leaving a section of the composition open for an improvisational guitar solo — Alves’ musical specialty.
“I come from a blues/rock background and then later got into jazz,” Alves wrote in an email to The Torch. “Therefore my musical comfort zone is improvisation.”
At first, Alves admitted he’d felt nervous and doubtful of his ability to perform the track.
“But then as I became comfortable … through practice and hard work, my thoughts were of satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and a feeling of, ‘wow this is going to be good,’” he wrote. “The piece as a whole is out of the box for me as a musician,” Alves continued, “but studying it and eventually mastering it has made me a better person and musician.”
Safar hopes the modern twist on classical orchestral music will resonate with audience members.
“When I first had this idea, maybe it wasn’t the right time for an audience to appreciate it, but I feel like [there’s] more alignment with classical and modern music these days,” Safar said. “It’ll be interesting to see what people think of it.”