This past weekend I had the great privilege of premiering my first guitar duet in the esteemed Brooklyn Conservatory of Music as part of a benefit concert. I was joined by the wonderful guitarist Madeleine Davidson, who commissioned the piece for the event -as well as several other wonderful musicians who contributed that day.
The piece is called Ten Kingdoms and is based on the writings of the 16th century Spanish friar Bartolome de las Casas, who famously documented the atrocities committed by the Spaniards in the Americas. After a friend on facebook posted a video citing his writings, I immediately bought his work “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” and couldn’t put it down. He begins the book by mentioning how “no fewer than ten kingdoms” had been completely depopulated and then goes on to describe the process and events that led to this devastation. A pretty amazing history lesson you probably skipped in school.
At the concert, we premiered the first movement, which is based on the text: “Those that arrived from the remotest parts of Spain…and who pride themselves in the name of Christians.” It imagines the excited feelings of those Spaniards setting off on the perilous and naive voyage for riches in the New World; completely oblivious to the events that await them and the natives.
The audience seemed to really enjoy the work; with its inappropriate joyfulness and dark subtext. I’m very grateful that it was so well-received, and I’m even more excited now about finishing the other movements I’ve sketched out, as soon as I get some more time and knowledge. Until then…Thomas
Footage from a concert I gave this summer in Philadelphia at the Church of the Holy Trinity. One of my favorite pieces for guitar: the prelude from Federico Mompou’s Suite Compostelana.
This past week was action-packed and had us doing concerts in White Plains NY, NYC, and New Haven CT. We had a really good time and met some wonderful musicians. We got to play a double concerto to raise funds for the homeless with the good folks at the Hamden Symphony, perform in the beautiful space of the Downtown at Grace Episcopal Church concert series, and we met some incredibly talented folks when we played at a Juilliard showcase at the Gerswhin Hotel.
The last concert was particularly fun for us because we got to meet up with our dear friend and composer Ray Lustig prior to performing his amazing piece Figments. If there is any place in the US where amazing new classical music is being performed I would definitely have to say the Gerswhin Hotel is surely becoming it.
Next up, we’re heading out to Ohio to play a recital and perform the Vivaldi double concerto with string quartet. It should be a good time and we’ll hopefully have some updates for the blog after the March 20th concert. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions with us via e-mail and maybe we can post responses here. Stay tuned… (hanging out after playing at the Gerswhin—>)