The Musical Secrecy of the Guitar Unlocked Svoboda/Benedetti/Barek&Beautiful Kaya
January 28, 2019
Guitar! Perhaps the most familiar and the most famous household-name instrument of all. After all, who did not measure musicality on the guitar? Perhaps all of us did.
Since the very first known guitarist Harmose, working for a music loving Set-Mu, an architect of an Egyptian faraoness Hatsepsut in 1500 BC, we have been mastering this instrument for three and half milenia. This past Saturday we saw a performance of four guitarists who unlocked for us, with bravura, passion and sensitivities, the hidden musical secrets of the guitar. It was a memorable, beautiful, dynamic, moving and intriguing performance enjoyed by the sold out Point Loma Assembly audience.
The duo George Svoboda and Fred Benedetti were opening the concert at the Assembly, perhaps the most pleasant venue in town for a musical intimate adventure. I think that all of us easily fell in love with that arts&craft over a century old cozy concert hall featuring a dome, a fireplace, beautiful oversize stain glass window, and an appealing round-arched stage adorned with a heavy, richly folded green velvet curtains. We are all indebted to a Point Loma inspiration Dottie Laub who initiated and lead a restoration and preservation of this hidden secret venue.
And the evening starts, the host (that would be me!) welcomes the crowd, and as always, as the format of the concerts calls for, offers stories behind the presented music. Perhaps, the most popular story shared that evening was about Vivaldi's music lost to the world for 200 years since his death in 1741.
If you are interested in the fascinating journey of his lost work, it is at the end of this blog post!
And here is the music performed by the mentioned Svoboda/Benedetti accomplished virtuosic duo: from a
Baroque concerto (Vivaldi) to sensuous heartfelt classical pieces (Rodrigo), to tango (Piazzolla), Spanish rhythms (Benedetti, Campos) to ethnic extravaganzas (Jovicic, Svoboda), this well-known San Diego duo shows
virtuosity, versatility, passion and especially a deep feel for each piece. They have a wonderful presence on the stage, a great dynamics between themselves, a big dose of sense of humor and a wonderful connection with the audience. George is originally from the Czech Republic, Fred from Japan and once their path met in San Diego about 25 years ago, they keep striking the strings together ever since. Both are composers, both sought-after professors of guitar, both collaborating with all important musical institutions in town, both sharing stage with the stars of the music scenes, both recorded many albums. Their technical command is coupled with a great spirit and so the academic precision is shrouded in a soul of each piece, and once a swift rhythm sets in, the performance is dynamic, riveting, explosive!
The second half introduces two guests from the Czech Republic. An excellent instrumentalist, arranger,
teacher, producer of successful international music festivals and singer Standa Barek offering his guitar arrangements of famous American tunes, Beatles songs and Czech ethnic songs; all in a pleasantly laidback fashion, but with an excellent command of his instrument. He easily put the audience at ease and many are humming and swaying in their seats. When beautiful Kaya (Karla Saladova) joins Standa Barek to sing Czech folk songs, something magical happens. Her pure, refine, a high yet strong gently projected voice floats above our heads and everyone shifts in the seat to have a better look. When Kaya starts her own segment of five original songs, she reads a note to an American audience in English about her dream coming true to sing in America and how fascinated she is with the landscape, the ocean and especially friendliness of Americans. It is a nice gentle touch, and her entire performance is exactly that: Gentle, pure, sincere, urgent yet not forceful. Kaya reads in English the synopsis of her original work and her Czech lyrics are extraordinary, it is beautiful poetry about various journeys, those physical ones and also those of our mind and soul. I think that there was not a soul in the audience that was not touched by her performance offering so much tenderness. The echoes of her beautiful voice were soaring gently below the ceiling even after she finished.
It was a beautiful evening. The audience was extraordinary and set a wonderful tone to this beautiful musical happening in Point Loma. The more we explore art together, the better off and happier we will be as it is art that so beautifully maps our soul.
Thank you, and perhaps some of you will come for our next engagement on February 28, 2019.
With Vivaldi's death in 1741, his music disappeared and was not publicly heard till two hundred years later.
Antonio Vivaldi's manuscripts were bought by a count Durazzo, an ambassador to Venice, in 1770. It stayed in the Durazzo family possession for 150 years, but the family was not interested in producing Vivaldi's music,
and his name fell out from the music annals completely. Count Durazzo passed his manuscripts to his two brothers, they passed it on to their sons. One of them, Marcel Durazzo, donated upon his death in 1922 the manuscripts to a monastery San Carlo Salesian in Monferrato near Turin. The monastery decided in 1926 to sell the collection. The monks contacted the National Library in Turin to assess the value; the library approached a head of the music department of the University in Turin dr. Gentili to help. He immediately saw what we know about Vivaldi today: The music is extraordinary. In his effort to save the manuscripts from the antique dealers, dr. Gentili found a benefactor, Roberto Feo, a Turin banker, who donated the money for the purchase of the manuscripts that will be displayed in the National Library in Turin in his son's name. After studying the collection closely, dr. Gentili quickly realized that many pieces are fragmented. After extensive research, he found out about the Durazzo's family original possession of Vivaldi's work and its division between two members of the family. After a complicated journey, he was successful in finding the living descendant of the family, Giuseppe Maria Durazzo of Genoa who had indeed the remainder of the collection!! Willing to sell for a large sum of money, he had an unfortunate and incomprehensible stipulation: Vivaldi's work will never be produced! (After a long litigation that stipulation was removed in 1938, but Durazzo was fighting it till his death! A mystery remains, why.) Again a benefactor was found, a textile Turinese magnate Filippo Giordano who offered to buy the manuscripts, and thus the collection became complete, residing till today in the National Library in Turin. But Vivaldi's work was still not much promoted. It had to come to two passionate Americans who organized the very first public production of Vivaldi music since his death. The event was the Vivaldi Festival Week, set for September 16-21, 1939 in Sienna. The producers were American poet Ezra Pound and his talented dynamic capable partner, musician, musicologist and an excellent producer, also American, Olga Rudge. What a deed it was and how grateful we are to them. At last! After two centuries, Vivaldi's music was heard and admired. Even though his music started being popular not till the end of the World War II., we made up for the two centuries absence! By today, we have over 2,000 Vivaldi's recordings and there is not a moment around the world without a sound of Vivaldi's glorious music in any given time. Thus ends a story about one of the most beloved composers of our time.