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The Dartmouth
May 18, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Galbraith to bring revolutionary playing style to Rollins

With a unique eight-string guitar, cello-like playing position and transcription of traditional and famed classical music, Scottish born guitarist Paul Galbraith , has been revolutionizing classical music since 1989. Galbraith will make his Dartmouth debut this Sunday in Rollins Chapel. The performance will be followed by a spotlight discussion. His program includes works by Bach and Debussy.

Release of his 1998 CD, "Bach: The Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin" -- marked a new, dynamically interesting interpretation of conventional Bach. However, his amplified guitar echoes the wide range of Baroque lute, which Bach himself often transcribed into his music.

His album was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for best solo instrumental album. Gramophone Magazine, which dubbed the recording one of the two best CDs of 1998, labeled the album "A landmark in the history of guitar recording."

Of a recent performance, The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal wrote, that "Sitting in a shaft of light in a pitch-black concert hall, Galbraith glowed with dexterity and genius one of the premier living classic guitarists He chose for each note a particular dynamic and intention. His technique was simply awesome. An audience that sat rapt for two hours under Galbraith's spell demanded an encore."

When only 17 years old, Galbraith garnered his first public accolade in England by winning the silver medal at the Segovia International Guitar Competition. This award launched his international career through engagements with the Royal Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, BBC Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Orchestra, Scottish Baroque Orchestra and many others.

Since 1983, his principal teacher has been Greek conductor, pianist and philosopher George Hadjinikos. Galbraith first revealed his unprecedented playing position at the Edinburgh Festival in 1989. Designed in collaboration with luthier David Rubio, his guitar is equipped with two extra strings -- one high, one low -- is supported by a medal endpin like a cello and rests on a wooden resonance box to amplify the richly smooth, melodic sound.

However, it is not solely the guitar's revolutionary design that is considered to be groundbreaking. Galbraith's playing technique has reshaped the history of the guitar and its performance utilization, which has thus far enhanced the expressive range to an exceptional level.

The actual derivation of the "Brahms Guitar" comes from Galbraith's own arrangement of Brahms's Variations on an Original Theme Opus 21A for piano. Galbraith pondered increasing the range of the guitar, as he was worried by a particular incompleteness in the bass and the fact that his left hand was stretched to its limit for the majority of the piece. While not an innovative concept, as seven-string guitars have been used before, he incorporated eight strings to achieve a serene balance that would enhance the overall quality and richness of the tonality.

"Yet the clarity and strength of the instrument and playing are unmistakable. There is a noble austerity to Galbraith's intensely committed music making, limited in color and free of gimmicks. He deals with the sonata abstractions eloquently and delivers a fluid sense of kinetic spirits in the partite dances," raved the Los Angeles Times.

Paul Galbraith is truly an innovator in classical music and his performances on Sunday and Monday night should not be missed. They provide an opportunity for the Hanover community to catch a glimpse of one of today's most talented musicians.