Part one of this interview can be found here.
What are your top three tips for practicing or performance?
- Play slower than you think you should – this applies to both practice and performance. Practice slow enough for you to be on top of what you want your hands to do. Perform slower than you think you should because adrenaline/excitement/nervousness causes you to speed up uncontrollably.
- Let go of your mistakes and don’t scold yourself in public for any mistakes made. Address any issues/mistakes in the practice room alone or with your teacher.
- Don’t lose sight of what made you want to play guitar in the first place and always refer to the feeling of your first guitar achievement when things are going tough.
Can you tell us a bit about your CD, A Journey through 10 Strings?
It’s my latest CD which in my mind reflects my own journey with the instrument.
It starts off with 2 Weiss pieces: the well-known Fantasia, which I play in Dm, paired with a little-known Allegro, also in Dm.
The next cuts are a set of Filipino pieces, which are representative of where I am from. The first in the set, “Prelude Etnika”, is inspired by the music of Northern Philippines. The next 2 pieces are art songs: “Hatinggabi” (Midnight) and “Dahil sa isang bulaklak” (Because of a flower), and they represent the cosmopolitan area. The set is closed with “Tocatta” which is inspired by the music of the predominantly Muslim Southern Philippines.
“Sylph Dance” is a 5 movement suite written for and dedicated to me by English composer Rohan Leach. It’s a wonderful and engaging work that not only explores the 10-string’s range but its wonderful resonance as well.
The CD is closed “Canco Trista” by Paco Talarn, whose music I found at Delcamp’s guitar forum. I was really taken by this piece and the story behind it that I played it daily for a couple of months and literally played nothing else! With Paco’s blessing I adapted it to 10-strings by lowering some bass notes and subtly altering some of the voice movements.
The Weiss pieces are a nod to the 10-string’s cousin, the lute. The Filipino pieces are a nod to where I am from. Together my instrument and I engage the future with new music (Sylph Dance) and our own versions of existing guitar music (Canco Trista).
You’ve appeared as a guest artist on more than a few albums as well. How does that work? Do you just show up and read something then be on your way?
For the most part, whoever invited me to guest on their recording already know what I’m capable of. So instead having me come in and read off a sheet, I’m usually given free creative reign to come up with my own parts to compliment the song. I do get a little more involved and ask what the ideas behind the song are and what kind of sound they’re shooting for. From there, I listen to the track and put my own spin on things. Sometimes I hear the parts in my head immediately, other times I improvise a little bit before coming up with specific parts.
Any big plans in the works? What’s on your plate?
I’m preparing to record my next CD, which I hope to release in the Spring. It will feature my own editions of standard CG repertoire expanded to 10-string.
I also have another CD project in mind that will feature easy to moderate CG pieces which I will play on 6-string, a wonderful Torres copy by the Danish luthier Kenneth Brogger. My aim for this recording is to provide a good reference for CG beginners as they start diving into the repertoire.
I will be touring SE Asia in the summer. If all works out I will be in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore. I will post details on my website’s News section when I get them.
I’m waiting to receive some new works for 10-string, I’m particularly excited by a piece that Andrew York is currently writing for me. These pieces will eventually be recorded for an all-new 10 String Music CD for release next year.
That’s awesome that York is writing a piece for you! How did you get linked up with composers who have written things for you?
Well, composers are always looking for people to play their music. The internet helps a lot as well, I’ve gotten emails from composers who think their music might fit my playing, and I’ve also done my share of soliciting new works.
In the case of Andrew York, I was at the right place at the right time… we met at Los Angeles Classical Guitars and during our conversation I threw out the idea of him writing for the 10-string…. which he found interesting, so we started corresponding.
Did you take any active role in their composition, work closely with the composers, etc?
Well, I like being surprised by the music and it’s always an adventure diving into a newly written piece.
For composers not familiar with the guitar, I just give them my range and let them write whatever they want. I actually find this quite exciting because they tend to write stuff that’s not usually done on guitar and it becomes my challenge to make it all work. I tend to discover new techniques/approaches that way.
For guitar composers, they pretty much know what they want and they almost always indicate it on the score. For those not familiar with 10-string, I may offer up suggestions on how to make certain passages fit better.
For Andrew, I loaned him a 10-string to help him write the piece. I also went to his house and played a couple of things just so he can see what things are possible playing-wise…. now that’s a nerve-wracking experience! Playing for one of your heroes in his home knowing that he’s keenly watching your every move! When he’s finished writing, we’ll get together once more and discuss the piece so I’ll get some more insight behind the music.
I let new music sit and simmer for awhile before I perform it in public. And I usually record practice takes so I can get feedback from the composer in fine tuning my interpretation.
Any other future plans?
Future plans include shooting a performance DVD which will include a short instructional section on getting started with 10 strings. Publishing my 10-string arrangements, perhaps publish a method book as well.
So many plans, so little time! I’ll keep chipping away at them and eventually everything be realized.
Thanks for having me on the Classical Guitar Blog, Chris! I wish you and your readers all the best!
Big THANKS to Perf for the great interview!