Chad Ibison in Fort Worth, Texas [Concert Review]

Sunday (1/30/2011) the Fort Worth Guitar Guild hosted guitarist Chad Ibison. I’d heard of Chad before; he competed and placed at the First Annual APSU Guitar Festival.

Color, Tempo, and Ponce

Ibison opened the concert with Sonata Romantica by Ponce.

One of the challenges of the guitar is using color in a way that’s both effective and musically sound. One of the things I enjoyed about Chad’s performance of the Romantica was his use of color to highlight sections and help convey phrase structure.

He also made effective use of ritardandi for the same purpose. Though I felt that there were times his performance lost a lot of forward momentum because there was a bit too much.

Dynamics and Rawsthorne

Ibison’s use of color carried over into his next piece, Elegy by Alan Rawsthorne.

First up, you can tell Chad loves this era and style of music; the energy and emotion were through the roof here. Elegy is an interesting piece. It begins with a very dark, emotional section. Then takes off into an incredibly intense, technical middle section, and finally returns to something more along the lines of the original mood.

Ibison was equally at home in the dark, moody sections and in the intense middle section. The fast bits were clean and precise, but still had a lot of the same shape and color that I liked so much in the Romantica.

Dowland & Voice Separation

Fantasie No. 71, attributed to John Dowland, came next. Chad did a great job handling the counterpoint in this one.

To my ear the Dowland didn’t have quite the unrestrained, well-developed interpretation as some of the other works on the program.


I heard Chad play the Ginastera Sonata last summer. He played it well then.

What I heard last Sunday at the library was a more free, better developed interpretation. All the good things I heard in Ibison’s playing earlier where here again. The same energy and emotion poured in Rawsthorne was present in Ginastera. It was a great performance: masterful phrasing combined with technical precision.

Wrap Up: Go See Chad Ibision

Ibison’s bio in the program opened with, “Chad Ibison is gaining attention throughout the United States as an emerging artist of great virtuosity.”

Normally when I read something like that my BS meter hits the red zone. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised: Ibison is indeed an emerging artist of great virtuosity.

He’s still a very young classical musician without the more mature interpretative skills of some of his other contemporaries. That said, Chad is a great player. Go see him if he comes to your area, and look for him to do some great things in the guitar world.


  • Jeff

    Chris, this a really good review.

    Writing a good review is really an art. Because it should show an interest in music and its important features: rhythm, structure, dynamics, phrasing, articulation, counterpoint; also underlining things with descriptive words: “very dark, emotional section. Then takes off into an incredibly intense, technical middle section”

    Reviews should not shower the player with praise, ending up with a review that doesn’t really say anything at all. Unfortunately that happens all to often…
    But not here

    This review is really good and gets my thumbs up. What a joy to read. One can even learn something by just reading it.

    • Christopher Davis

      Thanks, Jeff, glad you like it! Writing reviews is not something I really enjoy doing, but they’re important. And since very few newspapers or other traditional sources are going to pay attention to classical guitar concerts (unless its Jason Vieaux or someone else equally famous), someone has to do it.

  • Jeff

    PS: Pitty that some guys over at that one guitar forum, are sometimes absolute destroyers of good reviews… thinking it correct to mute and criticize individual’s opinions of artists (particularly if it these opinions happens to be somewhat negative…)

    Poor Denian makes some very good points at “Topic: Jorge Caballero Video”, and all of a sudden you see people jumping around like offended little kids, criticizing him simply because his opinions don’t correspond to their world-view. Sad world…