Big Guitar Weekend

sean shibe pic 1.png

Royal Conservatoire Scotland
3rd November 2018

The spacious Stevenson Hall is the Royal Conservatoire’s main concert hall and feels like a sumptuous space with its rich red embroidered curtains and classic red seats, not to mention the beautiful pipe organ at the side of the stage. We filled the stalls, chatting about the performers and the evening of guitar music to come, the finale of the RCS’s successful Big Guitar Weekend 2018.

artis pic 1.pngThe first duo took to the stage; tenor voice, Ben Johnson with guitarist, Sean Shibe, and began with a piece by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976); “I will give my love an apple”. The carefully selected programme – 13 songs by 11 composers – ranged back in time to composer John Dowland (1563-1626); “Come again, Sweet love!” and included Britten’s “Master Kilby” and an anonymous piece “In love”, performed in six movements. The pair had carefully researched their music to put together a programme which made them happy. In some ways it was a modern take on the music, whilst written and performed in the vein of old time compositions.

RCS graduate and award-winning guitarist Sean Shibe. Photograph © Julie Howden, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.jpg

By the time we got to their final song, the culmination of the interplay and interdependence of the gentle tenor voice and the slight touch of guitar, playing for our ears and our very souls, was having a profound effect on the audience, who were silently transfixed. In the plethora of compositions, each composer was honoured – a definingly moving and emotionally caressing tribute to writers and performers.

In the second half of the evening, we were entertained by ‘Artist Gitarren Duo’ a duo formed by German guitarists Julia Zielinski and Christian Zielinski. The first piece, by Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759) was originally written for the harpsichord. But the 21 variations of the Chaconne in G, were played here to perfection on the two guitars, and provided a great cornerstone to the evening’s bespoke exploration of musical genres. A performance of El Amor Brujo by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) ended the evening perfectly.

This was a beautifully crafted evening where the two sets of musicians performed with great ease while triumphing over very complex compositions. In their hands it seemed that the beauty of guitar music had no limits – they all deserve high praise, well done! It was an experience I was glad to have witnessed and will take to heart.

Daniel Donnelly

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