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Interview with guitarist Brad Richter

Our Coro y Guitarra concerts on March 3-5, 2017 feature special guest, guitarist Brad Richter.

Hello, I am Kiana Jones, the new Marketing & Communications Intern for the Phoenix Chorale! My experience with the Chorale has been amazing so far- especially since I had the wonderful opportunity to interview our feautured world-renowned classical guitarist. 

Kiana: What do you love about classical guitar?

Brad: I love the guitar’s ability to create multi-voice textures and its ability to make a variety of unique sounds. It Sounds like more than one instrument playing at the same time.

Kiana: What are your thoughts about performing with the Phoenix Chorale?

Brad: Well first the level of musicianship. I know their work. I know their reputation. I am an avid player of chamber music and I feel like opportunities to work with groups on this level are inspiring. You galvanize yourself to step up to the challenge. Those things are really fun and it is inspiring to be pushed and to get excited about a project.

Kiana: Speaking in particular to the Romancero Gitano set-what are your thoughts on performing that piece?

Brad: I didn’t know the piece at all. I am surprised because I like it and felt disappointed I wasn’t drawn to it already. I think it’s Tedesco’s best work with guitar that I’ve played or heard. I think it’s really masterfully written. The guitar part is very difficult and complex, but it is because he really tried to do something musically with it. It stretches boundaries on which notes you can play at the same time and which notes you can’t. I like it. It is not stereotypical and I think it is a real masterpiece.

Kiana: What is your favorite song to play or your favorite work to perform?

Brad: The ‘Concierto de Aranjuez‘ by Joaquin Rodrigo. The middle movement of that is beautifully written and written in a way that avoids the guitar patterns. It doesn’t let the guitar get in the way.

Kiana: Is there any music you like to just listen to in general?

Brad: This is dorky and not very deep, but I’ve been really into listening to the Beatles later albums with my three sons when we are in the car. Right now, we are listening to Abbey Road over and over again. I am a big fan of any music that involves singers.

Kiana: What experience drove you to begin your non-profit program ‘Lead Guitar’?

Brad: There was a very clear idea of events-I had no idea to start Lead Guitar or something like it. I was playing a concert in Page, AZ and they asked me to visit Page High school, which at that time was almost entirely Navajo kids because it is right on the edge of the Reservation and they had said there are a bunch of great guitarist and that I should go see them. This is something as a guitarist that I would hear a lot and it would always turn out they really weren’t so good.

But it turns out, there were five or six kids that were really good, but one kid that was a brilliant player. He had taught himself classical guitar pieces by ear and by watching other people, but didn’t know how to read music and didn’t have any technique. They were a part of this music class where they had a teacher that was supposed to be teaching them, but really the teacher was planning lesson plans for other classes in the other room.

Lead Guitar started with me writing a curriculum for that teacher so that she would teach the kids how to really play classical guitar, how to read music, and how to play in an ensemble. Then, I just started going back every year and writing more curriculum and then it slowly turned into a program over the course of 17 years.

Kiana: What do you think are your greatest accomplishments so far?

Brad: Greatest accomplishment is starting ‘Lead Guitar’ and growing that into something that has impact on music education. As a performer, I find myself thinking about collaborating with other musicians that I admire. One that I’ve been doing a lot lately is my teacher, from the Royal College of Music, Carlos Bonell. My collaborations are real highlights. In the end, it is wonderful to make music and there is a selfish pleasure that the work is a little more impactful and helping in some small way.