Adrian Verdejo: a digital solo guitar recital

Living in a culturally rich and diverse community has been on its own a great source of inspiration says Adrian Verdejo | Photo by Daniel Ha

Vancouver New Music (VNM) presents an online concert of works for solo guitar performed by Adrian Verdejo, Vancouver-based contemporary guitarist, streaming Feb. 20 to 28, 2021. A recorded sequence concert adapted and reimagined from a live performance scheduled last May but postponed because of the pandemic, the concert will showcase the works for solo classical and electric guitar Verdejo has commissioned, interwoven with his own compositions using various instruments, electronics and processed sounds.

The program includes works by Rodney Sharman (For Guitar), Diego Lozano Verduzco (Cáscara), Wolf Man Edwards (Chains), Peter Hannan (Punkt not punked) and Julia Mermelstein (Falling (into the unknown)). The pieces by Edwards and Hannan are world premieres commissioned by Verdejo.

The making of a guitarist

Born into a musical family in Saskatchewan, Verdejo had a piano foundation before taking guitar lessons. Under the influence of the popular rock guitar in the 80s, he started with an electric guitar, then a steel string acoustic and eventually fell in love with the classical guitar when he was around 16.

Verdejo first moved to B.C. to study and pursue a professional career in guitar. He says the stunning nature and cultural diversity of the province fuels his creative imagination.

“The ocean still has a strong sense of like, the natural phenomenon, you know, because we’re landlocked,” says Verdejo. “Living in a culturally rich and diverse community has been, on its own, a great source of inspiration – just the sheer amount of interesting creative people that are here.”

Resurfacing the internal dialogue

A notable aspect of the digital concert is that it highlights internal elements, says Verdejo.

“If there’s a theme, perhaps in the idea of solo guitar, you know, and a soloist being, in his home, with his instruments in isolation – that is sort of pervasive, and probably unnoticed, because that’s the reality that everybody has encountered in the last year,” he adds.

Some pieces to be presented, originally commissioned without the foresight of the pandemic, become potentially more relevant in their meanings within the context of social distancing.

Cáscara, 2015, by Verduzco explores inner spatiality created by sounds in a humorous and playful way.

“In the idea of short movements, representing different rooms in his house and he had essentially recorded the sound of, you know, creaking doors and sinks and water and mix them together in a really elaborate kind of beautiful way,” Verdejo explains. “The nuances of the sounds are much more, in a way, familiar to me as well. The home is kind of like an enclosure of the psychological space.”

Embracing digital projects

Verdejo beleives that a digital recital has a few positive aspects over a live performance. Not only is it free of technical issues and distractions, but it is also a liberating format where you can curate all elements of the video concert.

“There is a sort of outdated model to add in the transitions between pieces. Even the formality of applause, I think, sometimes can break the spell of the creation of the artist in a certain sense. You’ll have full use of the transitions, because every piece has a pretty different instrumental setup.”

The musician is currently developing recording projects that will come out at the end of this year or early next year. He plans to release collected chamber works on a vinyl record with Edwards. In the short term, he is producing contemporary solo classical guitar works by some Canadian and Mexican composers, as a companion to his previous electric guitar albums. Verdejo is also working on some video recording projects with Canadian flutist Mark Takeshi McGregor.

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