Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Classical guitarist to bring holiday cheer at free library concert

(Originally published in the 11/3/15 edition)

   Christmas will come to the Benicia Public Library early this year, as the Dona Benicia Room will be filled with the classical guitar stylings of Peter Fletcher on Nov. 15.
   Of course, Benicia will be just one stop for the New York City-based classical guitarist who is doing a national tour to promote his new CD “Music for the Christmas Season.” Fletcher will be playing selections from his new album as well as works he has recorded in the past.
   Fletcher began studying guitar at the age of 7 under classical guitar instructor John Sutherland.
   “I was told that if I start with the classical style, then other styles would come easier,” Fletcher said. “I did some recordings and decided to stay with classical and have loved it ever since.”
   Fletcher has been performing professionally since the age of 15, and his journey has taken him to appearances on NPR and full houses at Carnegie Hall. 
   After being requested by fans, Fletcher finally decided to make a Christmas album. The CD features classical guitar arrangements of holiday standards like “Silent Night” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” as well as classical compositions associated with the season, like Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from “The Nutcracker.” Other highlights on the record include three pieces from Michael Praetorius’s “Terpsichore,” the traditional Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts,” and “Jubilation” by contemporary guitarist Andrew York.
   Fletcher has played at the Benicia Library before and has gained enough of a following in Benicia for Fran Martinez-Coyne to invite him to play again. 
   “We thought it was time for a return visit,” Fletcher said. 
   In addition to performing music from the CD, Fletcher will also be performing some of the selections he performed at Carnegie Hall last spring, like Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Prelude No. 1,” as well as selections from an album he did of recordings of compositions by Edvard Grieg. 
   There will be two different portions of the show where he uses two different guitars designed by Darren Hippner.
   “I use a spruce top for the first half of the concert and a cedar top for the second half,” he said. “The spruce top is more suited for the first half like Bach. The idea is that the clarity will bring out the texture of the music.”
   “The cedar has a warmer, sweeter, darker tone, which I feel is more suited for the Romantic tone, which I’ll play in the second half of the concert.”
   The Benicia Library is nowhere near as large as Carnegie Hall, but Fletcher says he has no preference between large and small venues.
   “I consider all performances equally important,” he said. “I have as much fun, and I try to play my best whether it’s a library or a larger venue.”
   That said, Fletcher does like the intimacy of the smaller performances. 
   “You have more options,” he said. “You can play more quietly and have a bit more range dynamically. With a larger hall, you can’t play as quiet.”
   Overall, Fletcher enjoys being able to create and share music.
   “I enjoy the practicing, the recording and the process of making something beautiful,” he said. “When you have a life in music, you get an education- not in the practical things of living, but an education in feeling and beauty and poetry.”

   The concert will take place at 6 p.m., Sunday Nov. 15, in the Dona Benicia Room of the Library, located on 150 East L St. The event is free and open to all ages. 

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