The international chamber music festival welcomes back the Grammy Award winner.
If the thought of attending a chamber music concert seems intimidating, take refuge in the fact that renowned musician Jason Vieaux is bringing some elements that could make Sarasota’s chamber music festival more accessible.
The 2015 Grammy winner for Best Classical Instrument Solo plays seamlessly across genres, and he’s a virtuoso of an instrument more commonly related to modern music: the guitar.
But, he says, there’s something different that impacts the special moments musicians will create for audiences of the 32nd annual La Musica International Chamber Music Festival running April 7-18.
“I’m an idealist,” Vieaux says of connecting with modern audiences. “If you have the knowledge of how music is put together, and you have the ability to perform and really communicate that, you can communicate anything, and they can enjoy it. I don’t think that’s really changed that much in the last 100 years.”
La Musica is an 11-day celebration of chamber music that attracts musicians from around the world with four concerts and several related events, led by renowned Italian violist and conductor and Founder/Artistic Director Bruno Giuranna.
President Sally Faron says the festival was founded by Giuranna in 1987 after he performed in Sarasota and learned about the Historic Asolo Theater.
Giuranna is from Asolo, Italy, where the theater was originally constructed, so he decided to make a stronger musical connection between the two cities by starting a music festival that could be an extension of the Italian city’s annual festival.
The goal, Faron says, is to present chamber music of the highest quality. In the process, she adds that it’s an educational experience because many guests attend the open rehearsals to hear musicians interacting and learning from one another to improve — a concept that was largely unheard of when the festival started 32 years ago.
On April 15, Vieaux will join musicians Daniel Palmizio from Italy and Christine J. Lee from Korea in one example of this atmosphere of camaraderie to perform Niccolo Paganini’s Trio for Viola, Cello and Guitar, composed in 1833.
“In chamber music from the 19th century, the guitar is sort of in the role of a chordal pianist —they’re chopping chords, which in itself is an underrated skill,” he says.
But in this piece, he gets to show what makes Paganini’s compositions unique.
“I’m not only doing that, I’m also jumping off and getting some pretty snazzy solos, too. So, the virtuosity, sort of flash, that Paganini was so good at displaying with his musicians is really evident in this piece.”
Vieaux will also perform Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Quintet for Guitar and String Quartet, Op. 143 with Ruth Lenz, U.S.; Claudio Cruz, Brazil; Palmizio; and Erica Piccotti, Italy.
He says he’s grateful to be a representative for guitarists at any chamber music festival that wants to embrace the guitar repertoire.
“What’s special about La Musica is that the musicians are a really very high caliber of musician and virtuoso. They’re particularly attuned to good chamber music playing — so it’s always a wonderful experience.”
Vieaux has been developing a Sarasota audience for nearly 10 years. He recently performed a solo concert with GuitarSarasota that was sold-out. He says that shows the level of support for this music in Sarasota.
From his experience leading Jason Vieaux School of Classical Guitar, the guitarist has learned that good practice skills, an understanding of music theory and community events like La Musica are the keys to success for the next generation of musicians. And the key to a happy listening experience for guests.
“Some people look at going to music recitals as a dose of salt, it’s good for you,” Faron says. “This is good for your soul as well as your mind.”
Managing Editor of Arts & Entertainment Niki Kottmann contributed to this report.