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Remembering John Sutherland

Posted By Connie Sheu, Friday, October 10, 2014

By Nic Deuson 

On a day cut like a diamond, the sky a robin's egg blue, hemmed in by clouds hammered soft white in a light clear as fast water, we took the news of Maestro John Sutherland. Charismatic, iconic, and ferociously passionate about the development of the guitar, he left a legacy of thousands of students when he passed away early October 4th, 2014. He was a man of wit, intelligence, great musicality, emotional sensitivity and tremendous kindness, who cared enough for his students to demand of them their full potential, and was fearless in doing so. Beyond their musical development, his investment in their personal development rings just as true and poignant.

Maestro Sutherland taught throughout the state of Georgia, was declared the “Dean of Guitarists” by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and was central to the canonization of the guitar in the Southeastern United States, as well as beyond. His formation came much in the way the guitar did in the US, with a series of prestigious masterclasses and private studies; studying with Andrés Segovia, Christopher Parkening, John Marlow, José Tomás, and Evangelos Assimakopoulous. He later internalized and professed these learnings into a distinct and refined pedagogy. After retiring from the stage, Maestro Sutherland taught at Georgia’s flagship school, The University of Georgia, for forty years, where, at the time of his passing, he was an emeritus professor. He was a lion in the teaching studio, passionate and animated, ranging a full compass of emotions and advice through stories, proverbs, and truisms that have, and will continue to, nurture his students. In his teaching there was a clear distillation of the ideal: that just beyond our human vessel, our human failings, there was a music that could shape our best intentions - the sincere, the profound, the divine. That through the guitar, music could be the color of the day of his passing; clear, inspiring, transcendent. But most importantly, through the guitar, his students might grasp the ideal of the their own personal cultivation: a capacity for kindness, patience, equanimity, and a willingness to pay the price we must all pay to bestow compassion, to name but a few.

Thank you, John, and “may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

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Remembering Manuel Velazquez

Posted By Connie Sheu, Monday, April 7, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014

To all friends, colleagues and admirers of Velazquez guitars,

It is with great sadness to inform the world that Maestro Luthier Manuel Velazquez, born on Tuesday, February, 20 of 1917, has passed away on Thursday, April 4th of 2014 at 11:20am at the age of 97 years old.

We, the Velazquez family are deeply saddened for our loss of our patriarch who lovingly cared for us. However, we are very grateful that he passed away in the comfort and peace of his home and around his family. As a man of humble origins, he requested for a simple cremation and small memorial service within the family. We hope in the near future to make adequate preparations for a guitar concert in memory of his life’s work. 

We wish to thank all of his friends, colleagues and admirers for the wonderful recognitions and acknowledgements of his charming personality and dedicated artistry through his guitars. His wishes were always to be remembered as a simple man with a great love of the classical guitar. His passion will always be an inspiration not only for us, but for the whole music world who has heard or yet to hear of his instruments and great feats as a person.

Thank you for everyone's outpour of condolences during this time while we mourn and reflect from his wonderful and historical influence through his instruments.

On behalf of the Velazquez family,
Alfredo Velazquez

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Remembering Jovan Jovičić (1926-2013)

Posted By Connie Sheu, Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jovan Jovičić (1926-2013)

by Uroš Dojčinović

Dr. Jovan Jovičić, Serbian physicist and musician, was without any doubt among the greatest ex-Yugoslav guitar pioneers of the twentieth century. Thanks to him, a large part of the creative and interpretive music work being done today in these Balkan area is focused on the expressive possibilities of the classic guitar. On the 26th of September this great artist and scientist moved onto eternity.

Jovan Jovičić was born on July 5, 1926, in Vrdnik, a little town in Vojvodina, in the northern part of Serbia. His parents helped with his musical education in his early childhood when Jovan first started to play the violin. But like many others, young Jovičić soon changed his attention to the guitar, which was very popular in those times. He attended public schools and finally became a professor of physics at the University of Belgrade. Nevertheless, his love for the guitar was so great that through his talent and constant practicing, he managed to teach himself to play this instrument very well, at the beginning using an old Carulli guitar method, the only didactic publication he could find. Then, at the end of sixties, he joined the master classses of Andres Segovia, at the famous Chigiana Music Academy in Siena (Italy). In 1961 he completed his studies with maestro Segovia, who predicted an extraordinary success for Jovičić, both in his concert career and his musical profession in general. Holding a Ph.D in physics, Jovan Jovičić later published many scientific works, some related especially to the acoustic properties of the guitar affecting the resonance and tone of the instrument. One interesting result of these studies can be read in the notable Acustica magazine (No.18, 1967: J. Jovičić "Spectres sonores de la guitare de concert”; also used in John Taylor’s book "Tone Production on the Classical Guitar”, Musical New Services, London,1978), where he reports the results of his comparison of guitars of different makes, different soundboard materials, etc.

Jovičić’s concert activity began in 1948 by giving the first live concerts at Radio Dubrovnik and Radio Belgrade. Those were the first productions in our country in which the guitar was introduced as a real solo classical instrument. The repertoire Jovičić performed in those live broadcastings covered the large range of the guitar pieces, from the Renaissance and Baroque up to contemporary compositions. So from 1948 he was already an established soloist on radio and television in Belgrade, whose magnificent interpretations at that time could be even heard outside the country. In 1957 Jovičić was the laureate of the international youth competition in Moscow, and after winning the Silver medal he continued to give recitals and broadcasts in many countries.

The first international tours included Greece (1954), West Germany, Belgium and Italy (1955), France (1956), Egypt (1959), Romania (1964), Hungary and Poland (1965), and so on... During his active performing career, Jovičić gave over 2500 concerts throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, and played in almost every Yugoslavian city. Especially in Sixties and Seventies the enchanting sounds of his guitar were unanimously greeted by stormy applause and endless encores in crowded halls such as the Tchaikovsky and Glinka grand halls in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Dvorak hall in Prague, Franz Liszt hall in Budapest, Centre Chaillot in Paris, Artists home in Granada, Salon de Actos in Barcelona, etc.

However he aroused interest not only as a performer, but also as a composer. A supreme connoisseur of folkloric music, he enriched his repertoir with many artistically stylized compositions based on traditional themes. Inspired by folk songs and dances, Jovičić composed over 100 different guitar works, among which the first published outside Yugoslavia was in 1950 his "Balkan Dance” and "Concert Etude” prented by Broekmans & Van Pope in Holland, and some years later his "Macedonian Rhapsody” in the Ukraine. Not so long ago Jovičić’s selected concert works were presented in a publication which the author of these lines edited for Mel Bay publications in the USA, and in a collected six-volume set of Guitar Compositions from Yugoslavia, issued by Syukhtun Editions in Sweden..

The largest part of Jovičić’s opus was published in Serbia by the publishing company Nota Knjaževac, among which it is important to mention his School of the Guitar in five volumes (the first was issued in 1969). Another notable feature of his activity is his writing of music for radio and television plays, theatre and films, for which he won a number of prizes. He composed and performed music for 68 dramas, and 40 movies, among which, "Comrades”, "Bride of Adriatic”, and "Spain, the Land of My Youth”, won first prizes in Brussels (1958), Paris (1960), Dijon (1960), and Leipzig (1960), and at the International Contest of Radio-Dramas in Rome, Italy (1958), he obtained the Prix Italia for the music composed for the play "The Bird”. He has also recorded for several gramophone companies in Serbia, Croatia, Russia, Spain and the USA.

It is especially to Jovičić’s credit that in the course of his more than 50 years long artistic activity, the guitar has attained a place of honor in the concert halls of the former Yugoslavia, were it has been accepted as a classical instrument. Also as the result of his entire pedagogical activity a regular tuition of the classical guitar was introduced in music schools in former Yugoslavia, as well as at the Faculty of Music Arts.

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Remembering José Madrigal

Posted By Connie Sheu, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

José Madrigal (1918-2013)

A living icon of guitar music in the Cincinnati area passed away on August 25, 2013.

José Madrigal was born in Michoacán, Mexico in 1918. A few years later, his family crossed the border seeking work and relief from civil war. They eventually settled in Blue Rock, Illinois (just south of Chicago), where José's father worked for the railroad. His mother died when José was around 11. While raising his younger siblings, he began playing a discarded guitar and soon found himself making more money for a single gig than his father could make in a week.

After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, José enlisted in the army and fought bravely in Germany, winning several medals and US citizenship. His ability to master several languages, including German, became a useful skill, and he was often called upon to act as translator with POWs. After the war he found work playing guitar, and resumed his education, receiving a college degree in International Trade. Emulating Django Rinehardt and Chet Atkins, José listened to country western music and jazz standards on the radio, and soon became known by his many fans as "Country Joe". He also began exploring his musical heritage, following Andrés Segovia, and learning Spanish.

José soon found work in Ohio providing live music at radio station WHIO in Dayton. He married, raised several children, and joined the faculty at Northern Kentucky University. He retired in the early 90s, spending his later years teaching, building guitars, performing in a variety of styles and venues, and inspiring everyone whose life he touched with his music, and his indomitable, gentle spirit.

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Remembering Rick Gartner

Posted By Connie Sheu, Thursday, June 27, 2013

A founding editor of Frets Magazine (a sister publication of Guitar Player), where he worked from 1978 to 1986, Rick Gartner was especially known for his insightful interviews with classical guitarists, including Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream, John Williams, Narciso Yepes, and Christopher Parkening.

Born on 3 December 1950, Rick began playing when he was 14. Before landing the Frets job in 1978, which enabled him to bring his deep love for classical guitar to a large audience, he had graduated from California State University, Chico (1978), and taught guitar at nearby Butte Community College (1973 to 1978). In recent years, he had worked on a book concerning his decades-long battle with chronic back and neck pain.

His suffering ended on 16 May 2013, when he died of natural causes at the age of 62, taking with him the rare ability to understand things that he did not directly experience, including aspects of music. It recalls the quote by Leo Tolstoy, ‘All, everything that I understand, I understand because I love’.

Rick was a talented guitarist, gifted writer, and good friend to many. It was an honor to know him.

-Jim Ferguson

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Remembering John W. Tanno

Posted By Connie Sheu, Thursday, February 21, 2013
John W. Tanno passed away February 15, 2013 at his home in Sacramento, CA. He was 73 years old.

John had a long and distinguished career as a University Librarian at UC Riverside from 1970-2002 and then at UC Davis from 2002 until his retirement in 2006. He was also very active in the Music Department at UCR and taught a Music Bibliography course for 28 years. His love of music stands out as an important part of his life both personally and professionally. He earned his Masters in Music from USC. Among other publications, he wrote two regular columns, "The Guitarist’s Bookshelf,” an annual column appearing in Guitar Review, and "Current Discography” for Soundboard, where he also served as editor from 1976-1980.

He had a particular passion for classical and flamenco guitar. His proficiency as a both a player and a scholar was noted by all who knew him. He would often treat friends and family to a living room performance, an event enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

John’s had a lifetime love affair with books. He took great joy in acquiring new books, whether on or his local used bookstore. He was always happy to discuss his latest read.

He soaked up culture and loved museums, theatre, concerts and film, all of which he sought out while pursuing another great love: travel.

John had a wonderful zest for life and his greatest passion was for his family. He is survived by his loving daughters, Maria-Elena Kinzer and Luisa Tanno, his sister Joyce Hansen, his grandchildren Dylan, Owen and Finley Kinzer, and many dear nieces and nephews.
He did not wish for a memorial service. For those who would like to make a donation in his memory, his family suggests The California State Parks Foundation or The Prostate Cancer Foundation.

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Remembering John Gilbert

Posted By Connie Sheu, Monday, March 5, 2012

With great sadness we report the sudden passing of the eminent luthier, John Gilbert, on February 23, 2012 at his home in Woodside, California. John was recognized by the Guitar Foundation of America with the Industry Leadership Award at the 2010 GFA Festival in Austin, Texas. He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Alice, daughters, Jane, Valerie, Linda and a son, William. Another daughter, Eileen, an artist, passed away in 2003.

As a self-taught luthier who built his first instrument in 1965, John retired as the Chief Tool Engineer for Hewlett-Packard in 1974 to build guitars full time. Gilbert Guitars ushered in a new era of instruments with their great tonal clarity, ability to project in large halls, and distinctive design. Receiving a U.S. Patent for his tuning machine design, John began production of the Gilbert Tuners in 1990, which are now made exclusively by his son-in-law, Greg Matonis, who also trained as a machinist. In addition, John was a mentor to many of the current generation of luthiers, notably his son, William, who carries on the legacy of his father’s approach and design.

A more thorough chronicle of John and his work will appear in the next issue of Soundboard. A memorial service will be held on March 10, 1:30 PM at St. Denis Church, 2250 Avy Ave, Menlo Park, CA and details on a Celebration of Life event are forthcoming.

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Remembering Sabine Madriguera

Posted By Connie Sheu, Thursday, February 23, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Texas-based guitarist and professor Sabine Madriguera passed away on February 22, 2012 after a courageous two-year battle with cancer.

Sabine was an integral part of the guitar world in both her Texan community and the international GFA network. Born in Berlin, Germany, Sabine held a master’s degree from the Hochschule fuer Musik "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin. She was the Director of Guitar Studies at Collin College in Plano, Texas. Sabine was a dedicated pedagogue, and her student ensembles were awarded first prizes in the competition at the UT Brownsville Guitar Ensemble Festival and Competition. A tireless advocate for guitar youth education, Sabine created the first Youth Division for the Texas Annual Guitar Competition at UT Dallas in 2010. She was also a member of the Advisory Board to the Allegro Guitar Society and was the first director of the Guitar Orchestra for Cross Timbers Youth Orchestra (CTYO).  

In 1996, Duo Madriguera was formed together with her husband Enric. The duo enjoyed an active regional and international performance schedule and was featured at international festivals. They released their first CD on the Plano based Encore label. In 2009 the duo embarked on a four-city tour of Peru co-sponsored by Partners of the Americas and the U.S. Embassy. More recently, Sabine was a founding member of the Presti Quartet, the first all female guitar ensemble in the US.

Sabine previously served as a juror for the GFA International Concert Artist Competition and will be missed by GFA staff and members alike. A press release about her passing can be found on the Collin College website.

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