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Lecture - Katalin Koltai

Out of the Canon - Reaching out for Ravel, Bartok and Ligeti Through New Innovation

Katalin Koltai



PhD research, supervised by Prof. Steve Goss and based at the International Guitar Research Centre | University of Surrey, focuses on expanding the boundaries of the idiom of the classical guitar through advanced arrangements, the invention of new capodasters, and collaboration with composers. An island in the field of classical music, the guitar‚ repertoire inhabits a solitary poetic world. Barring a few original compositions by major composers of the classical canon, the original repertoire is composed by so distant, guitarist composers. Transcription is a window of opportunity to link the guitar with music by other composers, for it to join a wider musical circle, and develop new approaches to the instrument. Transcribing is a multidimensional praxis. Some of the compositional and philosophical issues that arose while transcribing piano music by Ravel: transmitting the original essence; choreographing the new medium; exploring the resistance of the instrument: Maurice Ravel: Oiseaux tristes (Miroirs)* On the journey of Western classical music towards equalizing the 12 notes, the guitar fell behind. Twentieth century music dashed along with new compositional techniques, such as bitonality, multi-tonality, dodecaphony, serialism, cluster, pitch set technique etc. New tools and techniques offer a new range of possibilities for the guitar to follow this evolution. Katalin is inventing special single-string and partial capodasters and experimenting with combinations with unusual scordaturas. The first prototype came out in 2017, it enabled clusters on the guitar, as well as multi-layer structures with a pedalled harmonic atmosphere: Bella Bartok: The Nights Music (Out of Doors)* Experimental techniques can fill linguistic gaps, and experientially transform stereotypes about the instrument, opening paths towards new music: György Ligeti: Musica ricercata movement 1 and 2* *works transcribed by Katalin Koltai.



Katalin Koltai is an internationally acclaimed guitarist, soloist, and chamber musician, performing regularly with major orchestras and constant champion of contemporary music, creating interdisciplinary stage works and transcriptions, she records for North/South Recordings, Naxos, Hungaroton and Genuin. Her transcriptions from various musical eras have been published by Doblinger Austria, and received international critical acclaim, notably from Classical Guitar Magazine and Gendai Magazine.

Katalin gained degrees from the Budapest Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, Royal Conservatory of Bruxelles, and the Conservatorium Maastricht, taught by József Eötvös, Antigoni Goni, Raphaella Smits, Carlo Marchione, and José María Gallardo Del Rey.

She is a PhD researcher at the International Guitar Research Centre, University of Surrey since Fall 2018, focuses on guitar transcription and new music for guitar supervised by Steve Goss and Tom Armstrong. Currently a FASS Scholarship Holder, Katalin is a former fellow of the Dutch Cultural Ministry and winner of the Hungarian Junior Prima Prize.

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