The University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra wraps up its season April 25 with the Brasil Guitar Duo performing the U.S. premiere of a work written especially for them.
Composer Paulo Bellinati, a well-known guitarist himself, wrote the Concerto for Two Guitars for the duo. It was premiered last summer with the Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo in Brazil and the Thursday night concert at the Koger Center will be the first time it has been performed in the United States.
Bellinati draws on Brazil’s rich musical heritage, adapting traditional forms and styles, but also infusing them with contemporary techniques and harmonies.
“I decided to pay tribute to the country music of Sao Paulo State, which is traditionally played on the viola caipíra or Brazilian ten-string folk guitar, (but) I did not want my piece to merely reproduce the sounds of that music,” Bellinati said. “I wanted to create a concerto for modern Brazilian instruments that was inspired by those folk traditions.”
Duo members Joao Luiz and Douglas Lora had recorded two works by Bellinati and informally talked to him about writing a piece for them. Luiz happened to mention their interest to his friend Arthur Nestrovski, artistic director of the Orquestra Sinfonica.
“He told me ‘I think we can commission that for you,’” said Luiz. “It’s just not something we could have afforded to do on our own.
“It’s such an honor to have a concerto written by him. We admire him so much and he’s such a huge person in the guitar world.”
There are few works for guitar duo and orchestra – just a handful - so commissioning
new works helps build the repertoire.
“Having this piece allows us to do much more playing with orchestras,” Luiz said.
The composer is expected to attend the concert.
Like Bellinati, Luiz and Lora are from Sao Paulo. The two met when they were teenage guitar students and have been performing together for 17 years. Lora recently earned his master's degree at the University of Miami and Luiz is working toward his doctorate from Mannes College, The New School for Music in New York.
The duo won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and has been praised by Classical Guitar magazine for its "maturity of musicianship and technical virtuosity." The two are equally at home with classical music as with the rich guitar repertoire of South America. They’ve recorded the complete guitar duos by 20th century Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and the complete Bach flute sonatas with flutist Marina Piccinini. Luiz has arranged works by Bach, Scarlatti and Piazzolla for two guitars and Lora composes original pieces for the group.
The guitar duo and new concerto will be framed by works that also very much reflect
the land where they were created.
The concert opens with Bedrich Smetana’s The Moldau, named for the longest river in the composer’s native Czechoslovakia. The “symphonic poem” from 1875 is a musical portrait of the river from its source in forest streams to its majestic passage through Prague. The Moldau is the best-known portion of Smetana’s six-part Má vlast (My Homeland) that explores the history, legends and landscape of his homeland. Smetana is credited with creating a distinctive Czech music that drew on the folk music of the region.
Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi celebrates the city that the composer called home. It is part of his "Roman trilogy" comprised of Pines (1924), Fountains of Rome (1917) and Roman Festivals (1926). Each of the four movements focuses on different locations in Rome: Pines of the Villa Borghese, Pines Near a Catacomb, Pines of the Janiculum and Pines of the Appian Way. The first captures the sounds of children playing and laughing; the second moves to the shadowy catacombs with music based on chants; the next is set on a famous hill overlooking all of Rome with the moon rising; and in the final movement the historic glories of Roman are celebrated.
Brochures for the 2013 – 2014 season will be available at the concert and season subscription renewals can be made that night.
The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center for the Arts, 1015 Greene St. (Assembly and Greene streets) in Columbia. Tickets are $25, $20 for seniors and USC employees and $8 for students. For tickets call (803) 251-2222 or go to capitoltickets.com