Guitarist Jason Vieaux and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra will explore the lyrical music of 11th century French poet-musicians at Friday's RiverCenter concert by performing John Corigliano's "Troubadours: Variations for Guitar and Orchestra."
"It takes listeners back to a time before the renaissance... The whole piece is like drifting off to sleep to this middle ages world. The guitar appears from nothing, an entrance from silence," guest artist Vieaux said.
He's played the piece several times over the past 10 years and described the music as having a "transformative power."
The work pays homage to troubadours, who traveled from town to town during the middle ages performing their musical poetry and offering listeners a glimpse into other cultures.
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"They were real humanists. They expressed the human condition. This music is telling a great story," Vieaux said.
American composer John Corigliano wrote "Troubadours" in 1993.
The program also includes Rossini's Overture to L'Italiana in Algeri and Poulenc's Sinfonietta.
"The Rossini and the Poulenc are delightfully song-like works that immediately draw the listener into their world of high spirits and beautiful melodies," George Del Gobbo, CSO music director and conductor, said in a news release.
Vieaux, the head of the guitar department at the Cleveland Institute of Music since 2001, and co-founder of the classical guitar department at the Curtis Institute of Music, is passionate about performing and teaching.
Thanks to modern technology and ArtistWorks, an online musical teaching site, instructors such as Vieaux can teach student musicians anywhere in the world. Instructors post video lessons online for students to follow and students can post videos for their instructors to critique.
"It's easy to manage around a touring schedule and offers regular interaction between myself and students," Vieaux said.
He doesn't think such efforts can take the place of traditional music schooling but he's glad that students have an opportunity to learn from the best musicians in their field regardless of geography.
When Vieaux isn't practicing, rehearsing, teaching or performing, he's likely listening to music with his fiancee who is finishing work on her biology degree.
"We enjoy food, wine, art and music. Great music. The genre doesn't really matter," he said.
Favorite artists include Jay-Z, Eminem, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Herbie Hancock.
"I just like to hear good music being played well by good musicians," he said.
He often listens to music from The Strokes and Bruno Mars and he lists the Beatles as his all-time favorite group followed closely by The Police.
Fond childhood memories of growing up in Buffalo, NY, include listening to his mom's soul and R&B records.
He was around 7 years old when he started playing classical guitar. He said he just wanted to learn, and there wasn't any family pressure to become a musician. Although his family appreciated music, there weren't any music prodigies in the Vieaux family.
"I come from long line of coal and factory workers," Vieaux said.