Before there was Eddie Van Halen or Jimi Hendrix, there was Matteo Carcassi and Jan Bobrowicz.
The latter Polish guitarist was particularly known for his flamboyant showmanship. During the mid-1800s, he was dubbed “the Chopin of guitar” for his jaw-dropping performances.
Compositions by both of these classical guitarists, as well as other works from the 1820s to the 1960s, will be on the program when Red Deer guitarist Shannon Frizzell performs on Sunday at the Margaret Parsons Theatre at Red Deer College.
The RDC music instructor said he respects contemporary rock guitarists — in fact he grew up as a fan of AC/DC and Metallica — but hopes his concert will stretch some people’s idea of what constitutes virtuosic guitar playing.
“Some of these are cool pieces, are fun to play, but they’ve never had much life,” in terms of modern concert hall mileage, said Frizzell.
He refers to Carlos Chavez’s Three Pieces for Guitar from 1922, which were recorded a few times and then largely forgotten. Frizzell believes people will still enjoy hearing these “earthy” works that almost have an Etruscan feel.
The 46-year-old, who grew up in Red Deer and studied in Edmonton, at RDC and the University of Lethbridge, will also perform seven brief studies from Etudes Melodiques Progressive, Opus 60 (1853) by Carcassi. The Italian guitarist and composer has a hazy history, but is thought to have fought on the side of Napoleon at Waterloo.
Scholars have studied some of Carcassi’s works as they were originally written, to try to decipher which kind of fingering was initially used to play them, said Frizzell, who’s learning this in his master’s program studies at the University of Calgary.
“What they’re finding is that it’s simpler than what the modern mind did with it and it really worked quite well.”
Grand Variations for Guitar (1843) by Bobrowicz are also on his concert bill, as are Homenaja pour Guitare (1920) by Manuel de Falla, and a Japanese folk song, Sakura, Theme and Variations, written in 1960 by Yuquijiro Yocoh.
Frizzell will be joined by fellow U of C student Mustafa Kamaliddin. They will play a duet — Prelude, Fugue and Variation, Opus 18 (1862) by Caesar Franck — and Kamaliddin will also perform a solo piece.
Frizzell believes a lot of guitarists from today’s rock and metal bands realize they owe a debt to those who came before them. They talk about classical guitar as “a mysterious zenith. … Going to see (a classical concert) would be like taking a pilgrimage to Mecca or seeing a guru somewhere.”
He said he always enjoys performing and the chance it provides to turn more listeners on to the classical guitar sound.
Tickets for the 2 p.m. concert are $23.10 ($18.90 students/seniors) from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.