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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Up To Uppsala, Down To Bromley, Bach And Mahler

Within three days I have played two concerts, one in Sweden, the other in England. They could not have been more different. In Sweden on Thursday, I played at a large festival in a small town. In England on Saturday, I played at a church in Bromley, an outer suburb of the greatest city in the world, London.

The Uppsala Guitar Festival in Sweden is so big and well attended that it feels like a convention, with the opening event featured on the front page of the national newspaper. Uppsala is a town whose name, when pronounced in an English accent, rhymes with 'parlour' and 'Mahler'. Maybe it is no coincidence that the hugely popular guitar festival held there combines the grand ambition of a Mahler symphony with the intimacy of friends talking in the parlour or, if you prefer to use a more modern turn of phrase, the front room. That combination is quite an achievement, and I found it both impressive and delightful.

Not that all is plain sailing. No sooner have you reached your main destination and centre of activities - the concert hall - than you are faced with a challenge: the longest and steepest escalator you have ever seen. I reached the top not daring to look down, only to find myself staring up at yet another escalator disappearing into the clouds. Provided you survive this test your arrival at the top is greeted with spectacular views of old Uppsala and if you have timed it right, the beginning of yet another great concert in the Festival.

So now you know, bring warm clothing and an oxygen mask to cope with the escalator heights, and be prepared to see a whole town turn out for this magnificent celebration of the guitar.

After my performance on Thursday I flew back to the UK on Friday in time for my next concert. On Saturday afternoon, I drove down through heavy traffic from central London, to be greeted on my arrival by various organisers of The Bromley Guitar Society at a church with perfect acoustics. The Society depends entirely on local support and a team of volunteer administrators. It was a thrill for me to play once again there, and feel the passion of its dedicated audience on their 30th anniversary concert. My programme included Bach's Lute Suite in E minor, which I hadn't played for some time, and all five Preludes by Villa-Lobos. I was reminded what wonderful music they contain, each in their different ways.

Whether in Bromley or in Uppsala it is heartening to sense such excitement for live music and the guitar. Long may it continue to be so.

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October 2011

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=783 .
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