A unique style and an unusual guitar

Classical musician Paul Galbraith returns to Juneau with his eight-string guitar

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2002

Classical guitarist Paul Galbraith arrived with 26 strings the last time he performed in Juneau. Galbraith performed in January with his group, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet. He's returning to the capital city without his fellow musicians and their three six-string classsical guitars for a concert Sunday night showcasing his talents as a soloist on his unique eight-string guitar.

Galbraith plays a custom-built, eight-stringed guitar, which he designed in collaboration with internationally acclaimed guitar-maker David Rubio. It has two extra strings, one high, one low, which extend the range of the instrument. The guitar is held almost vertically between the knees, supported by a metal endpin similar to a cello's, which rests on a wooden resonance box. The soundbox sits on the floor and amplifies the tone. The guitar's unique design greatly enhances its tone, volume and expressive range.

Galbraith will perform music spanning three centuries, from J.S. Bach to the 20th century composers Berkeley and Ibert. The concert will include "Sonatina Op. 51" by British composer Sir Lennox Berkeley and "Valses Poeticos" by Spanish composer Enrique Granados.

Galbraith has arranged Claude Debussy's "Children's Corner" for guitar, and also will perform "Ariette, Franaise" by the versatile French composer Jacques Ibert. The Bach selection will be "French Suite No. 2."

Bach is a favorite for Galbraith, and he's recorded two CDs of the composer's music, one solo and one with the Brazilian quartet. "Galbraith plays Bach: Violin Sonatas & Partitas arranged for 8-string guitar" reached Billboard Magazine's Top 10 in the classical charts.

Paul Galbraith Classical guitarist

What: Solo concert with eight-string guitar.

When: 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 15.

Where: Chapel by the Lake.

Tickets: $16, $12 seniors and students, $2 more at the door.

Workshops: Four, 40minute, one-on-one lessons are available with Galbraith, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday. Call Juneau Arts and Humanities Council to register, 586-2787, $40.

He's also recorded four of Haydn's piano sonatas, which he arranged for the guitar, and that recording was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1998. That same year he recorded the music of four 19th and 20th century Brazilian composers with the Brazilian Guitar Quartet.

Born in Scotland, Galbraith has lived in Malawi, Greece and London. He's lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the past six years.

Galbraith first earned public acclaim in Great Britain when at the age of 17 his performance at the Segovia International Guitar Competition won him the Silver Medal. The legendary guitarist Andres Segovia, who was present for the competition, called his playing "magnificent." The award helped launch an international career including engagements with some of the finest orchestras in Britain and Europe.

He toured the United States as soloist with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and performed in Prague with the National Chamber Orchestra of Chile. His international touring also has brought him to Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece, Norway, Hungary, Brazil, China, India and Iceland.

He launched his current American tour Sept. 6 in Napa, Calif., and will travel through southern California, Alaska, Montana, Vermont, Maryland and Virgina before returning to Brazil.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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