Guitar innovator Paul Galbraith entertains at Grossmont Colllege’s San Diego Guitar Fest

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Cascading classical melodies engaged a large, rapt audience at Grossmont College as guitar innovator Paul Galbraith staged a solo performance with his customized eight-string Brahms instrument. Galbraith performed compositions from Bach, Mozart, Alexander Scriabin, and Isaac Albeniz at the free concert on the college campus on April 24.

Cascading classical melodies engaged a large, rapt audience at Grossmont College as guitar innovator Paul Galbraith staged a solo performance with his customized eight-string Brahms instrument. Galbraith performed compositions from Bach, Mozart, Alexander Scriabin, and Isaac Albeniz at the free concert on the college campus on April 24.

Galbraith’s guitar has both a low A-string and a high A-string in addition to the typical guitar’s six strings, which allows greater flexibility for his guitar in covering music written for other musical instruments. Moreover, Galbraith’s guitar is supported by a metal endpin, like a cello’s, which rests on a wooden resonance box. The wider musical range was particularly impressive in Galbraith’s guitar interpretations of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 17 and Allemande from Keyboard Suite in C major. The softer lingering resonance of fingered guitar strings versus hammered piano strings provided a uniquely soothing and smooth version of these classical compositions. Galbraith has also been celebrated for his reinterpretations of Bach violin sonatas on his innovative guitar, which garnered accolades from Gramophone Magazine as among the best CDs of 1998.

Grossmont College’s Fred Benedetti has been a professor of music for 33 years. He has known about Paul Galbraith for 25 years.

“His musicianship is really about playing music for the sake of music,” Benedetti said. “His music is superb. The highest compliment to pay another musician is saying that his music is expressive. Here at Grossmont College we have the largest number of guitar programs among community colleges.”

Benedetti cited courses including all styles of guitar music, including multiple classical guitar classes at all performance levels, including guitar theory and ensemble playing. Benedetti was looking forward to Galbraith’s concert, the second appearance Galbraith has made here in San Diego County over the past two years.

“I hope people become new fans,” said Benedetti.

Galbraith was here for three days, and he taught a master class at Grossmont College on Sunday night for the second year as well. One of Galbraith’s students was Eric Dickerson. Dickerson’s mother, Sharon Hardesty, of La Mesa, spoke about her son’s participation in the class. Dickerson is studying at San Diego State University toward earning advanced degrees in performing arts. He primarily plays classical guitar these days, after initiating his interest in the instrument through electric heavy metal music.

Anthony Cutietta, Music Technician with the Grossmont College Music Department, pointed out that Galbraith’s concerts and teaching were supported by a “substantial, helpful grant” of money from the Grossmont College World Arts and Culture Committee. Cutietta further noted, “The partnership with the San Diego Guitar Festival for the second year has been phenomenal.”

Galbraith was awarded the Silver Medal at the Segovia International Guitar Competition when he was 17. He has toured and performed extensively around the world. More information about this stellar musician and his recordings can be found at www.paul-galbraith.com.

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