Wednesday, March 5, 2008

While My Guitar Gently Weeps (or Alvaro Pierri's anyway)

A week ago today, a couple of us students attended a concert at the famous Teatro Solis (theater of the sun, or something like that). The outside of the theater is very impressive: huge white columns decorate the front entrance with a magnificent golden sun at the peak of the roof. Then, being inside the auditorium itself is mind-boggling. The ceiling is high over your head with the names of famous writers, musicians, and playwrights displayed in grand array. The sides of the contained the classic box-style seating that you see in the opera houses of movies. Not quite the immense scale that you would need binoculars or anything, but still pretty cool (although we sat on the floor and didn’t get the whole high class experience…).
When we got seated, we noticed that the stage was set with only one chair lit up with a spot light. Now we had bought the tickets and gone to the concert thinking that it was to be a man playing traditional Uruguayan instruments. However, we figured out right before the show that we had mistranslated the show title and it was going to be a famous Uruguayan classical guitarist, Álvaro Pierri. Not to be dismayed we settled in to enjoy the show.
And boy, were we impressed! After a little presentation of some kind of award, he went backstage and returned with guitar in hand. He sat down and introduced the first song, tuned his guitar, and began to play. I’ve been in very few public places that were ever that quiet in enraptured attention. Pierri’s fingers basically flew over his guitar at times so fast you couldn’t tell where they were on the fret board. Some times during the music he would seem to curl around his guitar with his face a couple centimeters away as musician and instrument became one with the music. He played with such ease, enjoyment, and passion that it was infective to the audience as we sat there and gaped at his ability. By the time he finished his first 20+ minute long opus (completely memorized I might add) we were completely hooked.
Between songs he would give a little incite into the composer and the piece itself (this is all what I could understand with my limited Spanish). And he must have been a funny guy because he would make remarks that made the audience laugh but I couldn’t comprehend. I felt like a little kid again listening to laugh-tracks on TV shows telling me when things were funny. All we could do was smile and pretend that we weren’t as confused as we actually were. “Smile and nod, just smile and nod.”
He also made some sounds come out of that guitar that I never would have thought possible. Some of the songs contained sort of percussion and others strange strumming techniques. My question is how you’d write something like that down on paper? As one sat and listened to the music, you could let your mind go and imagine anything you wanted: soaring over the cerros of Uruguay or through the mountains of Montana. I guess that’s why I like classical guitar music so much. The concert finished with tremendous applause and the audience beckoned him back for three encores, with the last seeming to say, “I’m good, this song is amazing yet short, and I’m tired so go home.”

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