Sunday, April 10, 2016

Meet Paul Erickson, Guitarist

Paul Erickson has been a guitarist for almost 50 years. His website features many freely downloadable recordings of recognizable classical music and original compositions. He can be found performing his music regularly in Western Washington; keep up with his performance schedule here.

1. How did you first become interested in playing guitar?

In my family, my mother was a piano teacher, my grandmother was a piano teacher, and my aunt was a piano teacher. There was no way I was ever going to escape piano lessons. So I started on piano when I was four. When I was six, I heard a guitarist perform at my family's church and fell in love with the sound of the guitar. And my mother gave into my desire to play the guitar as I received one for my seventh birthday.

2. What attracted you to classical guitar music in particular?

About six years ago, I was ready for a change. I had been playing improvised jazz, blues, and rock music for years. I wanted to do something with more discipline and less improvisation. I had experimented with playing classical music on guitar a bit when I was younger, and found it too difficult in the past. Years later I felt like I was ready for the challenge.

3. I see that you have a couple of regular gigs every month in the greater Seattle area. What will listeners hear if they come to see you at El Tapatio?

I will be playing classical music composed by Bach, Carcassi, and Debussy, and some original pieces. I play some pieces that were made famous by Andres Segovia, like Francisco Tarrega's "Capricho Arabe" and "Torijas, from Castles of Spain," some Brazilian music composed by Joao Pernambuco, chord melody jazz standards, and you might even hear me sing a few Mexican songs.

4. For people like myself who enjoy classical guitar when they hear it but who aren't well-acquainted with classical guitar music, what are some good pieces to listen to as a starting point or foundation for listening?

The modern classical guitar didn't really come into existence until the 19th century. There is some music that dates back as early as the 15th century, but the golden age of guitar composers was in the 19th and early 20th century. Classical music is classified more by the time periods that the composers came from then by the pieces themselves. To really introduce yourself, you should look for music from each different period: Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern.

Long established prolific artists that I would recommend would be John Williams, Andrey Segovia, and Julian Bream. My favorite period is the Romantic. If you had to pick pieces for starters, I would say look for Bach Cello and Lute Suites, from the Baroque period. From the Classical period I recommend Etudes by Fernando Sor and Matao Carcassi. From the Romantic period La Catedral by Barrios, and Recuerdos de Alhambra and Capricho Arabe by Tarrega.

5. What projects are you looking forward to over the spring and summer of 2016?

I've been working on 12 Waltzes from Giuliani's Opus 90, and I hope to have them recorded by late spring. One of my goals this year is to compose a guitar sonata. A sonata is a fairly complex structured piece, and it can take months of practice to perform one by another composer. I'm giving myself a realistic time frame to start composing in early summer, hopefully completing the sheet music by fall, leaving another few months for practice and recording.

Thanks, Paul!

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