Brett Grigsby serves up all flavors of classical guitar

Posted by Dale Obbie

On Sunday, Jan. 29, music department lecturer and classical guitarist Brett Grigsby performed a stylistically diverse solo guitar concert in the Arthur Zankel Music Center's Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall. The event was well-attended by students, faculty and Saratoga Springs residents.

Grigsby performed music by Francesco da Milano, Leo Brouwer, Mauel Ponce, J.S. Bach and Patrick Roux, as well as a number of arrangements by Roland Dyens. In other words, the program included many styles of classical guitar music – Baroque, Renaissance, Spanish, French and even some jazz-inflected arrangements. Grigsby said he enjoys playing an eclectic program not only because he loves all types of classical guitar music, but also because he believes that the audience appreciates the variety.

Despite the technical intricacy of the music and the sheer number of songs that Grigsby played, he performed with his eyes closed throughout the entire concert, relying on his memory rather than sheet music to carry the performance.


"You don't just memorize songs, you learn them," said Grigsby, explaining that the arduous process of rote memorization allows musicians to approach the music from a deeper and more personal level.

"There is definitely a wall that people hit when they're learning classical music," said Grigsby, adding that when musicians overcome that wall, they can learn to further express themselves. "You need to know how to do it strictly so that you can then mess around with it."

He made full use of what he calls the "magical acoustics" of the concert hall, emphasizing shifts in dynamics and tempo to express himself with every nuance of the music.

Grigsby, who has been playing classical guitar for 25 years, has performed extensively in both the U.S. and Canada. He has studied with the renowned Peter Segal, Pat O'Brien, Michael Newman, Ben Verdery and Patrick Roux. Grigsby explained, however, that he truly fell in love with classical guitar after he began studying with Joel Brown, the chairman of the Music department.

Sunday's concert ended with a standing ovation, and Grigsby returned to the stage to play an encore – "El Choclo," a spicy piece arranged by Roland Dyens and composed by

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