The Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet (Joel Brown, Brett Grigsby, Sten Isachsen, Paul Quigley) played a sonorous series of compositions to a home crowd in the beautiful Helen Filene Ladd Concert Hall on Thursday, October 23rd 2014. The concert began with “Guitar Quartet”, a delightful original piece by Joel Brown, Distinguished Artist in Residence at Skidmore College. A three movement suite in the style of bossa nova (Suite Amazonas by Celso Machado, b. 1953) brought the feeling of autumn into the warmly lit hall and lead gracefully into “Pavane op. 50” (Gabriel Faure, 1845-1924), the lilting notes of which resounded from a joyous, confident rendition. The quartet proceeded to lead the captivated audience to an emotional plateau with the harrowing, haunting movements of the Five Miniatures for Guitar Quartet, composed by Anthony Holland. One of the pieces entitled “The Devil’s Throat” was inspired by “a labyrinth of underwater tunnels off the Island of Cozumel, Mexico”, one of the most dangerous scuba diving destinations in the world.
After the intermission, the quartet resumed with the vibrant “Ponticello Tango”, composed by Patrick Roux (b. 1962). The modern composer Leo Brouwer (b. 1939) and his visions of an ever-changing Cuba were honored by the group’s performance of “Cuban Landscape with Rumba”. Flowing into a series of works originally composed for the piano by Enrique Granados (1867-1915), the Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet truly brought new life into the long-aged “Minueto”, “Villanesca”, and “Rondalla Aragonesa”. The crowd went wild, and the group returned to play a snazzy, jazzy encore - “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck. Brown initially founded the musical group over a decade ago with fellow player Isachsen when they were both located in Ithaca, New York. The bounty of this region’s natural waterscapes inspired Brown and Isachsen to name their group after the Finger Lakes. About two years ago, the quartet was completed with the joining of two more talented members, Quigley and Grigsby. In addition to holding several teaching positions at colleges and universities across the state, Brown, Isachsen, Quigley, and Grigsby have been busily touring the eastern and central United States since the formation of the quartet. In recent times they have performed for Keuka College, the Great Lakes Guitar Society, and the Cleveland Guitar Society. Such rigorous schedules require a strong bond between group members, a key quality that Brown confirmed is the most important component and reward of being involved in the Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet. Brown commented that “the dynamic between us, first of all, is that we’re all really good friends.” This talented group of musicians, composers, and friends is in the process of recording an album, which is tentatively set to be released next year.