Jamestown Treated To Classical Guitar Concert Sunday Night

For the second time this month, Jamestown was treated to a concert on classical guitar – this time on Sunday evening.

James Piorkowski, distinguished professor of the Department of Music at the State University of New York at Fredonia, was the featured performer at the most recent offering of the Music Salon program at the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Jamestown.

Piorkowski started with a 17th century excerpt from ”The Gitarre Royalle,” by Grancesco Corbetta, a guitar teacher to both Charles II of England and his cousin, Louis XIV of France. He performed a prelude and two dance movements, the dances richly ornamented in the style of their period of creation.

The rest of the program was made up of compositions by the guitarist himself. Piorkowski pointed out at the beginning of his concert that the audience was in the presence of the composer, the performing artist and the luthier who had created the guitar on which he performed, along with a number of beautiful instruments which stood on stands around where he was performing. He said that the instrument on which he played was completed in January of 2013, and he showed another which was created ”Thursday,” he told us.

The creator of the guitars was James Holler, of Trinity Guitars, in Jamestown.

Many of Piorkowski’s collection of compositions were deliberately evocative of visual or emotional ideas. His ”Three Places,” for example was designed to create visual images of first, a village in the jungle of Venezuela, which was built adjacent to a giant waterfall. As one approached the village, one heard the splashing and rushing in the distance. They grew and developed until one arrived adjacent to the cataract, and then the sounds diminished into the distance.

The second place evoked by the composition was the country of Romania, during the years in which dictator Nicolae Ceausescu operated one of the most oppressive, Stalininst dictatorships in Europe. The music is energetic and active, but marked by tension and threat.

The third sought to evoke the bells sounding in the beautiful city of Venice, with the occasional flight of pigeons filling the skies.

The music was sometimes tonal, and often atonal. It succeeded in its evocations, although it demanded active participation by the listener, and was never lulling.

There followed the guitarist’s most recent composition, titled ”Eucharisteo,” and given the publication date 2012. He explained that the word was a Greek root of words meaning goodness, grace, and forgiveness, and he sought in his music to evoke all three.

He closed his performance, which went about 15 minutes beyond the standard one-hour duration of the Music Salons, with music for guitar and voice, for which he was joined by another member of the SUNY Fredonia faculty, voice professor and lyric baritone Daniel Ihasz. They performed together two Sonnettas, whose words were selected from two of the sonnets of William Shakespeare, and ”Hear. O Heavens, Listen, O Earth,” a setting of words from the book of the Prophet Isaiah, which he said was meant to mark the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001.

The next Music Salon at the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation will be April 14 at 7 p.m., when the piano, flute and cello trio which calls itself Mni’ Tni’ will perform.