Julian Gray Master Class

On Thursday, March 12, 2015 Baltimore School of Music hosted a Guitar Master Class featuring guest teacher Julian Gray. The class was a wonderful success and featured 5 current BSM guitar students performing solo and ensemble classical guitar works to a full and appreciative audience.

Mr. Gray is the chair of the Guitar Department at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, and is widely considered to be one of the best guitar teachers in the country.

The Master Class began with the Youth Guitar Ensemble, directed by James Lowe and featuring Gray Selby, Jonah Salehi, and Jake Rimiller. The ensemble performed an arrangement of Adagio cantabile from Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata for 3 guitars. Mr. Gray discussed the difficulties of playing together and focused on the non-verbal communication that happens between performers. The 1st guitar part, played by Jacob Ritmiller, was tasked with getting the ensemble to start together and Mr. Gray gave instruction of how to correctly cue the other guitarists so everyone would start playing at the same time. Mr. Gray also instructed the ensemble about balance, working with each student to make sure they fit together as an ensemble.

Michele Pucak, the second student to perform, played Bossa triste by Carlo Domeniconi. The work by Domenicioni, who is a modern guitar composer originally from Italy, is an homage to the Brazilian Bossa nova style. Mr. Gray worked with Michelle on difficult and technical passages in the work, including perfecting shifts, fingering suggestions, and making slurs clear and articulate.

Next, Jonah Salehi performed Julia Florida by Augustin Barrios, a Paraguayian guitarist renown for his blend of folk, modern, and classical styles. The work is in the style of a Barcarolle – which Mr. Gray told the audience was a style of song traditionally sung by Venetian gondoliers as they row their boats. Mr. Gray worked with Jonah on tempo, phrasing, and musical ideas which made the work come to life.

The final performer was Yedida Wiener, who performed Spanish Romance by Anonymous. Spanish Romance, orRomanza as it is sometimes called, is a popular classical guitar work without a known composer. The work features a beautiful melody, articulated by rolling arpeggios, in the keys of E minor and E Major.  The most challenging aspect of the work, according to Mr. Gray, is the use of barre chords, which are chords played by pressing a single finger across multiples strings. Mr. Gray discussed how to make these chords easier and more fluid to play.

Congratulations to our students who performed and a big thank you to Mr. Gray and all the students, parents, and friends who attended and made the Master Class such a success!