Classical guitarist Marcelo Kayath recently introduced us to the great Brazilian maestro Edson Lopes, whom we’d never heard of before. What a uniquely gifted and musical personality of great artistic depth that many of us have been missing out on… until now. Read on for Edson Lopes’ personal story with the guitar and Kayath’s testimony about this guitarist we think of as a hidden treasure.
In 1978, Edson Lopes graduated from the Conservatory of Musical and Dramatic Arts “Dr. Carlos de Campos” in Tatuí, SP, Brazil. In 2003, Lopes received the title “Licentiate in Guitar Performance” by the Trinity College London.
He was the first prize winner in every guitar competition he entered, among them the Young Instrumentalists Competition (sponsored by Rede Globo de Televisão) and the 1st National Guitar Competition (sponsored by Banco do Brasil). In 1979, he participated in the XXII Course of Musica en Compostela in Spain, where, under the supervision of Andrés Segovia‘s assistent José Tomás, he received the Most Exceptional Student Award and a full scholarship for the following year.
According to the guitarist Maria Luisa Anido, Edson Lopes is “an extraordinary guitarist, that surprised her for his technical reliability, instrumental domain, sonorous delicacy and his delightful interpretive technique”.
Edson Lopes performed throughout Brazil as a soloist, in duos, trios and with orchestra. As an integrant of the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, he performed in the cities of Houston, Dallas, Austin, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Albuquerque, Hollywood, Indianapolis, Washington DC, New York among others. In 2005 the Quartet participated in the “33rd Arts Festival” in Hong Kong, in the VII International Guitar Festival in Monterrey, Mexico and in 2006 in the V International Guitar Festival in the city of Aarhus, Denmark.
With the Quarteto Vivace Brasil (Flute, 2 Guitars e Percussion) Lopes performed in tours throughout United States including the cities of New York, Boston, New Orleans and San Francisco receiving great reviews.
Marcelo Kayath tells the following about his great friend Edson Lopes:
“My story with Edson began in 1978. I was beginning to study classical guitar, and was at that early stage where everything is difficult. I really thought about quitting. My mother, who was a pianist, continued to push me, but I was a little discouraged.
I guess it was fate that on that particular Sunday it was raining, so there was no way I could go to the beach (a crucial thing when you live in a beach city like Rio de Janeiro). I had to find something to do at home, which was not so trivial in this pre-internet era. I ended up turning on the TV, hoping to get some football game, but what came on was a broadcast of a national guitar competition sponsored by Globo TV, the most prestigious TV network in the country. My mother and I started watching with interest, something about the candidates, trying to learn from what we were seeing. Suddenly came a candidate that immediately caught my attention. He attacked Sor’s op 9 with a clean sound and beautiful playing as I had never heard until then. His program followed with Villa-Lobos’ Study #7, played efortlessly, like a walk in the park. I was mesmerized. My mother immediately said: “The others don’t stand a chance, this guy will be the winner. He is heads and shoulders above the rest.”
And it did happen in the way my mother predicted. The guy won the first prize so categorically that for many months nobody talked about anything else in guitar circles all over the country. It inspired me, gave me a new boost and made me want to play that way too. The impact that that guy had at that stage in my formative years was very important, and perhaps without that boost my story with the guitar would have been different.
But who was this guy? Yes, he, Edson Lopes. Much to everyone’s surprise, this guitarist who amazed everyone suddenly in the late 1970s disappeared, and I lost contact with his career. Then, recently a friend sent me a link to Edson’s new channel on YouTube, where he has been posting many videos lately. To my joy, it was all there: the same wonderful sound and musicality, the technical precision, joy of playing, colorful timbres etc. A guitarist like I have seen very few times in my life, and that gives me great joy to hear.
These new videos from Edson are a breath of fresh air. I wish these videos become a new phase in his concert career, in which more people will get to know him and learn that, besides the Abreus, the Assads, Turibio Santos and many others Brazil has another great guitarist that is second to none.
Adelante, Maestro Edson Lopes. It is always a joy to hear you play. Thank you for your beautiful music.”
With a testimony like this, coming from Marcelo Kayath no less, we couldn’t help but immediately click over to Edson’s YouTube channel to see what the hype was about. We were immediately greeted by the most exceptional performance of the classic Tico-Tico we’d ever seen. Perfect control, restraint and phrasing combined with emotion and energy. Check it out below and let us know what you think.
(PS – In addition to his personal videos like the incredible one above, Edson also runs a secondary YouTube channel dedicated to the 25 Carcassi studies. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to revisit these essential studies and get a fresh listen to them. There’s undoubtedly something useful here for guitarists of any level, beginner or professional.)
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