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Benjamin Pila is the only classical guitarist ever named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He’s performed extensively throughout the United States and has been a featured artist at both New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center, Washington D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center and San Francisco’s Herbst Theater.
Here’s Ben Pila with his fantastic arrangement of the Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody, inspired by Edgar Cruz’s version, on a great Fructuoso Zalapa ‘Humphrey’ model cedar-top. The guitar features a double-top lattice-braced soundboard, raised fingerboard, portholes and a Smallman style arm rest, but the aesthetics are all Zalapa.
Here’s more of Ben Pila – this time playing Jan Olaf Eriksson’s arrangement of Oscar Ahnfelt’s Blott en Dag on a new 2016 Dominik Wurth spruce and Indian rosewood guitar.
Ben Pila is a guitarist I’ve been hearing about for years but had never managed to meet or have in for videos. We finally caught up last time he was in Los Angeles and he recorded some great pieces for us, including a really fun arrangement we’ll be publishing soon. Here he is playing Roland Dyens’ arrangement of Angel Villoldo’s classic El Choclo on a new Teodoro Perez ’50th Anniversary’ in cedar and CSA rosewood – one of a total of only ten Perez will make.
Hailed by Sharon Isbin as “an excellent player with a solid technical facility, strong creative insight, and expressive musicality”, Benjamin Pila makes a rare West Coast appearance presenting a diverse program of selections by Dyens, Albéniz, Llobet and Freddie Mercury. A graduate of The Juilliard School and USC, Pila has performed at the WTC 9/11 ceremonies for many years and has shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor and Itzhak Perlman. Don’t miss this inspiring evening of heartfelt music.
RECITAL HALL (ROOM 106), MUSIC BUILDING*
LOS ANGELES VALLEY COLLEGE
5800 FULTON AVE.
VALLEY GLEN, CA 91401
$20 General Admission, $15 Students and Seniors, $10 AGS members and LAVC students.
Order tickets in advance through PayPal on the agsvc.org webpage or purchase tickets at the door with credit card or cash. For tickets ordered in advance, print the first page of the email confirmation from PayPal and show at the door. Note, through PayPal’s shopping cart, any ticket combinations and quantities are possible.
*The entrance to the Recital Hall is is from the hallway of the Music Building. Ticket sales begin 30 minutes prior to the performance.
The Music Building at Los Angeles Valley College, Valley Glen, is located in the northwest corner of the campus, at the corner of Fulton Avenue and Oxnard Street. Ample parking is available in Lot B, to the north of the Music Building. Please do not park in Lot C or the Faculty/Staff lot. One may enter Lot B from either Fulton Avenue, just south of Oxnard Street, or from Oxnard Street by turning into Campus Drive. Parking is free during the concert.
It’s been another amazing year for guitar music over here at GSI and as the year wraps up we’d like to take a moment to thank all of the amazing musicians who have lent us their time and talent to create the great videos we publish every week. We obviously couldn’t do any of it without them and we are extremely grateful for the music and for the friends we’ve made over the years in our quest to record every guitar we can get our hands on! So here, in more or less reverse order of appearance, are the artists who have shared their talent with us this year:
Orfeo Magazine has, as promised, published their next five issues (#6-10) in print format all in one captivating, quality book. Orfeo did not shy away from providing all of the quality content they deliver online into this one package, which, by the way, we think can make a nice gift during this season! As they did with their compilation of issues #1-5, Orfeo gathers their latest five publications and showcases top-notch, in-depth stories about luthiers the likes of Andrea Tacchi, Luca Waldner, José Luis Romanillos, Antonio de Torres and Eric Sahlin – all spanning various countries including Italy, Spain, Germany and the US, and all building in different styles.
You can find Orfeo’s compilation of issues #6-10 at the GSI Store, and also check out their full catalog of publications on Orfeo’s website.
2016 was a pretty epic year for videos at GSI. Of course we constantly try to improve the quality of our videos, but when the Russell Cleveland collection arrived in late 2015 we knew we had to step it up and document these historic instruments before they found new owners all around the world. To that end we brought on digital media producer Tara Stewart, who was just back from a sabbatical in Spain after producing all of Fender’s videos in Los Angeles for three years before that. We upgraded our gear so that we now shoot with three Canon 5D Mark iii cameras, and Apogee Digital lent us one of their amazing Ensemble thunderbolt interfaces. With Tara on video duties I was able to spend more time on audio and hopefully improve what I already thought was pretty good audio quality. And with two of us on the team now, we were able to double our output of videos.
José Fernández Torres “Tomatito” was born in Almería in 1958, in the Pescadería neighbourhood. His family is associated with Almería since many generations back and has an inherent musical tradition. His Grandfather Miguel Fernández Cortés “El Tomate” was a well-known figure at private parties at the turn of the century and among the young aficionados of Almería’s traditional musical evenings, at which he played duets with his brother Antonio.
Manuel Reyes Maldonado was born in Jayena, Granada, Spain, but he has long been associated with the beautiful neighboring city of Córdoba, where his famed workshop was established and is now run by Manuel Jr. Reyes was born on July 18, 1934 and just recently passed away on November 10, 2014. We would like to express our admiration for both his life as a lover of music and for his masterful craftsmanship that we were priveledged to experience over many years of playing and selling his passionately-inspired guitars. His instruments, to us, have always been the epitome of the true flamenco sound – one of boldness, snappy attack, great balance, percussive yet creamy qualities (when necessary) – overall, instruments of Spanish character. Manuel Reyes was a first-class luthier, and we feel very fortunate to have known him so well for the last few decades of his life.