Guitarist returns home for first solo performance |

Guitarist returns home for first solo performance

ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Pretend this is a multiple-choice question.

Friday night’s Music in the Mountains concert will be:

a) a homecoming;

b) a demonstration of love between a son and his father;

c) a performance by two masters – one at the beginning of his career and the other with four decades of accomplishments; or

d) all the above.

The correct answer is “d.” Friday’s concert will spotlight Gyan Riley in original works and classical compositions on guitar from throughout the ages.

It’s a homecoming performance for Riley, who grew up in Camptonville and is a 1995 graduate of Nevada Union High School.

“I’m looking forward to playing in my hometown. I’ve been looking forward to doing this for a long time,” said Riley Tuesday before leaving his San Francisco home to travel here for his first solo performance at Music in the Mountains.

This concert will also allow him to be accompanied in a few numbers by his father, internationally-known avant- garde composer and performer Terry Riley.

“This is the first time I invited him to play with me,” Gyan Riley said with a hearty laugh. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I got into music and heard his music all the time. It’s great to be able to do this with my dad. Most people don’t have that opportunity.”

The two have often played together, both in the states and abroad, but usually it’s the father’s gig.

His father is also excited about this concert, in which he’s the guest.

“I’m thrilled Gyan’s got this concert, especially in the town he grew up in. I’m really happy to be playing with him. He’s a wonderful musician. He’s very intuitive. For someone his age, he has so many skills to offer,” Terry Riley said proudly.

His son, 25, has performed for about 13 years.

“I’m finally at the point where I’m at the level I can play with my father. His music is not simple. He’s extremely talented,” the younger Riley said.

Terry Riley said his son is being modest: “I think he’s well on his way. It’s not easy to make a career in music.”

Gyan, who completed his master’s degree at San Francisco Conservatory of Music last spring, is attracting quite a bit of attention.

He was the first American to make it to the semifinals of the first annual San Francisco International Guitar competition last month.

Also, Gyan was chosen to compose for and be one of nine international guitarists in the World Guitar Ensemble. The ensemble kicks off with a summer concert in Germany and then tours Europe.

Other recognition includes receiving first prize in the Portland Guitar Festival Competition in 1999 and first prize in the San Francisco Conservatory Guitar Concerto Competition last year.

Currently, Gyan is artistic director for the San Francisco Classical Guitar Society. He also teaches ten students and composes between solo performances.

He finished his debut CD, ” Food for the Bearded,” in what Gyan calls “a musical product of my last five years. A lot of blood, sweat and tears.” Some from the CD will be heard at Friday’s concert.

Gyan enjoys throwing all his energies into his career.

“I’m always surprised (at the honors) even though I’ve been working my butt off,” he added. “It’s still very enthralling; very inspiring. It’s what I want to do. It’s such a hard living; it takes more to persevere in this profession. Things are happening. I’m an optimist.”


Besides Gyan Riley’s concert Friday, there are two other concerts remaining in MIM’s Fall Fest, including tonight’s “Stars of Tomorrow” concert.

Tonight’s concert features the winners of the annual MIM Young Musicians Competition. Accompanied by MIM Artistic Director Paul Perry on piano, the youth will play pieces by Brahms, Schumann, Mozart and Chopin.

Musicians include Zack Zykowski, Julie Lipson, Miriam Becker Drace and Jasper Frederickson.

Saturday’s concert is with Prof. Matthew Darling and the Percussion Ensemble – California State University at Fresno in “The Exotic Sounds and Unusual Rhythms of Percussion.”

Darling and his ensemble will perform works by Mark Ford, Ney Rosauro, George Hamilton Green and others. Darling is principal percussionist of MIM’s Festival Orchestra.


WHAT: Music in the Mountains’ Fall Fest

WHEN: Performances are at 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday

WHERE: Festival Center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

ADMISSION: $18 and $22 for adults; $9 and $11 for youth. A special $7 youth ticket (18 and under) is available for tonight’s concert.

INFORMATION: 265-6124, (800) 218-2188;; or at the MIM box office, 530 Searls Ave., Nevada City.

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