‘Unstuffy’ composers to perform on Friday
Do you have the perception that composers are intellectual and a bit stuffy?
Then Friday’s “New Music for the Guitar, Meet the Composer Series” night featuring local composers/guitarists Stephen Holland and Louis Valentine Johnson might change your opinion.
True, both composers have spent many years in higher institutions studying music. With a degree in comparative music and literature from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in performance from California State University-Sacramento, Holland currently teaches world music at Solano Community College and guest lectures on the history of rock ‘n’ roll at his alma mater in Sacramento.
But the composers are also down-to-earth, as evidenced by Holland’s rapid-fire comments last weekend: “I’m like a lot of singer-songwriters who are like the dregs of the musical community, but I like it. Look at Bob Dylan; I love him.”
Hearing pop and folk songs during his childhood in Auburn, Holland turned to writing classical and art songs in his early 20s when he heard Brazilian/Latin composers who drew from folklore.
“I went to Brazil and Mexico several times. I was always collecting songs from Mexican songwriters in bars and little venues,” Holland reminisced. “The musical academic community had their nose up in the air, but my teachers dug it that I sang these songs in Portuguese and Spanish.”
Locally, Holland performs solo and with ensembles every week. The music he’ll play Friday will be different from his nightclub repertoire.
“I won’t sing my Portuguese or Latin American songs Friday. I’ll play more a fusion of Western classical and word traditions. I’ll recite my poetry, some of it serious, some more light-hearted, accompanying myself on guitar,” Holland said. “For a while, I felt embarrassed because I loved simple, cheesy folk songs; I’d listen to old nursery songs. It was my foundation as a kid.”
Holland, who describes himself as “a child of the ’60s, now a middle-aged hippie,” is no longer embarrassed by his eclectic musical tastes.
“I eat everything; I’m cannibalistic,” he said. “I eat my influences. A lot of my music, you have to call it American because I am, but the music has influences of the world.”
KNOW AND GO:
WHAT: “Meet the Composer Series” featuring Stephen Holland and Louis Johnson
WHEN: Friday. Musicians’ reception at 7 p.m. followed by concert/talks at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Nevada City Winery, 321 Spring St., Nevada City
ADMISSION: $20 includes wine and dessert
INFORMATION/RESERVATIONS: 478-0983 or
http://www.nccomposerscooperative.org on the Web
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