Guitarévolution: The Future of the Electric Guitar

The following text is taken from Front Magazine, vol. IX, no. 1, pp. 10-11, September/October 1997:

Guitarévolution is a 12 day festival of new music for electric guitar, held simultaneously in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Jonquiere, QC, September 24 to October 5, 1997.

Guitarévolution cuts across all stylistic boundaries with works involving solo concerts, chamber music, live electronics and computer technology, improvisational ensembles, and symphony orchestras. It includes GuitArt, an exhibition of vintage, custom-made and one-of-a-kind guitar-like instruments at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Guitarévolution aims to change the way people see the electric guitar by presenting a broad range of exciting, creative alternatives for the Western world’s most popular instruments.

The Western Front is proud to present Guitarévolution in Vancouver featuring six artists during two evenings. The theme for the first night is improvisation, while the second night focuses on New Music composition.

– Ron Samworth: Solo Guitar; Greg Lowe: Solo Guitar, Tape; Alexander Varty: Guitars, slide & electronics 09/26/97

Ron Samworth is a high profile presence on the Vancouver improvised/contemporary music scene. He has appeared at all the major jazz festivals across Canada, the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, at the New York Improvisational Festival, New Music America and most recently at the Vienna Chamber Jazz Festival. He can be heard on CD with Lunar Adventures, on four NOW Orchestra recordings, on “Creatures of Habit” and with Talking Pictures. Samworth co-leads the NOW Orchestra and his own groups Talking Pictures and the Fort Worth Travelogue and is a sideman in vocalist Kate Hammet-Vaughan’s quartet.

Greg Lowe spent the early part of his music career in the blues band The Lincolns, sharing billing with bands like The Beach Boys. In the summer of 1993, Lowe performed at most major jazz festivals across Canada with the Wille Larsson Band. In’91 his first CD “The Art of Bending” led to a three record deal with Jazz Inspiration Ltd. “Thrilled Against My Will” features 19 musicians from the Winnipeg jazz and classical community and has been released in Canada, the Netherlands, the US and Japan. Lowe’s compositions, including short symphonic works, pieces for violin and guitar, and a concerto for electric guitar and orchestra, have been premiered at the WSO New Music Festivals in ’94, ’95, ’96 and ’97 and broadcast by CBC’s Two New Hours and Arts Encounters.

Alex Varty used to be a musician. Then he became a music critic. After that, he became a musician again. When his band went bust, he opened a record store. He also ran the concert series at the Western Front for a few years. He continued to play the guitar. Then he became an editor of the Georgia Straight. He has performed or recorded with John Oswald, Henry Kaiser, Al Neil, Martin Bartlett, Wayne Horvitz, Chris Houston, Herbie Spanier, Randy Bachman and a bunch of other people, including members of D.O.A. and Blue Rodeo. He is uncomfortable with coining a capsule description of his sound, but says he is aiming for a style in which jazz improvisation, folk melody, rock energy and electronic treatments intersect.

– John Oliver: Guitar, tape; Paul Dresher: Guitar, tape; Wes Wraggett: Guitar 09/28/97

John Oliver’s primary performing project is a unique work of solo performance with Zeta MIDI guitar, computer-processing and synthesizers. He initiated this project with the performance of “Gasping Mirrors” in Vancouver, 1992, followed by a second work, “Melody Returning” performed at the Glenn Gould Conference in Toronto the same year. In other recent work, middle-eastern folk culture has been an influence. In his new opera, “Alternate Visions”, and his new orchestral project “Millennial Moments”, North American pop culture is a major influence. John Oliver’s music has been presented at major international festivals including the International Society for Contemporary Music in Oslo, New Music Across America, Budapest Spring Festival, Ars Musica Festival (Brussels), Rendezvous Festival (England) and the Juilliard School of Music “Pacific Rim” Festival. His works have been heard throughout North America and Europe in concert and on radio and can be found on three compilations and “Unseen Rain” for CBC’s SM5000 series.

Paul Dresher has received commissions from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival USA, the Kronos Quartet, the San Francisco Symphony, Walker Arts Centre, University of Iowa and the American Music Theater Festival. He has performed or had his works performed throughout North America, Asia and Europe. Venues have included the Munich State Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, the Festival d’Automne in Paris and New Music America in ’81, ’83, ’85, ’88 and ’89. In 1993, Dresher premiered his new “electric chamber band” as part of Japan’ Festival Interlink. As Artistic Director of the Paul Dresher Ensemble, he has guided the creation of “American Trilogy,” a set of music theatre works which address different facets of American culture.

Wes Wraggett was educated at the Royal Conservatory of Music (Composition Scholarship) and at the University of Toronto. In 1990 he served as the musical director/composer for “H.H. The o Lama’s Interfaith Service” in Toronto. His opera “Titanic” own the 1991 Geneva prize for new opera and his piece “Icarus Structures” was chosen to represent Canada in the Electroacoustic category of the 1996 International Society of Contemporary Music Festival. Wraggatt has recently established the Electroacoustic Music Department at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in Victoria, BC.

– Hemispheres Workshop 09/26/97

Members of the Toronto based ensemble, Hemispheres will present a free workshop.

Guitarévolution is made possible with the assistance of The Canada Council – Touring Office and Contemporary Music Program, Manitoba Arts Council.