‘International Guitar Night’ Featuring: Brian Gore, Italy’s Pino Forastiere, Mike Dawes from England, and Quique Sinesi from Argentina at The Barns at Wolf Trap by Francine Schwartz

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Brian Gore. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Brian Gore. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

The Barns at Wolf Trap had a full house on Thursday nightt, bringing 2014’s International Guitar Night for a return engagement. This year’s tour featured Brian Gore from Santa Cruz, Italy’s Pino Forastiere, England’s Mike Dawes from England, and Argentina’s Quique Sinesi.

First to take the stage was Brian Gore, who actually created the concept of International Guitar Night in 1995 and has now broadened his reach to Canada and the UK. The tour is designed to be an forum for the finest composer/musicians to perform their latest original songs and share musical ideas with their peers in public concert. Each annual iteration features a different combination of artists.

Brian Gore has a distinctive fingerstyle technique and a contagious enthusiasm for the collective venture of the collaboration. He described his style as “simple and somewhat rootsy.”  He played “Erendira,” “John Nichols Trail” and “Beneath The Covered Bridge.” The first pieces was from his very first album and the second two pieces are from his latest album – Santa Cruz.

Quique Sinesi. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Quique Sinesi. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

He was followed by Quique Sinesi who draws from the tango and folklore traditions of his native Argentina. He is not constrained by the classical influences, however, and played a terrific piece he called Kyoto, inspired by the Japanese city and referencing wind chimes. He also played an original piece on a traditional instrument, the Charango, a Bolivian Andes lutelike which he had rediscovered for his recent invention, aptly titled Charangella. His moods were romantic and melancholic, especially true in a pieces called Seras Verdad, translated “Are you for real?” and Otra Dias.

Pino Forastiere. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Pino Forastiere. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

Italian steel-string guitarist Pino Forastiere was the rockstar of the night, according to the two professional musicians who sat next to me. His dark good looks and intensity did not distract from his blend of slapping, tapping, strumming, harmonics and changes in tunings. After hearing these musicians one has to start to think of guitars as a percussive instrument. A convert to the steel string acoustical guitar he was strongly influenced by the late Michael Hedges. His music has somewhat cryptic titles. He played 2 of the Etudes 1-8 tonight, ie #4, and #5, creating effects which are hard to describe as other than environmental excerpts, reminiscent of whistles and train sounds.

Mike Dawes. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.
Mike Dawes. Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap.

Mike Dawes is a 24 year old English fingerstyle prodigy who has recently released an album, What Just Happened? Dawes described his trajectory from teaching guitar to performing artist and like the others, primarily performed his own compositions, fusing Celtic, rock, jazz ad experimental music to credit a unique blend. Multiple songs have been produced on the CandyRat label. He played an impressive piece called Boggy Shreds, composed when he was 17 and Somebody I Used To Know, a response to a challenge to replicate a piece implemented by five people playing on the same guitar.

All four guitar masters came together to close the first set, before a brief intermission, and later returned with various combination and ensemble pieces. Look for them to return next year. You might want to hurry to get your tickets in advance of the crowds of fans following this popular event.

Running Time Two hours, with one intermission.

The International Guitar Festival played on January 16 and 17, 2014 at The Barns at Wolf Trap – 1551 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA.‎ For future events at The Barns, go to their website.