Review: Classical Guitarist Mark Edwards at Columbia Festival of the Arts

The Columbia Festival of the Arts under Executive Director Todd Olson, presented a Mark Edwards, Classical Spanish Guitar at the historical Oliver’s Carriage House on Sunday, April 17, 2016.

Mark Edwards. Photo by Mark Cox.
Mark Edwards. Photo by Mark Cox.

Mark Edwards has performed all over the world and won many international prizes including the 2016 Rising Star competition presented by the Howard County Arts Council. He, like many fine performers in this area, graduated from the Peabody Institute of Music.

There was actually just one performance scheduled for tonight, but it sold out so quickly they added the second. That is the one I am reviewing. He opened with Fernando Sord’s “Variation on a Theme” by Mozart, a piece that starts very soft and light and then becomes more somber.

Tonight’s performance was a reconstruction of many of the guitar interpretations by the world renowned classical Spanish guitarist, Andrés Segovia. Almost the entire concert was based on Segovia’s body of work, including the Baroque pieces that Segovia interpreted to bring the guitar back to the classical performing level.

Tonight’s repertoire included Andalusian and Catalalan pieces, including a Christmas Carol, and of course, pieces written by Segovia’s collaborator and favorite composer of his time, Manuel Ponce. Segovia himself used the work of his predecessors, Fernando Sor and Francisco Tárregas as a basis for his own genius.

The music tonight was presented in an interesting format as they used a live camera and screen that allowed us to watch Mr. Edward’s fingering and strumming. This was most important when he did a flamenco number where both changed dramatically from the classical form Edward’s used for most of the program.

The only piece that was not from Segovia was the encore music by Andrew York.

Classical guitar music is usually done as a solo performance, and it can be quiet and soothing. It is more like hearing a violin solo. If you want to hear the best, you will want to catch Mark Edwards performing. His talent is unbelievable, and since Segovia died several decades ago, it is a way to appreciate the master’s talents. I actually became a Segovia fan in the 60’s when my idol, George Harrison, raved about him.

Viva Segovia! Viva la guitarra Española! Bravo Mark Edwards!

Vida La Vida continues through next weekend.

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For Viva La Vida’s schedule and ticket information, visit the festival’s website. Tickets can be purchased by calling (410) 715-3044, or by going online.