After a very busy summer tour of the UK, China and Mexico the autumn season promises to be equally rewarding! During the Shenyang Guitar Festival in China, Morgan Szymanski and China`s master luthier, Mr. Yulong Guo developed an important relationship. Mr. Yulong Guo`s instruments are unique and this promises to be the beginning of a very fruitful relationship between musician and luthier. For more information on Yulong Guo guitars please visit http://singing-dragon-music.com

Morgan Szymanski will also be embarking on the `Sketches of Mexico Project`. The project will involve the wonderful music of Mexican composer Julio Cesar Oliva. The focus of the project will be his 20 Mexican Sketches (Veinte Estampas de Mexico) a musical journey across the many states and famous sites of Mexico. Morgan visited Mr Oliva in Mexico City and played the pieces to him. Mr Oliva is delighted with the project and will dedicate a new piece for Morgan.

The project will also involve visual artists from Mexico, the UK, Ireland, Portugal and China. Each artist will create a visual work inspired on the music and locations. The project will be launched in early 2012 and will involve interactive concerts as well as exhibitions of the works. There will be a strong educational side to the project which will involve working with art and music students in Mexico and the UK.

Concerts this season include two performances at the Ripon International Festival as well as the ILAMS/Bolivar Hall Guitar Festival in London sharing the stage with violinist Harriet Mackenzie and playing duets with Brazilian guitar legend Celso Machado. For information please visit the concert diary.

Other engagements include Szymanski`s debut with Northern Sinfonia, playing Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” at the Sage Gateshead as well as concerts with ODuo, Trinity Orchestra, and the Adderbury Ensemble.

The Sketches of Mexico Project is an exciting new collaboration curated by the award winning Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski and Sarabande Records involving music, visual arts and educational workshops in venues including concert halls, art galleries and schools.

1. The Music: A magical journey through Mexicos sounds, colours, dances and styles.

20 Mexican Sketches: Julio César Oliva (Mexico, b.1947)

Oliva’s 20 Mexican Sketches were never intended as concert works, but rather as a stylistic and didactic collection for young guitarists to become acquainted with traditional Mexican rhythms and musical forms. However, this simplicity still manages to conjure wonderful images, ambiences, sounds and colours. Mexico’s distinct and varied geography is portrayed in a mixture of pre-hispanic, popular and modern sound worlds, taking the listener on a musical journey through famous and wonderful locations such as Acapulco, Oaxaca, Yucatán, Chiapas, Veracruz. Imagery is present in the music in homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the two famous volcanoes – Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl – the pyramids of Teotihuacan and the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, now embraced by the sprawling capital, Mexico City.

Oliva’s works are complemented by six songs by Manuel María Ponce (1882-1949), Mexico’s foremost composer and father of Mexican nationalism. Throughout his life he collected melodies and themes which are present in his compositions. The selection of popular pieces and songs reflect Ponce’s unending devotion to the guitar and his close relationship with Andres Segovia.

2. Visual Arts: Sketches, design and multimedia.

Artists and designers from Mexico and the United Kingdom have been invited to take part in this unique collaboration. Each artist will provide their own interpretation inspired by the music in the form of sketches, paintings and designs. These images will be used in the following ways, depending on location and venue.

  • a) As part of an exhibition
  • b) In a unique video installation to be projected throughout the performance.
  • c) In post-cards to be sold at concerts.
  • d) On the Sarabande Records website and/or Facebook page.

3. Education:

The education and outreach part of the project is an essential part in order to promote Mexican culture, music and art in schools. Workshops will include a didactic performance of the music, as part of a presentation of the art works. Students will then be invited to create their own sketches.

The project will be presented to promoters and venues in Mexico and the UK for inclusion in programmes during 2012. The launch of the project in Mexico will be in Mexico City’s CENART on the 25th of August 2012.

 

Morgan will be traveling to China to visit the workshop of the wonderful guitar maker Yulong Guo. Singing Dragon Guitars have invited Morgan to perform on their guitars at the Shenyang Guitar Festival on 27 July 2011 in a unique collaboration in order to promote their wonderful instruments. This is the beginning of a special relationship between player and maker.

Machaca – Los Ambulantes

Morgan Szymanski (Guitar) Sarabande Records – SARACD003

‘Machaca’ is an ensemble of guitar, violin, cello, accordion, percussion, bass, flute and cuatro and is the name of an international ensemble of high-class musicians put together by Mexican-born guitarist Morgan Szymanski in 2006. Los Ambulantes is the second album made under this group name although the personnel for this one differs from the first album with the exception of the cellist and the accordionist. Apart from a work by the Italian guitarist Simone Iannarelli and one from Welsh composer Stephen McNeff, the programme consists of music from South America.

As with their first release, the track listing features many well-known musical works presented in a new manner due to the addition of other instrumentation.  Hence the three celebrated solo guitar pieces by Venezuelan guitarist Antonio Lauro are heard with an up-tempo beat with the guitarist backed by cuatro and percussion and also Celso Machado’s wonderful Bolinhas de Queijo given a cool-jazz interpretation a la ‘MJQ’ style.

Of particular interest is the longest item on the programme, the title track Los Ambulantes here given its world premiere recording. This is a terrific piece written in a contemporary jazz mode and a work which uses the group to their full potential. It is a work of multiple musical layers and density travelling through a variety of moods and holds the attention for its full eleven minutes.

The disc is well recorded and performed with style from a seemingly very enthusiastic ensemble.

Steve Marsh, Classical Guitar Magazine April 2011.

Machaca – Mano a Mano

Morgan Szymanski (Guitar) Sarabande Records – SARACD001

This is subtitled as ‘Chamber Music for Guitar’ and for this Morgan Szymanski is joined by an array of other musicians performing on harpsichord, violin, percussion, accordion and cuatro plus two female vocalists.

The programme falls roughly into two broadly defined camps, one, of works where the composer’s instrumental intentions are more or less followed (ie. the Piazzolla and Ponce compositions) and the second where the music has additional instrumentation added such as in the Lauro Vals Criollo (cuatro/percussion/lyrics) and Brouwer’s Danza Caracterísitica and Canción de Cuna(respectively, percussion and vocal/percussion).
Of special interest is the word-premiere recording of British composer Alec Roth’s four movement composition for guitar and strings where Morgan Szymanski joins forces with the Sacconi Quartet. The Quintet is a lyrical and intense piece with many and varied rhythms: a multiplicity of moods are covered from sombre and morbid ones through to euphoria and exhilaration and with several twists and turns along the way. Altogether this is an excellent new work for the repertoire and hopefully one which will make many appearances on the concert platform.

All the musicians involved in this interesting project give superb performances and the recorded sound is outstanding. The programme is wide-ranging and colourful, interleaving the known with the less well-known. The Roth piece alone makes this such an attractive purchase.

Steve Marsh – Classical Guitar Magazine, April 2011.

After many unforgettable years under the umbrella of YCAT (Young Concert Artist Trust), Morgan Szymanski will now be represented by Laura Tear:

“When Morgan asked me to work for him I was absolutely delighted. Morgan is not just an outstanding young musician but also a fantastic communicator and a joy to work with.

My own career in music began more than a few years ago in Italy, working for ORIA, one of the oldest and most established music agencies in Italy.
If you would like to talk to me about Morgan please do get in contact and I look very much forward to meeting you at some of Morgan’s future concerts?.

Laura Tear Artist Management,
62, Annandale Road
London SE10 0DB

tel+44 (0)20 8293 9911
skype: lauratear

www.lauratearmanagement.com

Bob Smissen / Devon / Kenneth Sillito / Morgan Szymanski / Philip R Buttall / Stephen Orton / Totnes

It would be so easy to think that a world-renowned ensemble, touring the same programme around the country, and one which, though absolutely charming, is perhaps not excessively stressful, might occasionally switch into automatic mode.

Not so the strings of St Martin in the Fields. From their body language and interaction, it was so obvious from the very first note, that each player was still really enjoying making music, and the resulting sound, enhanced by the glorious acoustic, was simply breathtaking throughout.

Yes they can command all the best players around, with such immense strengths as violist, Bob Smissen, and the rich fruity tone of cellist, Stephen Orton.

In director, Kenneth Sillito, they could simply find no better, both in his wonderfully expressive playing, and assured, yet so persuasively unassuming leadership.

And, with such eminent crowd pleasers as Grieg’s Holberg Suite, a Villa Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras, the delicious E flat Serenade by Joseph Suk, and Morgan Szymanski’s delicately-crafted reading of Vivaldi’s D major Guitar Concerto, this was always going to be a concert to die for.

But the specially-commissioned Guitar Concerto by Alec Roth eventually stole the show, for here was a brand new contemporary work which was not only perfectly formed, but was such a delight to hear – if only all of today’s so-called composers would show such consideration, and respect for their listeners’ intellect.

PHILIP R BUTTALL

www.southwestshows.co.uk

New Faces: Morgan Szymanski
A superb classical guitarist who started out playing everything.

By Ivan Hewett
 Published: 1:00PM BST 29 Jul 2010

Who is he?

A superb classical guitarist, just turned 30, who leads his own chamber group, Machaca, and has played everywhere from the Wigmore Hall to Beijing.
With a name like that he must have an interestingly mixed background.
Yes, but not the one you might imagine. His father is Mexican and his mother is Scottish.

Does this show in his music?
The Mexican part certainly does. “A lot of my musical influences are Latin-American. I used to listen to traditional and folk guitar a lot. In Mexico, folk music is still firmly in people’s ears, and it’s also there in the classical music I play by Mexican composers, such as Chavez and Ponce.?

Did he start out as a folk guitarist?
He started out playing everything – pop, folk and classical. “But my mum was very clever. She said I could play my electric guitar only after I had played my classical pieces first. I owe a lot to my mum: she sent me to the National Music School in Mexico.

Who inspired him in those days?
The great Andrés Segovia above all, because “he was the one who really put the guitar on the map. Before him, it hardly existed as a solo instrument. But I also listened a lot to Julian Bream and John Williams. As a kid in Mexico, I never imagined I would one day play duets with John Williams at the Wigmore Hall.?

How did he end up in London?
Through a route that led first to the Edinburgh Music School (“because it had a very good pop course alongside the classical course?) and then to the Royal College of Music in London.

The guitar’s repertoire is pretty limited. Isn’t that a problem?
“The guitar is a young instrument in the classical world, so it’s important for players to get composers interested in writing pieces for us.?

Will he stay in the UK?
“London is a wonderful place musically, but I can’t stand the winters. One day I would like to settle in Mexico.?
Morgan Szymanski tours with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields in September. His new album, ‘Los Ambulantes’, with the ensemble Machaca is on the Sarabande label.

Great guitarist’s set shone

South Wales Evening Post, Jul 23, 2010

Morgan Szymanski (guitar), St Mary’s Church, Pennard, Gower Festival IN a week dominated by oppressive clouds and heavy downpours, the outstandingly talented classical guitarist Morgan Szymanski brought Latin American sunshine to the Gower Festival. Music by Guiliani and Barrios set the cheery mood, taken forward con brio with four Venezuelan waltzes by Lauro.

The vogue for Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla continues unabated, and he was represented here by two pieces: Primavera Portena and La Muerte Del Angel. Further works by Iannarelli (born in Italy but now living in Mexico) and the Brazilian guitarist Paulo Bellinati completed a breathtaking tour of South American music.

Szymanski turned with equal sensitivity and verve to the British composer Alec Roth. Four delightful movements — together entitled Cat Dances — brought smiles both to guitarist and audience alike. Finally, the sublime Recuerdos De La Alhambra by Tarrega was the perfect encore and, unable to resist Szymanski’s infectious joy, the rain cleared.

Classical Guitar Magazine – Review
Morgan Szymanski and Machaca – Purcell Room, South Bank Centre. Thérèse Wassily Saba.

27th April 2010 ‘Los Ambulantes’ CD launch.

In this very vibrant and visually exciting concert, the Mexican classical guitarist Morgan Szymanski was mostly performing in various ensemble formations with the members of his ensemble called Machaca, as well as some guest artists. The Machaca ensemble includes Morgan Szymanski on guitar, the ODuo on percussion, marimba and vibraphone – a percussion duo with Owen Gunnell and Oliver Cox, who were both students at the Royal College of Music, Lizzie Ball on violin and voice, Gemma Rosefield on cello, Al Mobbs on double bass, Phuong Nguyen on accordion, the flautist Adam Walker and special guest Galo Cerón on guitar and cuatro.

Adam Walker and Morgan Szymanski gave a fine performanceof Villa-Lobos’s Distribuicao de Flores and Gemma Rosefield’s cello playing had a beautiful tone quality and was full of feeling in the Bachianas Brazileiras No. 5 which she performed with Morgan Szymanski.
Machaca played some excellent Piazzolla, including his Libertango and two of Piazzollas pieces which have been arranged by Sergio Assad: Fuga y Misterio and Escualo. The combination of instruments in the arrangement, which included the marimba, was very rich and the ensemble was close and exciting. Four of Antonio Lauro’s waltzes were played on guitar, cuatro, bass and percussion, which also worked very well.  The rhythmic and timbral additions by the ODuo, who seemed to leap from one instrument to another within pieces, really added to these pieces. Equally so in Celso Machado’s pieces from Imagens do Nordeste.

The concert featured the première of Los Ambulantes by Stephen McNeff, which was especially written for the full ensemble. Los Ambulantes is the name of the Mexican street vendors, who walk around selling packets of chewing gum, tissues and other small items. The piece is modern and Morgan Szymanski says it ‘describes the chaos of Mexico City’, so you can imagine the sounds that are found in this work, which also features the whistles which los ambulantes blow as they walk the streets.  The ‘chaos’ does die down towards the end of the piece, when we are left with eerie night sounds and a calm zone before the next drama.

Another première in this concert was James Pearson’s Zacapu also written for Machaca. This had a more classical-based style, which referenced more popular music such as French chanson with the sounds of the accordion. Al Mobbs had a short passage of belly-growling on his double bass which added some humour to the composition as well. The concert ended with a further première of Stephen McNeff’s Inevitable End of the Affair, a beautifully light piece of writing with a Latin feel, which one could float home with after the concert, happily humming.

This concert which was part of ‘La Linea 2010’ Latin Music Festival celebrated the launch of Machaca’s latest recording which takes it’s title from McNeff’s piece called Los Ambulantes.  Machaca’s first album, Mano a mano, was released during La Linea 2007.