HGF blog post #3

Harris Guitar Collection in full swing at San Francisco Conservatory of Music

We have had several presentations of the Collection at our regular HGF Wednesdays and students have now played over half the guitars in the Collection. There have been some surprises. A guitar that is not often singled out as a superstar of the Collection is the 1968 Robert Bouchet. Only 155 guitars were made by Bouchet and they are high on every collector’s wish list. The collection’s Bouchet was picked by two students as their favorites over the usual suspects: Torres, Santos, Hauser, etc. I’ll let them speak for themselves:

“The 1968 Bouchet is unmatched by any guitar I have ever played. It’s playability, balance, and projection are, I believe, of the highest caliber. It can handle both aggressive and soft passages without losing any sense of sincerity. Where it is remarkable is in its diverse tonal palate. The possibilities and control of color and shading are without a doubt the most subtle and intricate I have ever heard.”

–Brad Pupa, Undergraduate

“I recall its responsiveness to color change, apt for the impetuousness of a caprice. Its bass strings ached to be played with a warm attack (towards the middle of the scale length). They (the basses) could seem thunderous. Yet, impressions of those who played the guitar were sometimes at odds with those of the audience. Some loved hearing it, but once behind the guitar, didn’t connect with it as a player. I think this adds to its mystique.”

–Ben Dameron, Undergraduate

 Ben Dameron w: Bouchet

Ben Dameron trying out the 1968 Robert Bouchet

 Coming Events…

Guitarrada VIII—a Harris Guitar Collection Showcase

Special guests:  the Romero Quartet

December 7, 7:30PM

Admission Free

SFCM, Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall

Join us for an evening of conversation and music showcasing new additions to the Harris Guitar Collection, featuring members of the Romero guitar quartet—Celin, Pepe, Celino and Lito. See them perform December 6 at the SFJazz Center, presented by the OMNI foundation and SF Performances. Then join the quartet on December 7, along with SFCM faculty and student performers, to explore the history and sound of our instrument via the collection’s newest acquisitions and restorations. Featured Luthier, Pepe Romero Jr., will be on hand to personally donate his guitar #138 to the Conservatory:

 Featured Guitarrada Instruments:

1915 Enrique Garcia

1930 Santos Hernandez

1948 Marcelo Barbero

1984 Miguel Rodriguez

1987 Jose Romanillos

2008 Pepe Romero Jr.

…and some surprises too!

Much thanks to OMNI and SF Performances for their support of the Guitarrada.

Romero quartet w:LJH

Los Romeros (from left to right) Lito, Celin, Celino, Pepe with HGF founder, L. John Harris, at the Romero home in Del Mar, 2014.

Featured Luthier Program…

Featured Luthier: Alan Perlman

Alan’s stint as HGF’s Featured Luthier has been a great success for all concerned—mostly for us because the students have met several times with Alan and absorbed a lot of his deep knowledge of guitars and how they work. His lovely satinwood guitar currently on display has been played and enjoyed by most of the students. I dare say that Alan has enjoyed the feedback from the students as well as his exposure to the collection. Teaming up with alum Kyle Sampson, Alan has been measuring the guitars in the collection and as soon as he and Kyle are done collecting the data, we will post it on the website. Thank you Alan for being our first Featured Luthier!

 Alan Perlman measures

Alan Perlman and Kyle Sampson measuring the collection’s instruments

Our Next Featured Luthier:  Pepe Romero Jr…

This month we will be bidding farewell to the wonderful Alan Perlman guitar that has been featured in the showcase and replacing it with a very different animal–a cedar-topped guitar made by Pepe Romero Jr., #138 from 2008. Any one who has seen the PBS documentary on the Romero family (Los Romeros: The Royal Family of the Guitar) will recall the scene in which the son of Pepe Romero is making one of his first guitars. Fast forward 15 years. Pepe Jr. has become one of the best makers of his generation and his orientation honors not only Torres but also Santos, Rodriguez and Romanillos. Pepe will be with us on stage at Guitarrada VIII and I’m sure we will get to enjoy the sound of his #138.

Recent events featuring HGF instruments…

50th Anniversary Performance features HGC guitars

A luxurious celebration of the 50th anniversary of the guitar department at SFCM was presented on October 11 to a large and appreciative audience. Two faculty performers made delicious use of HGC guitars: George Sakellariou, the now retired first chairman of the guitar department, played a lovely group of pieces, including Segovia’s Estudio sin Luz, on the 1915 Enrique Garcia, the newest addition to the collection. Here are his comments on the instrument:

“The Garcia has an exceptional dynamic range from pianissimo that projects well to fortissimo without any distortion of tone quality. It also has excellent basses that are clearly audible in complex passages.”  –George Sakellariou

Faculty member Marc Teicholz beautifully performed the Capricho Catalan by Albeniz on the 1912 Manuel Ramirez:

“I chose the Ramirez because of its earthy Spanish sound, which fits the Albeniz perfectly.  But it also has a remarkable resonance that makes the guitar sound amazingly alive and vibrant.  Every good guitarist who plays this guitar notices it immediately.” – Marc Teicholz

Brompton’s auctions off a rare Torres in London…

The recent sale at Brompton’s of a full-sized 1888 rosewood Torres brought a European record for the sale of a guitar–$178,000 with charges and VAT tax. Still, someone got a bargain. Torres guitars typically sell through dealers and collectors for between $200,000 and $300,000. In our next blog I will report on the comments of Brompton’s director, Peter Horner, and guitar scholar James Westbrook who oversaw the sale of the Torres. They will address the differences in assessing the condition of guitars versus violins and cellos and establishing values for auctions.

Noted visitors to the collection…

We were delighted to have Randy Angella, the Bay Area guitar maker, join us recently for an HGF Wednesday gathering. Randy’s traditional Torres-style guitars are quite beautiful—in sound and appearance. His knowledge of guitar acoustics was a valuable contribution to our sampling and discussion of the collection’s two very different Antonio de Torres guitars. We hope to have Randy as a featured luthier in the future.

About tax-deductible donations to HGF…

Interested in helping HGF continue its growing involvement in the Bay Area’s musical life? It’s that time of year for tax-deductible contributions to charitable organizations you wish to support. Make your checks out to Harris Guitar Foundation and help us grow! Send to HGF, 1563 Solano Ave, Suite 201, Berkeley, Ca 94707.