Genre-Defying Classical Guitarist Jason Vieaux, In The Studio

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Three years ago, The New York Times named  Jason Vieaux one of “the youngest stars in the guitar world.” That praise of Vieaux’s musical prowess is certainly well-earned; the classical guitarist has built a world renowned resume. Perhaps most impressively, he co-founded the Guitar Department at the Curtis Institute of Music — one of the most prestigious music schools in the country.  

But Vieaux also strives to expand the definition of the classical guitar repertoire. In 2005, he released Images Of Metheny, a recording that featured arrangements of compositions from celebrated jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny. And his latest album, 2011’s The Music Of Astor Piazzolla, is a tribute to the Argentine tango composer and bandoneon player.

Set List:

  •  Excerpt of “Devil’s Strum” (Dan Visconti)
  • “A Felicidade” (A.C. Jobim)
  • “Allemande from Lute Suite in Em” (J. S. Bach)

Jason Vieaux, on the blues-infused piece, “Devil’s Strum,” composed by Dan Visconti:

The music represents the musician’s life slowly spinning out of control. The more frantic it sounds and the faster that you can play the ending, [the better]. It took me 70 hours to learn a five minute piece because there are so many percussive things that are very specifically written in — he’s very detailed about it — that it was like learning a percussion instrument.

On why he pushes the boundaries of classical music:

I just like a lot of different kinds of music. I joke around that I like about ten artists of every genre of pop and country and hard rock. But of course, many, many artists in the classical field… are just incredible artists and great, great composers. As guitar performers, we have to forge our own path in terms of new compositions. We have to see what’s out there and who’s going to be enthusiastic about writing for it.

On the bright future of classical guitar:

It really has a great future as a performance-oriented instrument in concert because of two opposing forces: The fact that the guitar is well known in pop culture — every kid knows what a guitar is — but also that I think we’re really in a golden age of performance. There are so many young players…. [There are] so many great players. There are more pieces being written for the guitar now than ever before. It’s exponential.