Guitars do the talking

Diverse quartet

Guitars do the talking

The ‘Terra Guitar Quartet’ draws inspiration from a diverse and heterogeneous culture and world view. Consisting of Pedro Rocha (Brazil), Madhavan Somanathan (India), Jihyung Park (South Korea) and Xavier Jara (USA), the band sees each member’s style and background becoming a reservoir of knowledge for the rest.

The international classical guitar group was formed by these four young guitar virtuosos who travelled to France to study classical guitar under French maestro Judicael Perroy. Recently in the city to perform at the Bangalore School of Music, Madhavan chats with Anushree Agarwal about their journey, their unique musical style and why the concert in Bengaluru has been the most memorable for them.

How did the quartet come about?

Each of us was individually motivated to move to France and study classical guitar at a professional level under the pedagogy of Judicael Perroy. In 2014, we met for the first time as students in his class and subsequently became friends. Less than a year later, we formed the ‘Terra Guitar Quartet’.

Tell us about your style of music and what do you feel sets it apart?

Our best asset, as a quartet, is that our members come from different cultural and musical backgrounds which offers a wonderful opportunity for wide exposure to each of us. As a group, we have together and separately studied many aspects of classical music, world music, ethnic music and other contemporary styles.

Tell us about your musical repertoire for this series of concerts in different cities of India.
Many of our compositions draw on ethnic influences from countries such as Cuba, Brazil, Zimbabwe, France, Italy, Russia and Spain.

On this tour featuring concerts in Bengaluru, Kolkata, Delhi and Dehradun, we are playing Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov’s Spanish masterpiece, ‘Capriccio Espagnol’, transcribed for four guitars with each guitar being used to imitate different instruments from the orchestral original. We are playing Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s ‘Cuban Landscape’ with rumba, a savage rhythmic dance which uses special percussive effects created by putting everyday objects under the guitar strings.

 We also play some of the music coming from America nowadays, a piece called ‘Marenje’, which takes after the work of Steve Reich, one of the founders of the minimalist movement in American music.

Which has been your most memorable concert this time in India?

So far, it’s been the one in Bengaluru because the organisation was fantastic and the concert was sold out.

What do you feel about the audience for music in Bengaluru?

They are eager, quiet, attentive and wonderfully appreciative.

Any more interesting projects in the pipeline?

Right now, we are in India but we look forward to visiting Brazil, America and Korea.

When the quartet is not busy making music…
We enjoy cooking, biking and watching movies. We also listen to a lot of music and spend a lot of time outdoors.

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