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Fab Foursome: The San Francisco Guitar Quartet breaks new ground in the world of classical guitar.

A Unique Blend

The San Francisco Guitar Quartet proves classical guitar isn't just a solo act

By Marianne Messina

CLASSICAL GUITARISTS are a solo breed for the most part, but there's an exception with the San Francisco Guitar Quartet. Each of its members is an accomplished soloist, but as a foursome they break new ground, bringing improvisation (a very unclassical tradition) and contemporary composers into their program.

Quartet member Sharon Wayne points out that contemporary classical composers (the very genre sounds like an oxymoron) have a hard row to hoe. "We are reaching out to composers from all over the world," Wayne says of the quartet's upcoming CD.

For Wayne, whose accomplished style is highly lauded, the challenge is to find material "that I can grow with, that I don't get right away . . . a year later I can revisit it and hear something new." This means that at one point in time you might focus on a particular "voice" or melody. Years later you might go back, start playing the piece, and "one of the voices you didn't notice before will come out, and suddenly you see how it shapes the emotion differently."

Quartet member David Dueñas is drawn to the improvisational aspect of the group. Composers like Paulo Bellinatti, who wrote an Afro-Brazilian dance number, "Baiao de Gude," for the quartet, allows space for Dueñas' guitar explorations. "It's really in the spirit of his style," Dueñas says.

Both Dueñas and Wayne agree that the piece written for them by the local, Yugoslavian-born composer Duˆsan Bogdanovi`c is exciting. With a gypsy-like sound and oddly metered in nine, it is "full of propulsion," has "independent lines that weave," and Dueñas gets to play a sort of bass role, that is, a lot of plucking and a de-tuned bass string for rumble. The way this piece speaks to both musicians is the real reason distinctive soloists come together.


Sponsored by the South Bay Guitar Society, the San Francisco Guitar Quartet plays at Tapestry in Talent on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 3:40pm on the CPA Stage. Free. (408.494.3590)

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From the August 31-September 6, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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