Merced College said master guitarists Richard Smith and Francesco Buzzurro will again perform in the Merced College Theater on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m.
"The house was completely packed last year," said music professor John Albano, "and that was on a Wednesday night. If this is any indication of what might happen this year, tickets should sell pretty quickly."
Proceeds from the concert, Albano said, will benefit the college's music program and will also provide scholarships to student musicians.Smith, a jazz guitarist from Los Angeles, and Buzzurro, a classical guitarist originally from Italy, are touring with their new CD "Un Mondo, Due Chitarre" ("One World, Two Guitars").
On the surface, the two seem like an unlikely pair, but beneath the surface are two guitarists with a deep love for not only the guitar, but for the music. Smith is best known for his numerous chart topping hits and achievements. He chaired the first ever Studio/Jazz department of its kind at the University of Southern California and presently teaches in USC's Popular Music Program.
"We are the first university in the country to offer a bachelor's degree in popular music," Smith said.
Sicilian born Buzzurro is best recognized as an award winning classical guitarist. He is one of the world's foremost authorities on Sicilian folk music. His knowledge is so commanding that he is recognized by the Italian government as one of its Ministers of Culture. Of Buzzurro, Smith says "He plays everything, from Queen to Bach and you have to hear him play tarantella - it's simply amazing." Tarantella is traditional Italian folk music familiar to Americans as the music they hear in Italian restaurants and The Godfather movies.
Buzzurro, who started to play guitar at the age of 6, graduated from the Conservatory of Trapani and studied with Stefano Palamidessi. He has participated in master classes with David Russell, Hopkinson Smith, John Duarte and Alberto Ponce at The International Arts Academy in Rome. As a classical guitarist he won three national competitions in Savona Alassio and Caccamo in Sicily where he currently lives. Francesco Buzzurro's passion for classical music is also strongly linked to a deep activity of research in the field of jazz, in fact the guitarist has developed on his own a particular way of improvising on the nylon-string guitar mixing the elements of bossa-nova, flamenco and latin music.
Since their initial meeting in 2005, the two have strived to create a presentation that combines their unique musical backgrounds into an anthology of tunes enjoyable and appreciated by the masses.
"Un Mondo, Due Chitarre" takes its audience on a musical journey outside each respective player's genres to explore new dimensions in the sound of two guitars.
The opening piece, an original composition from Buzzurro, "Paisaje" sets the tone as the music weaves through arrangements of Chick Corea's "Spain", Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely", Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island" and ends in a finale of The Who's "Pinball Wizard."As to the selection process of tracks on the new recording, Smith says: "The selected tracks come from performing together as a duo for the past five years. Throughout various festivals and concert halls, we often open up the set to requests from the audience. Over time, it became clear that these particular songs have a certain resonance with the crowd. These songs reach out to music lovers of all kinds. When we perform these tunes, anywhere around the world, everyone knows that's a Stevie Wonder song. As a performer, I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it is to see your audience light up the way they do when we perform these tunes."
Tickets are $15 general admission and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the Merced College Bookstore, Gottschalk's Music on Main Street in Merced, Passadori's on Broadway in Atwater, and Peraino's Jewelry and Gift Emporium in Merced's Bear Creek Galleria. Tickets will also be available at the door on the night of the concert.
For more information, call the Merced College Arts Division office at (209) 384-6644.