The guitar is one of the most versatile instruments in modern music. Its use spans a wide array of musical styles from classical, to jazz, to rock and its various offshoots. It isn’t often that one instrument can appeal equally to both dignified classical musicians and greasy punk rockers, but it’s the cultural diversity of the guitar that fostered the distinctive experience of the Duo Deloro concert in Schroeder Hall at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center on Friday.
This diversity initially caught my attention when I took note of the people filing into the concert hall before the show. Among the sharply dressed, middle-aged concert attendees that are typical of Green Music Center concerts, I noticed an unusually large concentration of younger people.
I followed two men into the venue. One wore a leather jacket and black skinny jeans. The other wore a beaten up denim jacket and long hair pulled back into a ponytail. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have thought I was going to a rock concert.
However, this potential misconception would have been rectified when the host of the concert came onstage and said, “This is not a rock concert. It’s quiet, so everyone please silence your cell phones.”
Duo Deloro is a contemporary classical guitar duo consisting of Adam Del Monte and Mak Grgić. When the two musicians came onstage, they settled down into two folding chairs with their classical guitars positioned delicately on their laps. Before beginning the first song, Grgic gave a brief and charismatic description of what they had planned for the night. He finished by telling the audience a famous Frédéric Chopin quote, “Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two.”
From there, the two musicians set out to prove the authenticity of this quote. They began by performing a piece titled, “Zambra No. 9” by Spanish composer Enrique Granados. This complex arrangement of harmonized fingerpicking had the two guitarists jumping back and forth between fiery, upbeat phrases and quiet, reflective segments. The entire composition was built around a repeated 3-note motif that fit like a keystone into each different portion of the arrangement.
After cracking their knuckles, shaking their hands out and changing the tuning on their guitars, Del Monte and Grgić transitioned into “Los Majos Enamorados”, another composition by Enrique Granados.
This was a romantic piece that embraced passionate emotional expression. Grgić took the position of bass for this song as he anchored it to the ground playing mostly on the low E string. The tempo of this piece was very nonlinear. This resulted in a unique ebb and flow effect.
After playing one more Granados piece titled, “Valenciana No. 7,” they got up, bowed and left the stage. Grgić came back alone and with a different guitar. He told the audience he was going to play a very famous Spanish piano composition called “Asturias” that was written by Isaac Albéniz.
He assured everyone that even though it was written for piano, “Guitarists play it more, mainly because it sounds better on the instrument.” After hearing his performance, he had me convinced.
Del Monte came back onstage after Grgić finished playing Asturias. The two sat down and played “Criolla,” a dissonant modern composition by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. This was followed by another, even more grotesquely dissonant modern piece by Ginastera titled, “Malambo.”
After a brief intermission, Del Monte told the audience, “So now that you’ve eaten your vegetables, the next six pieces are Flamenco.”
The duo proceeded to play six traditional Argentinian tangos written by various Flamenco composers throughout the 19th and 20th century.
The duo finished the concert with three original Flamenco compositions written by Del Monte.
The transition from Romantic era classical to modern classical, to Flamenco over the course of just two hours made for a unique concert that highlighted the diversity of guitar music. However, cultural context aside, Del Monte and Grgić are both simply fantastic guitar players, and anyone with an appreciation for music would enjoy getting the opportunity to see them showcase their abilities.