When she found out the content of the piece takes a historical, political and social look at famous walls around the world, an idea started to form. And when Bill told her he wanted the U.S premiere of the piece to take place at Guilford College, she was thrilled.
The piece, entitled The Walls, is a five movement composition written for the guitar. Or, more accurately, for about 50 guitars as it’s meant for guitar solo and guitar orchestra. The performers will be a mixture of professionals and amateurs, featuring Guilford students and community members. The piece will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Dana Auditorium.
Sergio will arrive a couple of days before opening night, and it’ll be the first time he’ll hear his composition with real instruments. “I’ve heard a computer simulation of what the piece will sound like, but live music is always so much better,” he says. “I’m curious to see how this group of musicians handles it.”
“It’s our belief,” Bill says, “that including students, amateurs and community members in a professional concert is vitally important.”
Music Through Time
The Walls explores the human impact of four walls — the Great Wall of China, the United Kingdom’s Hadrian’s Wall, the Berlin Wall and Jerusalem’s West Bank Wall. As the music moves the audience through centuries and across borders, Sergio charges the performers, especially Bill, with transforming the guitar’s sound to embody different ethnic musical languages.
“The music is invigorating, and my students are loving the unfolding process of getting to know the movements. I’m amazed how well Sergio was able to create a feeling of each geographic region, and I look forward to hearing Bill express this,” Kami says.
“We make the guitars sound like the pipa (a Chinese lute) and erhu (a Chinese violin), the oud (a fretless, Middle Eastern stringed instrument) and the hora (a traditional, Eastern European Jewish dance, typically played on the clarinet). They take on a very Ben-Hur-type vibe during the Hadrian’s Wall movement and even, at one point, sound like bagpipes,” Bill adds.
He explains that nearly every musical culture has a stringed and plucked instrument similar to the guitar, making the guitar an apt choice for a composition that transcends different times, nations and people. “They say music is the international language. And while we know music isn’t truly a language, it certain can speak to people across vastly different cultures, transcending the individual.”