Songs from the Divine Wilderness – Adelaide International Guitar Festival 2010

Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed Friday 26th November 2010

Venue: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: one performance only
Duration: 70mins
Festival Bookings: BASS 131 241 or

Guitarist/composer, Anthony Garcia, presented a concert of his own works, including several world premieres. Songs from the Divine Wilderness, for guitar and violin, from which the concert took its title, was written especially for himself and Niki Vasilakis to play as a part of this concert. He saved this five movement work until last, first playing several of his other works for solo guitar.

He began with Sounds Across Oceans, first using a glass slide, sampler and loop to create a background of whale song and gull cries that then accompanied his guitar work. He combines a strong conventional technique with experiments in creating alternative sounds. The resulting work was rather meditative, but it was inspired by his recent tour of Japan, so there is good reason for that and several Asian sounds in the music.

Malali Dreaming, a three movement work, took its title from an Indonesian village near where he lived as a child. His expanded sound repertoire this time extends to tapping on the strings with a pair of claves creating sounds reminiscent of Gamelan orchestras. Again there was a meditative feel to the work which, like his others, have a mood on introspection and searching for something indescribable.

Then came Excerpts from Breathing Underwater, a work that again used electronics and solo guitar to good effect, the piece being drawn from themes from the soundtrack of a short film, Breathing Underwater, due for release next year and for which he has written and recorded the music. This was an expansive piece with an almost mesmerising quality.

Once again, unfortunately, I had to leave before the end of the performance in order to get to the next one on time. This was a pity as the final work was the title piece of the evening, written especially for this performance and featuring the wonderful Niki Vasilakis on violin, a piece that Garcia said that he especially wanted us to hear. What I heard in the first three movements was superb with an almost conversational interplay and a wide ranging scope. Sadly, there were still the last two of the five movements to be played when people began to leave to get to the Festival Theatre for the 8pm performance.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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