There was 'looting' in Oxford last night; not the scary type that involves theft during riots but rather that of the musical variety when a guitar is played in a manner, not unlike that of a lute. International classical guitarist Craig Ogden was situated in the Holywell Music Room as part of the Oriel College’s Visiting Musician Programme for 2017-18. This means he’ll be back twice more and is doing a free master class at the Harris Lecture Theatre at 8pm.
He was dressed in a suit which made it look like he’d come straight from work in an insurance company rather than from sunny Australia. Craig explained that there are more strings in a lute and to achieve the same range of notes you need to go up an octave on a guitar. His fingerpicking beggared belief. It wasn’t just the speed or the talent. It was, in fact, the exact opposite of my own fingerpicking where I require audiences to be very patient as I change chords.
The talking interludes between pieces were interesting and informative. He told us how the best way to play the classical guitar is with new bass strings before every performance which results in a lot of tuning, 'incessant tuning' he called it, as new strings have a tendency to slip into slightly off-key positions.
We were treated to various lute-like hits which given the polar vortex made it seem to transport us back to Renaissance times or any time that preceded central heating. The Holywell was utterly freezing and people were trembling under the coats with the obligatory old men snoozing in the front room. Why are they always there at concerts having a nap?
If you think you have what it takes to become a master classical guitar player, pop along to Oriel Square tonight.