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08 Aug

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August 8, 2010 | No Comments

Bears by joeplaysguitar

Bears: composed by Joseph V. Williams II, 2009. Performed by the University of Texas Guitar Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Michael Quantz in a live performance from 2009. Pending publishing.

Phantom Zone by William Gabaldon. Oil on Linen.

18 May

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Julia Florida

May 18, 2010 | One Comment

From a live performance at the University of Texas Butler School of Music.
Julia Florida by Agustín Barrios Mangoré. April 9, 2010

Composer and Guitarist, Agustín Barrios Mangoré

08 May

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New Video

May 8, 2010 | No Comments

Domenico Scarlatti: Sonata K. 96 (arr. Eliot Fisk)
From a live performance at the University of Texas, Butler School of Music. April 9, 2010.

05 May

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Summer 2010 Concerts

May 5, 2010 | No Comments

Pope John Paul and the 7 Cardinals by Joseph Williams I
. Watercolor on paper.

May 14th 8pm Concert for the opening of the Sunroom Gallery of Joseph Williams I, my father.
Belen, NM. For details inquire here.

May 21 7:30pm Concert & Masterclass for St. Joseph International Guitar Festival.
St. Joseph, MI.

June 15-20 Concert for the Classical Minds Festival & Competition.
Houston, TX. Details to follow.

September 24 at 7:30pm Concert & Masterclass in the new Performing Arts Center at Sam Houston State University.
Huntsville, TX. Details to follow.

05 May

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Doctoral Recital Program Notes

May 5, 2010 | No Comments

University of Texas, Butler School of Music
Joseph V. Williams II, Classical Guitar
April 9, 2010 | 7:30 PM | Recital Studio

The first half of this program presents two very different concepts of the sonata.

The Italian composer, Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), was born the same year as Bach and Handel. He spent most of his working life in the Iberian Peninsula in service to the Portuguese and Spanish royalty. He is best known for his 555 keyboard sonatas which, except for a few pieces for chamber ensemble or organ, were intended for harpsichord. In Italian, the word sonata means “to sound” as opposed to cantata which means “to sing.” Scarlatti’s sonata refers to a single movement piece for keyboard in binary form. Each sonata presents a steady stream of balanced musical gestures. Some of these gestures return in the second half, and along with the harmonic structure (tonic-dominant: dominant-tonic), create a cohesive, unified and frequently dramatic work. They are regularly presented in groups of two or three, where each sonata contrasts in terms of tempo or key. In these works, Scarlatti exhibits the subtle influence of flamenco in some of the unexpectedly dissonant chords and syncopated rhythms. These sonatas were arranged for guitar by Eliot Fisk.

Manuel Ponce (1882-1948) is one of the great Mexican composers of the 20th Century and has written for nearly all major genres and forms. His style continually developed during his life but his music, like his personality, is almost always marked by an introspective quality. His collaborations with the Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia are both numerous and well documented, including several sonatas, theme and variations, preludes, and a concerto. At the age of forty-three, Ponce returned to Europe to study contemporary French musical trends with Paul Dukas in 1926. There he was greatly influenced by Dukas’ thematic development and orchestral colors. In 1927, he composed Sonata III with a new personal language filled with the stylistic traits of French Impressionism.

For Ponce, the sonata is a large multi-movement structure. Sonata III is in three movements in a fast-slow-fast pattern. The first movement is the longest, most ambitious form with an abundance of subtle shifts in harmony and lyrical transitional material which blurs its formal design. The second movement is a slow lamenting song with a short, joyful fast section. The final movement is a rondo where the opening phrase returns repeatedly to alternate with new material. The final movement features an extended tremolo (fast repeated notes) and concludes with a slow ruminating wash of impressionistic harmony.

The second half of the program illustrates three ways in which a work for guitar is created: solely in the mind of the composer; through the mind and fingers of a guitar composer; and a composer’s creation reinterpreted through the imagination of a virtuoso.

The iconic 20th Century French composer and teacher, Darius Milhaud (1892-1974), was profoundly affected by his birth place in Aix-le Provence. Writer and dear friend of Milhaud, Paul Collaer, captures the spirit of Aix-le Provence in a preface to Milhaud’s auto biography:
“It is both wild and orderly, like the landscape of Tuscany but more glowing; for along with grapevines and almond trees, the red, charred soil is overlaid with the wind-shifted gray or silver haze of olive orchards… Around a bend in the road, all of a sudden, in a hollow, is a ‘yellow’ Aix, or rather, ‘russet’ Aix, basking in the sunlight. It seems as though its rays penetrate the very heart of the stones, baking them thoroughly…Above all, (the observer) will be aware of contrasts: though Aix may be a symphony composed to the glory of the sun, beneath its plane trees, the deepest possible shade…the splashing water from mossy fountains, located at every street-corner, murmurs unceasingly. As shadow complements the brilliance of sunlight, so water satisfies this thirsty earth: where can this special equilibrium, this balance of contrasting passions, be better observed?”
This vivid description is evocative of Milhaud’s Segoviana. Its stark contrasts in dynamics (volume), tone-color, extraordinary variety of rhythm, and a constantly shifting harmonic language create a texture similar to a stain glass window: small separate components which combine to create a mosaic whole. The work was composed in 1957 in Paris. It is Milhaud’s only work for guitar and is dedicated to the Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia.

Virtuoso, guitar composer, and poet Agustín Barrios Mangoré (1885-1944) was born in Southern Paraguay and received early formal instruction from guitarist Gustavo Sosa Escalada. He performed throughout South America and spent a short time in Europe. He was perhaps the greatest guitar virtuoso of the 20th Century, but sadly never received recognition outside of South America. Barrios’ music has been championed by various performers and has since become part of the standard repertoire. Both Julia Florida and Mazurka Appassionata are inspired by women who were most likely paramours of Barrios. Julia Florida was written in Costa Rica in 1938 and is dedicated to his student Julia Martinez de Rodriguez. It is a barcarole ( a song set to the slow rowing rhythm of the Venetian gondolas). The Mazurka Appassionata, also entitled The Soul of Maria Ester, was written around 1919 in Brazil. A mazurka is a polish dance which, like a waltz, has 3 beats, but different in that it has a marked accent on beat two. Both works are greatly influenced by the music of Chopin and, although written in the 20th Century, are firmly grounded in the Romantic style.

American, George Rochberg (1918-2005) spent a long part of his career writing the intensely expressive, angular, and tension filled music of serialism. However, after the death of his teenage son in 1964, Rochberg abondoned serial writing and was greatly criticized for creating works which included styles from throughout music history. In 1970, shortly after this change in style, Rochberg created the Caprice Variations for solo violin based on the theme from Paganini’s 24th Caprice. The work is a stylistic tour de force with homages to Bach, Schubert, Brahms, Webern, Mahler, Beethoven, Stravinsky and includes genres such as the burlesque, can-can, aria, and abstract forms. The total duration is around 70 minutes. However selections of the caprices can be performed as a set, such as the one presented on this program. In 1993, Eliot Fisk, in collaboration with Rochberg, freely arranged the entire set of variations and took full advantage of the entire expressive and technical capabilities of the guitar.

-Joseph Williams II

06 Apr

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Doctoral Recital at UT Austin

April 6, 2010 | No Comments

I am excited to announce my first doctoral recital this Friday. It will feature the music of Scarlatti, Ponce, Milhaud, Barrios and Rochberg. Please feel free to bring a friend.

The details:
Joseph Williams II
Classical Guitar
Friday April 9, 2010
7:30 PM
University of Texas
Butler School of Music
Recital Studio (MRH 2.608)

Parking is free in the evening on Robert Dedman and Dean Keaton. Here is a helpful map if you need directions.

15 Jan

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How to buy a guitar

January 15, 2010 | One Comment

More than anything, don’t be in a hurry. Buying a guitar is fun. Its a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and something wonderful to do by yourself or with a friend.

Set up at least two days when you can set aside some time: one day to listen and learn and the other to listen and learn some more. Never buy a guitar the first day for several reasons: Your guitar, like a boyfriend or girlfriend, is going to be with you for awhile and these sessions are like dates. You need to do some research and find what will fit you the best and what will annoy you the least. You need multiple days because, for whatever reasons, we hear and feel differently on different days. If the first date is good and the second date is bad, maybe you need another date or another mate (boom!). Deducing this usually takes more than a day.

Listening to instruments is fun.
Everyone has different listening skills, but we can all develop them more.
Here are some things to listen for:
– Try to hear the differences in the color of the sound. Is the sound bright or dark?
– Is it loud or soft?
– How long does it sustain?
– How does it handle the sound? Meaning does it shoot out of the guitar like an arrow or does it fill up the room like cloud?
– Does every single fretted note sound good? This will take a minute- again don’t be in any hurry. Slowly play and listen to every single fret on every single string up to the 14th fret and all the way up on highest string. They should sound like perfect little bells.
– Play the open strings or a chord all at once. Are the different strings balanced or is the bass louder than the treble or vice versa?
– Ask the sales person to check the “intonation at the 12th fret.” This should be in tune or the guitar isn’t set up properly.

What to do with the Sales People:
You might start getting antsy or feel hurried because you cant wait to get away from the annoying sales people. They can be really helpful/insecure/manipulative/brilliant/intimidating/funny/chatty/etc… Whatever the case, they are there for you. Help them use their skills and abilities for your benefit by being clear in what you want and need.
Some ways they can help:
– I suggest telling the sales people straight up that you are not going to buy a guitar today. Rather, you are doing research and looking into a good guitar. This way they can stop pitching the sale and talk about the more important issue: is this the right guitar for you?
-Think of questions ahead of time or after your first session. Here are some good questions: What type of wood is this? What is your return policy? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the guitars we are looking at?
– Ask them to tune the guitar if you aren’t able. (Everyone will appreciate this.)
– You can ask them to leave you alone or if there is somewhere more quiet where you can play the guitar.
– My favorite is to ask them to play the guitar for you: have them play about 20-30 seconds of music and then play the exact same thing on the other guitars you are looking at. Repeat this process so you can listen in different ways (see suggestions above). And no showing off- ask them to play something simple so you can hear it and they can actually play it right.
– If they ask you to make value judgments (Do you like this? Which one do you like more? Doesn’t this sound great? etc…), and you dont have a strong feeling- be honest.

How to buy a guitar
Look at the guitar:
– This is crucial: Hold the guitar like a rifle with the headstock in your trigger hand and guitar body supported with the other hand.
Bring the headstock to your eye, look down the side of the neck and line up the 1st and highest fret on the neck. Line it up like a site on a rifle. All the frets in between should be level along that line. If they do not line up, the neck is bowed. If it has a truss rod ask the sales person to adjust it. If it does not have a truss rod, the wood has warped- do not buy it.
– If there are scratches anywhere on a new guitar it should be discounted.
– Look inside the body and make sure there aren’t any loose parts.
– Make sure the tuners work.

Where to go:
– A locally owned shop. They are frequently rude at first, but, after they see that you like guitars and are there to learn and listen, they are usually the coolest and most helpful. Also, if you have a problem or need advice/repair/etc.. a local shop will always do more with greater care.
– I have one rant and that is never ever ever buy a guitar from Walmart, Costco, Target, Best Buy or the like. A guitar is not a sofa or broccoli or a microwave. It is something you will spend a lot of time interacting with in a very complex fashion. I guarantee you will be annoyed by whatever you buy from Walmart. Because it sucks. I know it and you will quickly discover its a cheap piece of crap. You dont go to a barber to get your oil changed. You dont go to Walmart to buy a guitar. And dont ever damage your kid by buying a guitar from one of these places. Go to a music shop and get something that will help you make music.

To sum up:
– Dont be in a hurry
– Leave your money at home.
– Listen
– Learn
– Enjoy yourself
– Find a guitar that you will love
Olivier Fanton D'Andon

02 Sep

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Summer News & New Works

September 2, 2009 | No Comments

This has been an exciting summer and I have good news to share. After winning the Texas Guitar Competition in March, I was fortunate to win the St. Joseph International Guitar Competition and place second in the Classical Minds Guitar Festival.

My new piece Bears, a work for guitar quartet, is finished and sent off to Dr. Michael Quantzat UT Brownsville to be performed early in 2010. I also just recently finished a new work for solo guitar- Nude #6, dedicated to my parents on their 50th Wedding Anniversary. A video will be available shortly (in the mean time, please enjoy this).

Soon, I will begin study with the incredible American composer Donald Grantham and the brilliant theorist and musicologist Elliot Antokoletz.
With their help, I hope to produce many new works this fall.

And as you can see this new website is slowly taking form. Here you will find videos, songs, scores, discussion topics, and a technique workshop.

There is much more to come!