Guitar professor’s performance explores Paris

Accomplished musician and Lecturer of Music Nathan Wysock filled Harper Hall with the sounds of classical guitar on Sunday, Feb. 2.

The selections Wysock performed here at Lawrence were threaded together by the experiences of composers travelling through Paris. He opened with Fernando Sor’s “Fantaisie élégiaque à la mort de Madame Beslay” Op. 59, a fantasy written to mourn the death of his close friend Charlotte, who was a pianist. The forlorn, meandering notes comprised Sor’s last and most personal piece before his own death, featuring pleading lyrical sections singing out “farewell Charlotte.”

Many of the pieces included in the program blended cultural and geographical musical influences, as each of the composers brought their own backgrounds to the Parisian music scene, just as the Parisian music scene influenced the composers in return. The second piece of the show was a set put together early in Brazil. It is a suite based on European dances and also traditional Brazilian music. This blended piece, Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Suite populaire brésilienne,” traveled happily and peacefully away from the first work’s tortured, inquisitive yearning and set a happier tone for the rest of the recital.

A comparably fused piece was Polish-Jewish composer Alexandre Tansman’s homage to Chopin, inspired by Tansman’s move to Paris and his influence by the Romantics. Tansman’s Polish background influenced many of the works he composed in Paris, including “Hommage à Chopin.” His neoclassical works in the mid-20th century drew on his Polish Jewish heritage as well as his French romantic musical influences.

Similarly, the Spanish composer Miguel Lloblet’s “El mestre” was written in Paris but based on Catalan folk songs. While Lloblet was born in Barcelona, he toured Europe and the Americas extensively and was widely renowned for his arrangements of traditional Catalan folk music for solo guitar.

As for Wysock’s own musical history, he studied at the Eastman School of Music where he received Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees, majoring in guitar performance and minoring in early music. He also previously earned a Bachelor of Music from Illinois State University. His performance repertoire since includes both solo and ensemble work, and he has competed in several guitar contests both in the United States and abroad. In addition to his experience at Lawrence, Wysock has been on the faculty of several community programs, the secondary guitar program at his alma mater the Eastman School of Music and Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee

Nearing the end of the program, Wysock also performed his own original composition “Prélude” written in 2018. Among his other impressive performances is an appearance as a featured performer on Wisconsin Public Radio alongside Madison Symphony Orchestra violinist Laura Burns, as well as significant contemporary premiers. Wysock is a member of the ensemble Lâensemble Portique, a group dedicated to both early and modern music. In 2009, the group premiered Geoffrey Gordon’s contemporary piece “Wrecked Angels,” written for flute, cello and guitar. Lâensemble Portique’s recording of “Wrecked Angels” is available for streaming online, as is Wysock’s WPR performance. 

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