On January 28th, 2016, I attended a New York City Classical Guitar Society Salon Series show by guitarist Colin Davin, at the Diller-Quaile School of Music.
Music aside, for a downtown person like myself, it was fun to make the trek to the Upper East Side (E. 95th Street). I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the neighborhood, the large, romantic brownstones filled with open windows and floor-to-ceiling book shelves. To get to the music school, I had to climb a small hill and for a few brief minutes, felt like maybe I was in another New York, or another time.
On to the music: Colin Davin is an expert player: he has performed at venues like Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum, the David Letterman show, the list goes on... He holds a master of music from Juilliard and won the Guitar Foundation of American International Solo Competition.
But accolades aside, he is a warm presence, with a beautiful, expressive quality to his playing. His technique is precise and virtuosic. The program included J.S. Bach's Sonata No. 3 for Unaccompanied Violin, which Davin arranged himself, Joan Tower's Clocks, and J.S. Bach's Suite No. 6 for Unaccompanied Cello, which Davin also arranged. The Bach pieces were played with such precision and grace that one felt transported to another place and time: I remember thinking, "This is truly what a salon experience should be like." I imagined how remarkable it would be if we were all sitting in comfortable, tapestried armchairs around the performer, instead of small, rickety, uncomfortable, hard modern metal chairs. The beauty and serenity his playing inspired deserved better than the cold, hard furniture of modernity.
I was impressed with his decision to play Clocks, by Joan Tower. It's a piece that one does not often get to hear live, but Davin studied with Sharon Isbin, who herself studied directly with the composer. Unlike Bach's tonal masterpieces, Tower's composition introduces us to a warped soundscape, reminiscent, Davin said, of Dali's melted clocks, as rhythms slow and morph into new versions of themselves and notes appear almost as reverberations of their past incarnations.
I am not a guitarist, though I dabbled with the instrument in the past. I think the classical guitar produces one of the most soothing, beautiful sounds in music, and I highly recommend supporting this humble, but vast, complicated art form.
Davin currently has a CD out called The Infinite Fabric of Dreams.