As Milos Karadaglic says, “the elegance with which guitar can so comfortably sit between the worlds of classical and mainstream is very special, and indeed unique.”
Local fans of the man, hailed by the New York Times as “one of the most exciting and communicative classical guitarists today,” will have a special, intimate chance to experience that uniqueness this weekend. Bravo Niagara! presents Milos this Sunday afternoon at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Combining the classical and the mainstream, the program for the 3 p.m. concert will feature his fluid guitar playing on music by Bach, Granados, Villa-Lobos, Duplessy and the Beatles.
Though selections by Lennon and McCartney may seem out of place among the other names, it must be noted that Karadaglic’s 2016 release on Decca Records was entitled Blackbird: The Beatles Album. On that collection, he interpreted 15 of the band’s most popular songs, with special guests taking a few turns on vocals. In fact, in a 2016 interview with BBC News, he insisted that The Beatles are “as important as Bach” and should be considered part of the core classical music catalogue.
His most recent album continues the trend. Sound of Silence combines his take on modern songs written by the likes of Leonard Cohen, the Moody Blues, Paul Simon, Dido and Radiohead, with more traditional Spanish and classical selections by Francisco Tarrega and Jorge Calandrelli.
Karadaglic promises that the music he has selected for this weekend’s program “includes some of classical guitar’s all-time favourites, and also pieces that continue to stretch the imagination and style with innovation and freshness of approach.”
Bravo Niagara! is presenting Karadaglic for the second time in two years. His most recent visit to town was in August, 2018, when he appeared with the Marc Djokic String Quartet. That concert, like this one, was called The Voice of the Guitar.
“This will be a rare opportunity to hear one of the world’s great classical guitarists in an intimate, historic setting,” says Bravo Niagara!’s artistic director Christine Mori. “He absolutely loved Niagara-on-the-Lake, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him back.”
That 2018 Bravo Niagara! performance was one of the earliest steps in Karadaglic’s comeback from a hand injury that had left him unable to play in 2017. It came just 16 days after he performed the world premiere of Joby Talbot’s guitar concerto, Ink Dark Moon, written especially for Milos, with the BBC Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
He discovered the instrument as a child in Montenegro, where he first picked up a guitar that had been lying around his home collecting dust.
By the age of 11, Karadaglic had won his first national competition. At 14, he was invited to play at a concert hall in Paris. He later travelled to Italy, where he met classical guitarist David Russell. It was Russell, in fact, who advised him to enrol at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London. With a bit of trepidation, his family supported his move from the Balkans, and he went on to earn a Masters in Performance, as well as the Ivor Mairants Award and the Julian Bream Prize.
In 2010, he signed a record deal with Deutsche Grammaphon, releasing his first album, Mediterraneo, the following year. The album received almost universal rave reviews, and he was hailed by many as a master technician, part of a modern renaissance in classical guitar.
By 2016, he had released seven critically acclaimed albums, before he was slowed by that hand injury.
Sound of Silence spent a number of weeks atop the UK classical and Amazon charts. The repertoire on that new album, and on the entire tour, is a deeply intimate and personal collection of music that he says accompanied him through his journey of recovery and rediscovery.
The Bravo Niagara! 2019/2020 season continues following this weekend’s performance. On April 5, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet celebrates their father Dave’s centennial with a concert at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.
The current season wraps up the weekend of May 2 and 3. Saturday will feature many well-known classics in From Broadway With Love, featuring the talents of Jason Forbach, Siri Howard and Joseph Spieldenner. The following day’s program will feature Cho-Liang Lin on violin, accompanied by pianist Jon Kimura Parker. The two virtuoso musicians will present a diverse program, ranging from Beethoven to Bernstein. Both concerts will be held at St. Mark’s Anglican Church.
Tickets for these shows, as well as this weekend’s performance, are available at bravoniagara.org.