Imagine the sounds you’d hear if late rock guitar icon Jimi Hendrix, a god of the electric guitar, had been trained in classical music.
It’s a notion that has intrigued Brooklyn-based composer and classical guitarist Dr. Thomas Millioto, who will present a lecture/performance at St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13. It’s the first presentation in an expanded performing arts series to play out over the course of the academic year.
“Western classical music theory developed with the underlying assumption that musical instruments only produce overtones that exist in acoustic instruments,” said Millioto. “So what happens when classical music is produced with an electric guitar, which is capable of producing tones not possible in nature?”
Millioto, who earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in classical guitar performance, and who has played electric guitar even longer than he has played classical guitar, will explore this topic, in sound and words, in his presentation at the Quick Center’s Rigas Family Theater.
He will play a classical suite he wrote specifically for the electric guitar.
The presentation is a continuation of a former college lecture/demonstration series by Millioto titled “The Guitar Style of Jimi Hendrix.” It was that series that first intrigued Laura Peterson, a lecturer in the music program at St. Bonaventure. She and Millioto were undergraduate students together at the State University of New York at Fredonia and were reunited last year at a chamber singers reunion concert at the school.
“We talked about this Jimi Hendrix lecture series he was giving. So when we decided we wanted to do this performance arts series for St. Bonaventure students, I thought this would be a really neat thing to bring in,” said Peterson. “I contacted Tom and he said, ‘Yes, but I don’t do that particular lecture anymore, I’ve moved on to this one.’ And this one sounds just as intriguing.”
If you’re looking to classify the sound, Millioto said an apt label would be crossover classical/classic rock/jazz.
“The idea is that I’m a classical guitarist who is experimenting with an instrument I’m familiar with from other contexts,” he said. “The electric guitar is not usually used to make classical music, so, as a composer and performer, I’m cross-pollinating Baroque music with a rock instrument.”
It’s a topic that should appeal to SBU students, said Peterson.
“I think it will be really interesting to them to hear an instrument they associate very strongly in one arena being used in another, and to see that somebody could create music in an older style, but play it on something that is so modern,” she said.
This presentation is part of the Martine Performing Arts Series, presented by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at St. Bonaventure and funded by a grant from the university’s James J. Martine Faculty Development Endowment.
Additional fall semester presentations include:
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the Quick Center’s Rigas Family Theater: Dave Mancini Trio with Friends. A Rochester-based composer and percussionist, Mancini offers a crossover classical/jazz sound.
- 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, Rigas Theater: Rochester City Ballet. The troupe will give a demonstration and mini-performance of dances from their fall “Bound for Brubeck” show.
- 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, Rigas Theater: Shakespeare’s “Othello,” presented by National Players, an outreach program of Olney Theatre Center in suburban Washington, D.C. The players will conduct a workshop for students the following day.
- 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at the university Rathskeller under Hickey Dining Hall: Jazz ’n’ Wings with the Les Sabina Septet. Sabina and his band provide the cool jazz, the Rathskeller serves up the hot chicken wings.
Performances for the spring 2018 semester will be announced at a later date.
All performances are open to the public, and are free for SBU students, faculty and staff. Others will be charged a nominal fee for performances held at the Quick Center. For information, call the Quick Center Box Office at (716) 375-2494.