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Saturday, September 26, 2015


(James Grace)

(Review from the Hilton Arts Festival from Keith Millar)

South Africa’s leading classical guitarist, James Grace, has become something of a regular at the Hilton Arts Festival in recent years. This is certainly good news as there can be little doubt that his presence enhances the quality of the entertainment on offer at the festival.

This year Grace presented his new show entitled Guitar Hero. The show has nothing to do with the computer game of the same name and everything to do with sublime guitar music performed with warmth, skill and passion by a very gifted musician.

In his programme, Grace pays homage to his personal guitar heroes - the performers who influenced him as he developed as a guitarist.

Using his classical guitar (nylon strings) he played his own arrangements of Apache by Hank Marvin of the Shadows, the exquisite Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton, More Than Words by Extreme, Mason Williams’ Classical Gas, a breath-taking Beatles medley and Cavatina by Stanley Myers.

In between numbers Grace demonstrated the techniques, such as bending the notes and the slap technique which he used while performing. He also shared anecdotes about the artists and their music.

Rounding out the concert were items of Spanish and flamenco guitar classics by masters such as Albeniz and Tarrega.

After giving a demonstration of how to play tremolo effect employed in the piece, Grace performed the hauntingly beautiful Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tarrega as the final item on the programme.

Guitar Hero is a show of considerable quality with guitar playing out of the top drawer.

James Grace is a very versatile and skilled classical guitarist. He performs with great intensity and sensitivity. To hear him perform is an exciting and most enjoyable experience. If you get the chance to see him in concert don’t miss it. – Keith Millar