In support of his latest album Olvidando, classical guitarist Dr. Troy Gifford will present a concert on Thursday, April 3, with the Valencia College Orchestra. With the long-awaited release of his new album, the award-winning performer and composer contributes to the guitar repertoire by adding a modern edge that encompasses rock, jazz, bossa nova and Latin music.
The performance, free of charge, will be held at the recently renovated 558-seat Performing Arts Center in Valencia College’s east campus. The first part will consist of solo pieces from Olvidando, as well as selections from Gifford’s debut solo record, 2008’s Delineations, which marked the beginning of his career as a recording artist and documented his genre-defying, yet accessible, approach to composition.
“This concert represents a rediscovered focus on performing,” says Gifford, who chairs the music department at Orlando’s renowned college. “It's great to get back to my roots – to play music for people. It's a much different experience to perform your own music, as opposed to listening to others play it. Both are great experiences, but being directly involved in the performance gives you more control of how you want your music to be interpreted and heard.”
With a diverse body of work under his belt – his back catalog includes pieces for guitar, voice, piano, orchestra, choir, band, and various chamber ensembles – Gifford’s mature compositional style reached a high point with ‘Conciertino Valeroso,’ from his latest album. The second part of the performance will include selections for guitar and orchestra, including the world premiere of an arrangement for guitar and full orchestra of the ‘Conciertino’ by conductor Jose Aenlle, who joined the Valencia faculty in 2012 and will lead the ensemble.
“I like to think of it as a musical journey,” says the ASCAP composer of the exploratory piece that caps off the album. “It's a bit romantic and programmatic, although the story isn't clearly defined.” Introspective phrases over a somber string backdrop open the piece. The pace quickens into a softly strummed gallop, accompanied by percussion, as orchestral ideas develop and intertwine with the soloist to eventually bring the piece to an energetic close.
A special treat of the evening will be a guest appearance by the talented Colombian singer Laura Aenlle, for the premiere of a vocal arrangement of the album’s title track, with lyrics in Spanish by Jose. The reflective piece is one of the most technically demanding on the album – it features delicate tremolo finger picking – yet one of the most emotional. “There was something important in it for me that I was trying to express but I can't really put what it is into words,” reflects Gifford, satisfied with the piece’s transformation through vocals and lyrics.
Solo highlights of the evening will be the catchy ‘Cherith,’ a lullaby for the composer’s niece. One of the most memorable tracks of the release, the ballad consists of deceptively simple melodies, enriched by jazz-tinged harmonies. ‘5 O’ clock,’ composed more recently, is a companion piece. “They represent a musical expression of my feelings about my nieces,” shares Gifford.
‘Extremia,’ on the other hand, is an up-tempo finger picking showcase, “probably my favorite, but really difficult to play,” he says. It is ornamented by harmonics and percussive effects, in which the guitarist wears his steel-string guitar influences. A tribute to his longtime employer, ‘Valencia’ is also a semi-programmatic odyssey, with “a very positive vibe, encapsulating the way I feel about my experiences at Valencia College and what the school aspires to be for its students.”
Orlando-based guitarist and composer Dr. Troy Gifford has won a number of awards for his music, including first prize in competitions sponsored by the Guitar Foundation of America, Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine, and the University of Miami. His music, performed internationally, has been published by Doberman Yppan and Mel Bay, performed by guitarists such as Lorenzo Micheli, Robert Phillips, Eduardo Meirinhos, and Rene Gonzalez, and recorded by artists Eric Hansen and Cesar Paucar. He holds a doctorate in composition from the University of Miami and a master's degree in music, with a focus on guitar performance and composition, from Florida Atlantic University.
Valencia College Presents: Troy Gifford – Guitar and Orchestra Concert
- Thursday, April 3, 7:30 p.m.
- Performing Arts Center, east campus
- 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail
- To watch a performance of 'Cherith,' click here
- To watch a performance by guitarist Michael Tomaselli of 'Olvidando,' click here