Rupert Boyd’s Concert in Bangalore

This is an old review which originally appeared on the website of the Bangalore School of Music.


October 16th, 2015

In the longest tour of his career, Australian/American classical guitarist Rupert Boyd reached Bangalore on the morning of the concert day. He started this astounding tour at the Gharana Music Festival, Nepal on October 8 and gave 3 concerts in Kathmandu and crossed the Great Himalayas south to Kolkata where he performed on the 13th. Moving further southwards towards Goa the next day after his performance he gave two recitals there on the 14th and the 15th. It was the morning of the 16th when he reached Bangalore for the next recital in the evening. And the next day he’ll be performing at Chennai and then wrap up his own record-breaking tour at Manila, Phillipines on the 19th. Such an endeavor was like climbing the slopes of a high mountain for more than a week without taking a minute break of rest!

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(Soundcheck before the concert) Photo Credit: Poireinganba Thangjam

After the Artiste introduction was illustrated very well and welcomed on stage by Mrs. Aruna Sunderlal, the founder & Managing Trustee of the Bangalore School of Music, Rupert Boyd walked in and the audience light gradually faded to darkness. The stage lights lit up and there was an emergence of an aura of serenity at the Alliance Francaise Auditorium. The audience sat quiet – eagerly anticipating to see the master at work and listen to the art. But in the atmosphere around for the very short while before he began announcing his pleasure to be performing for the people of the city, the show had already begun before a single note was being played. The audience were already occupied.

Rupert nodded a “Namaste” before he began introducing the pieces he would be playing starting with “God of the Northern Forest” and “Kinkachoo, I Love You” by the renowned  countryman Australian guitarist/composer Phillip Houghton. These pieces are the ones he carries around with him in his deep repertoire everywhere he intends to play. The precision of his tone production, techniques and interpretation in the pieces were more than what the compelling composer strongly demanded. Phillip Houghton, in my personal conversation with him, always said that Rupert Boyd is a performer who’ll always try to know the mind of the composer of the pieces he plays and add more flavor to the music. “Kinkachoo, I Love you” was played with such fluidity that the mythical bird Kinkachoo was on stage fluttering at the listener’s ears. Phil would have loved this performance for sure.

The diversity of pieces that the performer brought on stage was staggering. From Australia he took the audience to a Celtic mindscape with “3 Celtic Traditional Songs” arranged by Scottish guitarist David Russell. The melodies and performance resonate at a frequency that everyone believed for a moment in time with the entire set of piece that they were in Scotland watching Queen Mary escape from the Loch Leven Castle, watching a baby fall asleep, and being in the company of lovely ladies dancing and falling in love with them. Married couples forgot their marriage for a while!

With John Dowland’s “Fantasie”, actually written for the Lute (a predecessor instrument of the modern classical guitar) Rupert Boyd took us back to the Renaissance era and the days before the guitar was born. Considered to be one of the greatest lutenist who ever lived, John Dowland was a versatile composer too and his craft in composition is still considered beyond his time. Rupert Boyd heavily touched the core of the piece with so much technical expertise that the composer would have congratulated such a performance.

Rupert was technically good at shifting as such that he could suddenly “shift time-periods” to the Modern era with Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s “Trés Apuntes”. The dissonant sounds of the piece actually took colour to something comprehensive for the audience through his fingers and the interpretation. This is something only a master musician gifted with such knowledge could achieve and share.

Furthermore, in his next piece “Fantasy in A Minor, Op.19” by Luigi Legnani, the playful and mischievous piece with sudden and unexpected changes, the listeners enjoyed it thoroughly with the performer’s translations. It was a moment of fluctuations and there were people among the audience who were actually moving along with the sudden shifts interrelating to it.

The king of tango, Astor Piazolla was brought alive along his experimentations on the tango music with “Otoño Porteño”. Rupert Boyd introduced him and began the grand performance on his classical guitar. This performance was a lovely and seductive time drag that kept ringing… tango…tango…tango…

“Miller’s Dance” by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla was a revolution. Rupert re-created that dance the miller did in reaction of his frustration towards the town mayor for trying to court his lovely beautiful wife. It was aggressive yet hilarious in nature as is meant to be.

The grand closure of the whole recital was the masterpiece by Spanish composer Francisco Tarrega called “Fantasia on La Traviata”. The emotionally beautiful piece with its technically difficult variations that gets tougher with every variation was played with such emotion, quality of rhythmic flow and powerful expressions that the audience held clapping for a while wondering what just happened. When the clapping started, it never ended… an encore!

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(Rupert Boyd in Concert) Photo Credit: Poireinganba Thangjam

The performer thanked the people present for being such a wonderful audience and played the sweet little “El Noy de la Mare” arranged by his own teacher Timothy Kain and by the final bow, the keen spectators of the event rushed backstage waiting for their chance to take a picture with him or talk to him – interview him on various topics of their own and Mr. Manoj, the event aide had to pull him out towards the taxi back to the guest room of Bangalore School of Music where he could get some rest.

Rupert Boyd’s performance in Bangalore, Oct.16, 2015 will be remembered in the time frame of history as one of the best classical guitar concert in the city.


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