“Four of the best take the stage”

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The following Canberra Times2 article appeared on 9 July prior to MGQ’s performance on 12 July 2009 at Wesley Music Centre.

Top quality musicians bring their guitars and a vibrant program to Canberra, Janet Wilson writes.

“Our mission is to push the guitar into a more mainstream area of music making,‚Äù Antony Field says as he talks to me about the Melbourne Guitar Quartet – MGQ – and the program to be played at Wesley Music Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Field moved to Canberra from Perth as a 17-year-old to study with Tim Kain at the Canberra School of Music between 1992 and 1995. He made Canberra his home for seven years before moving to Melbourne to direct the guitar program at the Victorian College of the Arts.

I remember the launch of his first CD, a solo guitar recital, Sunburst,at Abels in Manuka. It was nominated for an ARIA award. He played with Sally Walker as Duo Australis, with the Canberra-based Guitar Trek, and with the highly praised group, Saffire. “Oh, I’ve certainly moved on,” he laughs. “I’ve gravitated more to ensemble playing. I love playing with other musicians and nurturing young players. It’s an enriching and sharing experience.”

The group’s new CD, Four Elements, has just been featured on ABC Classic FM as “CD of the Week” — “That’s pretty high profile and quite hard to get,” Field says, and the ABC says, “FM turns the spotlight on an outstanding new CD.”

In Canberra, as part of a tour to launch the CD, MGQ will play a selection of works from this recording. These range from Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach to a premiere arrangement of William Walton’s Five Bagatelles.

There’ll also be excerpts from Astor Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires which excited Canberra audiences in a presentation at the 2008 Canberra Multicultural Festival, and a performance of the work from which the CD takes its name, Los Cuatro Elementos by contemporary French guitar composer, Francis Kleynjans.

Percussion instruments will be added to enhance the exciting rhythms of Nigel Westlake’s Omphalo Centric Lecture and the program will finish with a soundscape that depicts Queensland’s beautiful Glasshouse Mountains, Robert Davidson’s Coonowrin.

“All the works we’re doing are quite substantial in nature,” Field says. “We’re trying to get away from playing little ditties to playing larger works in their entirety.” The other three members of the group are Peter Karutz, Ben Dix who teaches at the secondary school at the Victorian College of the Arts and Jeremy Tottenham, currently studying with Field for his honours degree. “I didn’t form the group,” Field says. “The others invited me to join. It’s all very democratic.”

MGQ has a collection of seven high quality instruments, all Australian made, most by Graham Caldersmsith. There’s a standard guitar, a baby “octave guitar” which plays an octave above the standard instrument, a treble guitar which plays a fourth above the standard and a bass which plays an octave below. The group usually amplifies their music but Tim Kain has told Field that the acoustic at Wesley is so good that they may not need to.

Field describes their sound as “like a plucked string quartet. The program’s very vibrant with something in it for everyone. It’s a very rich experience of the guitar genre.’’

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