Home Arts-Entertainment Things to do KOSTER A RARE MASTER OF CLASSICAL, FLAMENCO



If you are planning to attend the St. John School of the Arts concert by classical and flamenco guitarist Dennis Koster on Thursday, Dec. 30, he asks that you be prepared to respect the intensity of concentration demanded by his art.
A note that Koster asks to have printed on all of his concert program states: "Please: No photography, videotaping, audiotaping or use of cellular phone or beepers during the concert. If you find it necessary to leave, please do so between numbers." Add to that, if you arrive late, please expect to wait to be seated between numbers as well.
Koster is internationally renowned as a rare musical amalgam — a master of both of the great Spanish guitar traditions. Guitar Review magazine's flamenco editor, Brook Zern, says Koster "has mastered both classical and flamenco like no other guitarist I've heard. He plays both styles brilliantly, without a hint of compromise."
As a teenager, Koster was first attracted to flamenco, the music accompanying the traditional Spanish dance featuring stamping feet, swirling skirts and clicking castanets. He studied under Mario Escudero, known as "the father of modern flamenco." Escudero had trained under Ramon Montoya, who took flamenco from the dance halls of Spain into the concert halls of the world. And after two decades of studying and performing, Koster was privileged to study with Augustin Castellon, better known as "Sabicas," the man recognized as the greatest flamenco virtuoso of all time.
In his 20s, Koster decided to take up classical guitar as well. He studied in Madrid and New York and made his classical debut at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1975, where his artistry inspired a New York Times critic to praise his "a brilliant, aptly fantastic performance."
In the classical realm, music for guitar must be transcribed from arrangements for other instruments. Koster found that he had an affinity for this, as well as for collaborating in the composing of new works. His Tillett Gardens program will open with three flamenco pieces, one of them his own work, followed by three Brahms pieces, one arranged by him. The third segment of the concert consists of works by Mozart, Beethoven and Tarrega. The performance will conclude with two of Koster's own flamenco compositions.
During the course of the evening, the audience will have the opportunity to hear Koster perform four traditional flamenco forms — granadinas, siguiriyas, soleares and bulerias.
A regular performer at New York concert halls as soloist and chamber artist, Koster recently toured to acclaim in Japan. He has taught for a decade at the American Institute of Guitar and is the author of a three-volume set of method manuals used by guitar teachers worldwide.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, with a $15 student rate. Reservations are required, as seating is limited. To reserve or learn more, call 779-4322 or 776-6777.


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