Sunday, 30 August 2015

Equipment failure at a crucial moment

Hurrying down the Grassmarket after my performance, I was on my way to get filmed for STV, when the guitar-containing bit of my guitar case fell onto the cobbles with a bang leaving me with just a handle in my hand.

Red Dog Music happens to be at the bottom of the Grassmarket so hugging my now uncarry-able case I went in there.

It's quite nice to be forced to buy something new from a music shop although I was in such a hurry I probably seemed like I'd spent the day thus far drinking black coffee.



Thank you Red Dog, for saving my sanity. I only had to carry the guitar in the hugging fashion for one more day and then I was able to pick up a lovely new replacement. This time I've gone for a Hiscox. Not that there was anything wrong with the Gator - it had seen a lot of action and safely protected my guitar to Adelaide and and Toronto and back.
And seeing as I'd been thinking that I should save my wrists and fingers I also got a sling for it and now I can carry it hands free - much better for eating chips and icecream and so on.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

I'm on the telly - on the STV Player for a few more days...

If you missed my brief appearance, scroll through the episodes to  Monday 17 August (7.05 pm) - I'm in the same line-up as Mark Thomas and the magician Pete Firmin. I played a truncated version of the Turlough O'Carolan pieces. After we did the first take the producer asked me if I could lop 15 seconds off. So we did another take and at the end of that he zoomed over from behind the monitor and asked if I could lop another 10 seconds off. So I played it again and left out another repeat, hoping it would fit and was still making sense...!
Yes. Nervewracking but it was fun to do and the crew were fantastic. Here they are sorting me out...

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Great review in today's Scotsman!

I got an axciting tip-off last night from a friend who has an inside contact at The Scotsman that I was getting a review and that it was favourable. So I was up early this morning and here I am reading it at the crack of dawn... and for those who can't get hold of a copy of the paper, here it is:- 

Classical Guitar – Jonathan Prag
C Too (Venue 4) ****
Even in these early days of the festival, a simple show can feel so refreshing. Classical guitarist Jonathan Prag is a Fringe stalwart, and his daily lunchtime solo recital feels a bit like a cool breeze of sanity amid the Edinburgh mayhem. That's not to say Prag is unambitious: he delivers a wide-ranging programme journeying from music by 17th century blind Irish harpist, Turlough O'Carolan through to a flashy showpiece from the 1980s by Russian composer Nikita Koshkin. But it's the quiet authority with which he plays and his natural unforced musicality, that mark his show out. He gives gentle but characterful accounts of two tunes by O'Carolan and picks out voices sensitively in a rippling Bach Fugue and Allegro. His command of tone colour is impressive in Barrios's 'La Catedral', especially a beautifully fluid transition into ringing harmonics, and he ends his programme with a nicely characterful 'Suite Del Recuerdos' by Jose Luis Merlin, providing poignant perspectives on the work's shifting moods and dance rhythms, put together in memory of the Disappeared of Argentina. It’s Koshkin’s fiery, Poe-inspired ‘Usher Waltz’ that’s most impressive though, slowly fracturing and disintegrating a piquant waltz tune with all manner of grotesque effects, and drawing Prag’s most extrovert performance. Elsewhere his playing can be a bit self-effacing, even undemonstrative, but there’s no doubting his technical dexterity nor his intense focus, and he has an easy, natural way of talking to his audience. For an hour of calm thoughtfulness and yes, maybe a bit of introspection, Prag offers something quite special.

[David Kettle, The Scotsman 8 Aug. 2015]

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Jonathan Prag Classical Guitar tickets now on sale at the Edinburgh Fringe

Time to be frantic again. Practising like crazy; yes. Scurrying to get publicity approved before the deadline; yes. Looking forward to getting back to Edinburgh; definitely. So here is a preview of this year's poster... or Purple Jon as it is known.

So the tickets are selling and I am tracking how many and as we speak it is up to 36. So I'm pleased about that and I hope to see lots of old faces and new faces - I shall be there from August 6  at St Columba's by the Castle again.

Buy your tickets here

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Classical guitar meets fine art in Bristol

Doing my best to blend in with King James 3rd of Denmark
Magnificent piano painted by Burne-Jones
Surrounded by stunning works of art is a great way to play the guitar yet these things were not even the main story. They were there because they had become covered in hundreds of years of grime. The master restorers of the Bush and Berry Restoration Studio, which is housed in a converted workhouse chapel, had restored them to the glowing condition you see here and soon they will return to their stately homes  in renewed splendour.
So they were just a backdrop as I warmed up and prepared myself for the evening's concert; because upon the walls of the church hung an even more astounding exhibition of works by the artist Rachel Hemming-Bray

Rachel  has spent  two years drawing and painting the restorers at work. The results are extraordinary and a great crowd of people thronged the exhibition during the day. Her pictures were selling like hot cakes. The exhibition closed for the day at 5.00 pm  and then the space was transformed into a concert hall. It was packed by the time I emerged from behind the Earl of Oxford's piano.  My programme varied somewhat from the one I  posted on my programmes page. I will update the details shortly. It was a most inspiring and hospitable atmosphere to give a concert in and I felt honoured to be playing there and sharing the spotlight with such a distinguished artist.
I'm still behind the piano at this point - being introduced



Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Touring with Music in Hospitals

Hockings ice cream - sensational and my just desert I think (at Westward Ho, mid tour)
Many hours of driving, many winding lanes and breathtaking views, many friendly faces - these have all been part of a tour with the wonderful Music in Hospitals. If you've never heard of them check out their website. As it says on there, they aim to '...improve the quality of life, for adults and children with all kinds of illness and disability, through the joy and therapeutic benefits of professionally performed live music in hospitals, hospices, day care centres, special schools, nursing and residential homes.'
As part of the Ruskin Ensemble duo, with violinist Jane Gomm, I've been touring in the West Country for the last few days. There is no doubt about the joy. It sounds like a cliché but when you've seen it with your own eyes it is impossible not to feel moved. It is incredible that music has such an effect and makes me feel privileged that I can play in such settings and feel that it makes a difference. So think of all those people who can't get out to concerts or go to gigs. Visit the Music in Hospitals website and read about their work and maybe even hop to their donations page to donate a pound or two to help them keep up their great efforts in organising musicians to go out and spread the music to places and people it otherwise wouldn't reach.