PortFolio Weekly

PortFolio Weekly
April 20, 2004

Out of Many, One

by Jim Newsom

Orpheus is a multi-genre supergroup of some of eastern Virginia’s best acoustic musicians. Each is noted in his particular field, but when the quintet comes together for a rare public performance, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, and musical magic is a given.

Stephen Bennett Guitarist Stephen Bennett has carved out a unique niche as master of the hard-to-play and seldom heard harp guitar. Since winning the National Flatpicking Championship in 1987, he has become renown in folk music circles as one of the best all around guitarists in the land.

Bill Gurley also plays guitar, but after falling in love with the bluegrass music of Flatt & Scruggs added banjo, fiddle and mandolin to his repertoire. He and his wife Pam tour the country from their home on Virginia’s Northern Neck.

Jimmy Masters is one of the best known jazzmen in Hampton Roads, an outspoken promoter of the music and an accomplished acoustic bassist. Though pegged as a straightahead jazz cat, his musical interests range far and wide, and his performance vitae is lengthy.

Jim Bennett is a keyboardist with a broad musical palette, and drummer Larry Emanuel adds a pan-global perspective with his assortment of percussion instruments from Africa and South America.

Opportunities to catch Orpheus in concert are few and far between due to the busy schedules of the individual members. So the group’s performance on Sunday, April 25th, in the Theatre at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia at the eastern end of the Norfolk-Virginia Beach Expressway is a very special event. Doors open at 4:00 pm, and the show starts at 4:30. Tickets are available in advance online at www.ticketweb.com, and at the door for $15.00 each.


Six-String Master

by Jim Newsom

Classical guitarist David Russell was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but moved with his family to the Spanish island of Menorca as a child. There, he was introduced to the guitar by his father and learned to play by listening to the recordings of Andres Segovia. As a teenager, he went to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the Julian Bream Guitar Prize. After returning to study in Spain, he won that country’s most prestigious guitar competition in 1974.

He made his London and New York debuts in 1981, and has played around the world since then, building a reputation as the premiere classical guitarist of his generation. Besides being a virtuoso on his instrument, he is known among his fans and admirers for his personable presence, both onstage and off.

Hampton Roads’ best known classical guitarist, Sam Dorsey, has known Russell for thirty years and says he is “probably the most popular guitarist among guitarists. If I could play like anyone, I’d play like him.” His recorded repertoire ranges from J. S. Bach to Handel to Celtic music to Scarlatti, Mangore, Tarrega and Albeniz. His most recent Telarc recording, Aire Latino, features twentieth century Latin American music from Mexico, Argentina, El Salvador, Brazil and Paraguay.

On Saturday night, David Russell comes to the American Theatre in beautiful downtown Phoebus for a concert starting at 8:00 pm. Presented by the Tidewater Classical Guitar Society, his program is set to include a broad sampling of his catalog. The intimate confines of the theatre assure a rewarding listening experience.

Sam Dorsey raves about Russell’s “gorgeous sound” and “broad gesture,” and gets especially excited when talking about his ability to take a work into “hyperspace.” He says Russell “captures the pieces the way they should be played.”

Seating for Saturday night’s show is general admission, with tickets available for $20.00, or $12.00 for students and senior citizens. For information, contact the American Theatre at 722-2787.

copyright © 2004 Port Folio Weekly. Used by Permission.