First-Ever ‘Rowdy Classical Guitar Album' Hits #8 on Billboard's Top Classical Albums Chart - Annalisa Ewald
(Published: July 22, 2013)
First-Ever ‘Rowdy Classical Guitar Album' Hits #8 on Billboard's Top Classical Albums Chart
Annalisa Ewald Nabs First Billboard Charting Album with ‘Live At The Factory Underground'
Guitarist Annalisa Ewald has earned her first-ever Billboard Charting album, with her spirited ‘Live at the Factory Underground' - likely the first ‘rowdy Classical guitar album' to ever hit the Top Ten of Billboard's Top Classical Album Chart! Ewald is gaining popularity, bringing classical guitar to a wider audience by sharing some of the intrigue within the music's eclectic history.
The distinctive album has earned rave reviews - "She reminds us that these "classical" pieces sprang from the soil, the seamier parts of town and scandalous, sometimes illegal rhythms and dances. " Ewald takes her classical guitar on a journey back to the instrument's roots - leaving the plush, scholarly recital halls behind and instead returning to a darkened, candle-lit club, where artists perform amid the raucous din of the crowd, and a lone guitar provides the backdrop for any trouble that may be brewing...
Ewald, a respected guitarist equally at home among fans of classical, rock, blues and other genres, brings a confident intensity to the gritty, live performance, offering up 15 fiery classical guitar pieces from South America, the caves of the Spanish gypsies and European traditions. There's a visceral quality to the recording, as she feeds off the energy of the loud crowd, allowing the music to come alive in response.
More about The Factory Underground:
The Factory Underground consists of award-winning composers, producers, musicians, songwriters, DJ's, sound designers, audio engineers and music supervisors in a unique working environment. The team under the direction of owners /creative directors Ethan Isaac, Kenny Cash and Matt Strickler, strives to collaborate with clients to provide the best possible product.
A sampling of recent Annalisa Ewald coverage follows:
BLOGCRITICS - 3/18/13 by Jack Goodstein
If you love the guitar but you've had your fill of hard-rocking guitarists and folkie pretenders, you might want to check out classical guitarist Annalisa Ewald's Live at The Factory Underground. The album is an unpretentious collection of varied pieces played with polish and panache in front of an appreciative if not downright rowdy crowd. As Ewald explains in the liner notes, in October of 2012 a group of musicians and their friends got together at The Factory Underground Studio in Norwalk, Connecticut. The studio had been transformed into a "night club for music lovers," and three acts were scheduled to play. Ewald, the evening's only soloist and classical artist, opened the show-a wise choice given the audience reaction.
For approximately half an hour, no doubt energized by the lively audience, Ewald played a set of 15 classical guitar pieces chosen, she tells us, from "Argentine tangos, Spanish folk music, Brazilian choros, and even a couple of ‘cousins' from the Renaissance courts." It is an eclectic sampling of the best in the musical repertoire available for the instrument.
Perhaps the only thing that's missing is a transcription of the adagio from Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez," a piece that no guitar recital (wherever it is held) should be without. It does open the possibility of some future recording of the whole concerto with the full orchestra in tow. Ewald plays with skill and taste. It would be a treat to hear her in all-out concert mode, this despite her protestations that the Factory Underground setting was "most unlike Carnegie Hall. Which was all to the good." I guess I would just like to hear her play what I imagine is the most popular classical piece for the guitar in all its splendor.
She opens with "Soleares" a composition she calls "the mother of flamenco" in her notes to each of the tracks. This is followed by "Farucca," a "light song" from the Galicia region of northwestern Spain "which speaks of sunny subjects like love and bawdy humor." "Monotonia" is a composition particularly appropriate, she tells us, for the more informal setting. Its composer Rodrigo Riera was among those in 20th century Latin America who were celebrating popular guitar music. "Por Una Cabeza" is the first of the tangos on the album, the famous "La Cumparsita" comes later embedded in "Milonga."
Ewald is joined by her 15-year-old student Caroline Golino for two Renaissance compositions: "Mr. Dowland's Midnight," originally written for solo lute, and "Les Buffons," a variation on a familiar dance theme by W. Heckel, which she calls "a perfect pub piece." There is a "Prelude" by Hector Villa-Lobos, giving a nod to the concert hall. She closes with two bonus tracks "Vals Venezolano No.1" and "No. 2" by Antonio Lauro, one of the first guitar composers, she explains, "to meld the European and Latin musical traditions." Annalisa Ewald may not have the name recognition that a guitarist like Sharon Isbin has, but if she produces a few more albums like this one, she'll be right up there. Not only does Live at The Factory Underground show her joy in the music, it makes that joy contagious. Also ran in Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF MUSIC
By Brian Arsenault 4/9/13
A Guitar Tour of the World
Annalisa Ewald is a classical guitarist of significant reputation. But don't let that stop you from her performance live at the factory underground recorded last year in Norwalk, Connecticut. Even if you're like me and equate great guitar with Eric Clapton and Pete Townsend you'll find much to like as she brings us to Brazil and Argentina and Renaissance Europe; happy little tunes, melancholy melodies and tangos and gypsy flamencos.
She reminds us that these "classical" pieces sprang from the soil, the seamier parts of town and scandalous, sometimes illegal rhythms and dances. Her brief comments throughout the album are good natured and inviting, sometimes self deprecating, and never pedantic. And the playing seems faultless even though she can joke about jarring misplayed notes (by someone else).
And whatever your tastes in music you'll occasionally hear snatches of "tunes" that you know from cultural experiences ranging from movies to old Bugs Bunny cartoons. All in all, a delight.
Some of the proceeds from sales of the album, release date April 23, will be donated to the John DeCamp Fund "helping veterans heal through music and caring."
THE RECORD-JOURNAL (CT)
By Jim Pasinski 4/2013
CD Review: Annalisa Ewald Releases Live Versions Of Classical Guitar Compositions
Classical guitarist Annalisa Ewald will be releasing her new live album entitled "Live At The Factory Underground." The album offers fifteen wonderful songs based on South America as her interaction with the audience in between songs is fun, but minimal. The music is so laid-back and relaxing that the only thing that breaks your attention is the applause.
As only a handful of the songs break the two-minute mark, the short, but powerful pieces of music pays the proper respect to past composers like Daniel Fortea, Rodrigo Riera and Julio Sagreras. Ewald is one of the most respected classical guitarists among fans of rock, blues and country and her performances of "Farucca" and "Por Una Cabeza" can attest to that. The two bonus songs ("Vals Venezolano #1" and "Vals Venezolano #2") are some of the best performances on this album as Ewald pours her passion in these pieces of music.
Annalisa Ewald still continues to teach students in her Norwalk, CT guitar studio as well as perform live. A portion of the proceeds from the album's sale will be donated to the John DeCamp Fund to help veterans heal though music and caring. For more information on her new album, please visit annalisaewald.net.
More about the album -- Liner Notes:
On October 22, 2012, a raucous group of friends and musicians gathered together for a very special night of intense celebration at The Factory Underground Studio in Norwalk, Connecticut. The large recording studio had been transformed into a nightclub for music lovers and became a festival for everyone who believed that life is good and good times are what living is all about. Three acts were scheduled to play that night and as the only soloist and "classical" player I had the task of opening the event, grabbing the audience by the collar and letting them know that this night was not going to be soon forgotten.
Candlelit café tables, ratty couches, multiple cocktail stations amidst jungle vines of recording wires overhead and underfoot created a setting most unlike Carnegie Hall. Which was all to the good. Intentionally, this recording places the classical guitar in surroundings less formal and more intimate than its modern setting of the concert hall and pristine recordings. The idea was to put the guitar back in its birthplace of hazy candlelit gathering places where old troubles are forgotten, passions ignited and new troubles born.
The guitar is an amazing instrument: its first appeared around 1500 in Spain, and was designed specifically to play chords. It could also play melody and harmony which gave it a flexibility other instruments did not have. In short from the very beginning it could and still does "sing" in a uniquely expressive and passionate voice.
The guitar was immediately embraced by the common people and was soon incorporated into their dance and song traditions throughout the old and new worlds. The uniqueness of its design opened a wonderful new musical door, one that allowed for the evolution of very sophisticated, multilayered interwoven threads of sound and complex chord structures. Unfortunately this also led eventually to an established canon of material, a cult of perfectionism and "competitions" - all of which took the guitar far from its original roots. What I love about the music I selected for that night: the Argentine tangos, Spanish folk music, Brazilian choros, and even a couple of "cousins" from the Renaissance courts - is that this music is alive, slightly dirty and feeds on rowdy crowds. To me guitar music has always been like a sonic visit to the most interesting person in the world. To stretch this metaphor, there are walls of books on fascinating subjects, cool things on shelves brought back from journeys all over the world, great things to eat and drink and a twinkle in the eye of your host, who is truly glad to see you. The guitar has always been that host to me, that amazing "person," and I wanted to share its music with the crowd that exuberant evening in the nightclub studio. The evening was beautifully gritty, filled with laughter and the audience was loud. Perfect.
Annalisa Ewald Biography:
At the very start Annalisa was always drawn to music; at age three she made the local papers for breaching etiquette for sneaking out of the yard and inviting herself to a birthday party when she heard the music. Musical Instruments fascinated her. As a young girl she learned to pull ropes and play the giant tower bells at Washington National Cathedral, and after school, she and her choir friends hand-build a harpsichord.
But it was when she first saw the French classical guitar composer and performer Ida Presti she knew her life would be focused on the guitar. Ida's electrifying performance combining beautiful technique and glamorous presentation sealed the deal. Annalisa started playing Classical Guitar at the age of 10. Two years later she began lessons at the famed Guitar Shop in Washington, D.C. At age 14 she was noticed by the classical guitar great Sophocles Papas who took her on as his protégée. Papas and the Guitar Shop was the epicenter for classical guitar in the United States at the time and exposed Annalisa to many great players like Andrés Segovia, who made a point of stopping in and paying homage to Papas when they performed in the DC area.
Annalisa graduated from high school early to enroll at St John's College in Annapolis, well-known for its innovative Great Books curriculum. After completing two years of study, she decided that her passion for classical guitar needed to take top priority and enrolled at the San Francisco Conservatory. However, she felt that the conservatory's emphasis on theory and method over musical expression was not a good fit.
Inspired by the passion of a flamenco troupe, Annalisa decided to forgo classical guitar competitions and exams and instead to seek out the best teachers she could find. Her guitar skills took flight as she sought out and studied with the versatile, talented Karl Herreshoff, and then world-renowned classical guitarist Turan-Mirza Kamal. For the past nineteen years, Annalisa has been learning from the internationally sought-after master teacher and lutenist Patrick O'Brien. Along the way, she learned to play the Baroque guitar, cittern and theorbo. She also earned her B.A. in classical guitar performance at Bard College.
Annalisa's passion led her to cultivate a repertoire of music that spans over 400 years, from early and baroque music to contemporary classics. A great part of Annalisa's attraction among audiences is that she shares secrets of the guitar's long history from and gives an audience the cultural & musical context behind the music; from the knife-wielding Jacaras music of sixteenth century criminals, the lascivious beginnings of some of the baroque era music and South American classical guitar pieces that risked imprisonment when performed. Her ability to express beautiful guitar playing within its historical setting is why Annalisa is widely embraced and at home with fans of rock, blues, bluegrass and other mainstream genres. She bridges the historical gap and conveys the common roots of the music, allowing listeners to inhabit a aural landscape which they populate with their own imagery, thoughts, feelings and emotions. The listener becomes the co-author and the experience becomes more meaningful to them.
Annalisa has won rave reviews for her amazing playing and her unique approach of placing the music ahead of the performer. Her crisp imagery and crafting of sonic landscapes make her performances a delightful experience of immersion into pure analog pleasure as she brings forth the true soul of musical compositions to reach in and pierce a listener's heart. She is a favorite at numerous music festivals, having performed at the Boston Early Music Festival, Santa Barbara Bach Festival, Laurel Festival, and Manitou Festival. Annalisa has also been awarded multiple grants for concert series by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) for the creation, production, and performance of musical events of outstanding professional quality. She continues the tradition of teaching individually to a select group of dedicated students in her Sono Guitar Studio located in Norwalk, Connecticut.
A portion of the album sale will be donated to the John DeCamp Fund helping veterans heal through music and caring.
Management: Cliff Foyster - Dionysian Media Visit http://www.annalisaewald....
More Information: http://www.annalisaewald.net/