Ian Kelleher

Guitar Recital

Wednesday 8 May 2019 – 1:00-1:40 pm



Today On Wednesday 8 May 2019, we welcomed to Brentwood Cathedral the guitarist Ian Kelleher who, in spite of the blustery spring showers across Essex, attracted a sizable lunchtime audience, hoping for a sunnier musical climate. We were not disappointed! The recital was introduced by Nina Howe, who is responsible for the Marketing and Publicity of concerts and recitals at the Cathedral, and who warmly greeted all the music enthusiasts.


Presenting a truly international programme of music from composers of six different nationalities, for his first piece, Ian brought a South American imagery to the recital with three movements from ‘Five Préludes for Guitar’, by the famous Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959). In this work, completed in 1940, we hear various influences from folk to J. S. Bach. ‘Prélude No.1 – Homage to the Brazilian people’ (also known as ‘Lyric Melody’) began with a gently reflective sound, followed by a lively up-beat section. In ‘Prélude No.3 – Homage to Bach’ we heard the distinctive tones of the open strings of the guitar, after which came the more familiar connection to Bach, with descending melodic sequences and clear harmonies. ‘Prélude No.5 – Homage to social life’ was written in a waltzing 6/4 time and transported us to the dance halls of Rio de Janeiro. Ian delighted us with his immaculate playing, whilst drawing us into the wonderfully contrasting moods of this work.


Ian then paid his own homage to J. S. Bach (1685-1750), by giving us a most sensitive rendition of the much-loved Prélude No.1 in C Major, from Book 1 of Bach’s ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’, composed in 1722. Often performed at a variety of musical venues, you could be forgiven for adding Charles Gounod’s beautiful vocal setting of ‘Ave Maria’ in your mind (known as the ‘Bach / Gounod’), to this prelude. However, the guitar version we heard today, combined with the Cathedral’s bright acoustics, was all the collaboration we needed to enjoy this baroque favourite.


Continuing with a very different style, Ian played ‘The “Sakura” Variations’ (“Cherry Blossom”) by Japanese composer Yuquijiro Yocoh (b. 1925), also known as Yukihiro Yoko, who left dental college to become a self-taught guitarist and composer. “Sakura”, depicting spring and the five stages of the cherry blossom, is his best-known work and has been performed and recorded by countless guitarists worldwide. By engaging so delicately with the traditional Japanese ‘folk song’, Ian helped us to visualise the Japanese cherry blossom season.

Revisiting South America, Ian’s next piece was ‘Verano Porteno’ (‘Buenos Aires Summer’) from ‘The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires’, written in 1965 by the Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) – known for combining jazz with classical music and creating the ‘nuevo tango’. The guitar arrangement was by Benitez, with an earlier one by Desyatnikov for solo violin and strings linking Piazzolla with Vivaldi! This was a colourful and cheerful piece, leading us smoothly to ‘Gnossienne No. 1’ by French composer Erik Satie (1866-1925), arranged for guitar by Dyens. It is one of several of its kind for piano by Satie, who invented this style of musical form. The haunting melodic phrases were familiar to many of us, and so expressive on the guitar, demonstrated by Ian’s appropriate use of subtle rubato, enhancing the sentiments of the work.


For his final piece, Ian entertained us with ‘Asturias (Leyenda)’ by Catalan composer Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909), written for piano in the early 1890s and arranged for guitar by the virtuoso Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia. It is Albeniz’s most frequently played work and ideal for the climax of a guitar recital, with its distinctive flamenco style. It begins with a driving, exciting theme which increases in energy, continuing with a poignant melancholic section, before returning to the opening theme. Ian shared his enthusiasm with a passionate and articulate performance, after which the audience showed their appreciation for the whole concert with loud applause.


On behalf of Andrew Wright, Director of Music, we would like to thank Ian Kelleher for his beautiful guitar playing this afternoon, and for chatting with us in the Song School afterwards. We wish Ian well in his forthcoming engagements and look forward to hearing him again at Brentwood Cathedral.

Julia Bentham


Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887 – 1959) From 5 Preludes for Guitar

Prelude No. 1 – Homage to the Brazilian people
Prelude No. 3 – Homage to Bach
Prelude No. 5 – Homage to social life

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) Prelude No. 1 in C
Yuquijiro Yocoh (b. 1925) The “Sakura” Variations
Astor Piazzolla (1921 – 1992) arr. Benitez Verano Porteňo (The Summer of Buenos Aires)
Erik Satie (1866 – 1925) arr. Dyens Gnossienne No. 1
Isaac Albeniz (1860 – 1909) arr. Segovia Asturias (Leyenda)

Programme biography notes:

“Ian Kelleher’s formal guitar study culminated with the completion of the prestigious Advanced Solo Studies Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama way back in 1990! Since then he has developed his passion for teaching and continued to pursue his performing interests in both solo and ensemble playing. He has enriched his musical understanding with travel and two Masters Degrees. Ian’s recent project is running the Great Dunmow Guitar Club to help players develop their performance skills and to promote the guitar and its music. He currently teaches in Essex and Hertfordshire. Ian recorded his first CD “Imagens” with guitarist Sue Williams in 2012. His first solo CD “Far from Home” was released in 2014 and his latest recording “Time and Place” was released in April 2016. The last few years have seen an increasing concert schedule in the South-East both as soloist and in a duo with ‘cellist Charles Ellis. Concerts of note include Wimpole Hall (National Trust) Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Lauderdale House (London), The Foundling Museum (London), Southend Civic Theatre. Forthcoming solo recitals include Hemel Hemstead, Chelmsford Cathedral, Woodbridge Library and the United Reformed Church, Bishop’s Stortford.”

For more information on Ian, please go to his website

Admission is free, but we welcome your contribution towards our expenses. If you are a UK tax payer please consider using Gift Aid to increase the value of your donation by a quarter.

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