Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vancouver Flashback IV

Chapter 16

Robert Chris Jordan

Robert C. Jordan
Robert C. Jordan, or Chris Jordan as we knew him then, came onto the Vancouver classical guitar scene around 1965 and became a familiar face to all those lovers of classical guitar who were around the Mediterranean shop and elsewhere in the city.

He had previously played violin with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and was a truly professional musician who had performed widely. He studied guitar with Eduardo Sainz de la Maza in Barcelona and later worked with Julian Bream in Stratford, Ontario.

etudesClick to listen to Etude No.9 in MIDI format.
Sequenced by Dmitri Bachovich

I was interested in his rather unusual right hand finger technique, learned from Sainz de la Maza and so took some lessons with him for a while. He introduced me to the Matteo Carcassi Intermediate Etudes Op.60 arranged by Karl Scheit, which I found to be very good and later passed on to a couple of my own more advanced students.

decampThe Guitar Player - Joseph De Camp 1908

Chris Jordan played often at guitar meetings in my old rented house on west 27th Ave. and was one of the founding members of The Vancouver Classical Guitar Society. I remember going with Chris and Bill Lewis in Chris' Volkswagen beetle driving one evening from Vancouver down to Seattle to see a concert by Julian Bream. I believe we drove back to Vancouver again the same night. We were all very enthusiastic...and those times.
Here is more about Robert Chris Jordan.

Barry Hall

Barry Hall
Barry was a popular and talented folk musician who played both guitar and five-string banjo. He was a performer in and around Vancouver who came to teach both guitar and banjo in the Mediterranean shop. As a teenager, he made a record for Folkways Records called The Virtuoso Five-String Banjo.

5 string banjo
Here is a clip of Barry performing Little Maggie.

Barry later left the Mediterranean shop to teach in Bill Lewis' Music studio. Here is a writeup from that time.

As far as I know at present, Robert C. Jordan is still teaching classical guitar in Vancouver and Barry Hall is still performing there on the folk music scenario.
I have fond memories of both of them from those past times.

2 guitars Les Deux Guitars - Suzanne Delbays

Continue on to Chapter 17...... Vancouver Flashback V - Bill Lewis

Go back to Chapter 15......Vancouver Flashback III - Mike Dunn & Ray Nurse

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vancouver Flashback III

Chapter 15

Teaching guitar was enjoyable and I looked forward to my evenings at the Mediterranean Shop, as well as those nights when I gave beginner's folk accompaniment at the YMCA in downtown Vancouver. Before leaving for Spain, Bill Lewis had suggested I take classes in advanced theory and harmony from a retired European university music professor friend of his who lived in east Vancouver, so that was added to my agenda. Those hours were good for me, as they nurtured the spaces inside that needed filling. I loved to study so it was rewarding to have a new challenge.

varsity grill
On evenings when there was a lull in lessons at the shop, some of us would go a few doors up the street for a quick Chinese dinner at The Varsity Grill, where generous quantities of the best Chinese food in memory could be bought by hungry students at a weekly or monthly rate. It was owned and run by Bing, a friendly oriental man with an incredible memory for names and faces. Together with family members he operated one of the first home delivery services, which I made use of many times.

Here are some of the people who were active in and around the Mediterranean Shop or in the guitar circle at that time:

Michael Dunn:

Michael Dunn Photo by Victor Smith

Mike started working on guitar repairs for George Bowden during the time Bill Lewis was in Spain. He played flamenco guitar and was an admirer of the gypsy-jazz style of Django Reinhardt. A familiar face around the shop, Mike was also present at some of the gatherings and guitar socials in the old house on west 27th Ave.

After Bill Lewis returned from the guitar factory in Mallorca, Mike went over to Spain for a couple of years to study the methods of guitar construction from the Spanish luthiers Jose Orti and Jose Ferrer in George Bowden's factory. Upon returning to Vancouver he worked together with Ray Nurse to build lutes and with Edward Turner to build harpsichords.
More is written about Mike Dunn on this link.

Mike has been making music in a band, lecturing and building custom art guitars in his Vancouver workshop. He is recognized as one of Canada's top instrument builders and one of the world’s leading luthiers in the Maccaferri and Selmer style.
Here is another link from Michael with photos of guitars he has made. And yet another link from the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Ray Nurse:

Ray Nurse
Ray Nurse was another highly talented performer and luthier who was present in the days of The Mediterranean Shop, working with George Bowden and Mike Dunn.

The following text from article by The Lute Society of America:
He has performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia, and appeared on many broadcasts and recordings. His research has led him to museums and libraries around the world and he is in constant demand as a teacher at workshops. A versatile performing musician, instrument maker and researcher in historical music, Nurse was a founding member of Early Music Vancouver, The New World Consort, the Vancouver Chamber Choir and Pacific Baroque Orchestra.

He originally studied voice and musicology at the Department of Music at the University of British Columbia and in 1972 he won the Vancouver Met auditions. During the 1970s he took a break from singing to pursue other interests, studying lute performance and lute-making. Since the 1980s he has concentrated on early music performance and research, with special interest in early singing and opera, and directing The New World Consort (1982-1989), which toured extensively in Europe and North America.

He currently co-directs the Baroque Vocal Programme in the Vancouver Early Music Programme at U.B.C., coaches early music for the U.B.C. Dept of Music, is professionally active as a lutenist, accompanist, and continuo player, and continues to build instruments for selected customers.
More about Ray Nurse on this link.

Continue on to Chapter 16...... Vancouver Flashback IV - Robert C. Jordan & Barry Hall

Go back to Chapter 14......Vancouver Flashback II - My Students & Edward R. Turner

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vancouver Flashback - II

Chapter 14

Those first weeks learning to play went by quickly. Since George Bowden had loaned me one of his new guitar models to try out I practised for hours every day, enjoying the mellow sound of a real Spanish-made instrument. After I'd been studying for three months Bill Lewis asked me if I would come in and start teaching the youngest of the beginner students. It was a great compliment and I was eager to try.

Renoir jeune espagnoleJeune Espagnole Avec Une Guitare - Renoir

At that time folk music was in a peak and many young people wanted to emulate Bob Dylan, Joan Baez or The Beatles and become popular as the one who could play and sing for their friends. Old guitars were being taken down from walls to be handed over to the youngster of the family and both were brought into the guitar shop in the hope that lessons would help their child learn the basics enough to at least play simple tunes, and hopefully go further.

Unfortunately many of those basement room wall guitars should have just stayed on the wall as a decoration since they were unplayable, and had warped necks which raised the strings an impossible distance above the fingerboard so that tiny fingers would not be able to press them down. I had to communicate this to the parents in the hope that they could afford to buy a minimum quality student guitar. As is true for most musical instruments, they must have a certain level in order to be playable, and produce a sound decent enough that a student feels encouraged by his efforts.

renoir - La joueuse La Joueuse - Renoir

I started teaching both classical technique and folk accompaniment to my young students and was careful to start them off with correct body and hand positions, making sure they established good habits which didn't have to be undone later when they attempted to play more difficult pieces. It was challenging but I enjoyed teaching immensely and was soon taking on older students and adults.

The Mediterranean Shop was a happy place, filled with interesting people coming in to visit or take lessons as well as attracting an increasing number of experienced guitarists who were willing to give lessons or were interested in new instruments. Bill Lewis and George Bowden had a workshop set up in a back room where guitars were repaired and adjusted. I loved the smell of the wood and breathed deeply of that familiar aroma whenever I entered the guitar shop. Then Mr. G.(Bowden) decided to send Bill Lewis to Spain, to his factory in Palma de Mallorca in order to better learn the guitar building techniques used there.

Matisse la musique La Musique - Henri Matisse

Meanwhile many of the classical guitarists as well as those who played flamenco or jazz were congregating around the Mediterranean shop and visiting the large old rented house that my husband and I had up in the Dunbar area of Vancouver on west 27th Avenue. We wanted to establish a Classical Guitar Society so we started having meetings there about once a month. The classical guitarists would congregate on the main floor, the flamencos in the attic and the folk players and jazz aficionados were in the basement. Those were fun times and more than once the remains of my Sunday roast ended up as roast beef and pickle sandwiches to feed a hungry group at the end of our meetings.

Turner Organistrum
The Turner Organistrum - photo from the Canadian Museum of Civilization

At that time my husband started a little factory in the basement, producing 5-string banjos. We also had a basement room which we rented out for a period of time to our friend Ted Turner, (Edward R. Turner) who had studied at the École des Beaux Arts de Montreal and in later years became world famous as a graphic artist, lecturer, builder of harpsichords and replicas of early stringed instruments, such as the organistrum. He also produced reproductions of historic aircraft and designed sailboats. (Ted I'm glad to hear you survived my rather inexperienced cooking from those days when you shared our table, and so happy to hear of your success.)

Edward R.Turner
Photo from the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Here is a link from the Canadian Museum of Civilization about Edward R. Turner, and another link about him from the Canadian Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

There are more interesting people from this group of friends who have gone on to add their talent to Canada's musical heritage. I will write about them in the next pages.

And one day, after much writing and rewriting of our constitution and charter, over coffees and sandwiches in that old house on west 27th Avenue, we officially became The Vancouver Classical Guitar Society.

Continue on to Chapter 15...... Vancouver Flashback III - Mike Dunn & Ray Nurse

Go back to Chapter 13......Vancouver Flashback I - The Mediterranean Shop
Related Posts with Thumbnails