Unquestionably, one of the coolest and most inspiring things to come out of the pandemic lockdown in the classical guitar world is the Virtual Guitar Orchestra, a huge, free-floating, variably sized guitar army that has come together (virtually, and appropriately socially distanced, of course) a few times over the past year for a series of amazing performances of brilliantly arranged pieces. The ever-shifting international cast of guitarists spans everything from guitar students to the most skilled and well-known professionals. If you follow classical guitar fairly closely, you’ll undoubtedly encounter many names you know. Somehow, the performances never seem unwieldy or cluttered-sounding. It feels like everyone is serving the overall sound and vibe instead of competing for attention—yet there are always many moments of sheer virtuosity that take your breath away.
This latest amalgamation finds another stellar group performing the world premiere of an Adam Del Monte flamenco piece called Relampinños, which my handy Goggle translator tells me means “whipping” in Spanish. Among the scores of players who appear (sometimes labeled) are, from the classical side, Angel Romero, Eliot Fisk , Rene Izquierdo, Goran Krivokapić, Rafael Aguirre, Vladimir Gorbach, Anabel Montesinos, Joaquin Clerch, Jiji Kim, Artyom Dervoed, Laura Oltman, Michael Newman, Denis Azabagić, Kyuhee Park, and Evan Taucher, among many others. However, the sometimes blistering solos mid-piece all come from great flamenco players, including (in order of their solos) Amós Lora, Pedro Sierra, Samuelito, Vahagni, and Adam Del Monte. Fantastic!
Major props to VGO creators Mak Grgic, Adam Del Monte and Uros Baric; to main sponsors the GSI Foundation and Augustine Strings; and supporters Strings By Mail and the Connecticut Guitar Festival. Would it sound greedy to ask for MORE?! —Blair Jackson
And in case you missed these earlier ones: