Music

Meet the ambassador of the guitar - Mircea Gogoncea

Mircea Gogoncea

Mircea Gogoncea   | Photo Credit: Liza George

Guitarist Mircea Gogoncea is busy capturing on video the sights and sounds around him when I meet him at the Goethe-Zentrum Trivandrum. “It is for a documentary on the benefit tour I am on right now,” says Mircea, as he settles down for the interview.

The six-week-long music tour, which started in Paris, has brought him to India, wherein he will be performing in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Surat next, before flying off to Nigeria. As part of a project, Guitar-Goods-for-Nigeria, which helps aspiring guitarists in Nigeria obtain proper musical instruments and training in music, Mircea will be handing over a guitar donated by Aditya Gandhi from Ahmedabad to Nigerian Olushola Festeus Hamilton during his concert in Nigeria.

The project took shape when Taiwo from Nigeria approached Mircea online for advice on how to play a certain composition. “I made a few YouTube videos and posted some on Facebook as he said that the Internet connectivity was poor in Nigeria for Skype sessions. He sent me a recording of him playing and the instrument sounded terrible. I asked him which instrument he was on and he confirmed my suspicion of it being a converted acoustic guitar,” says Mircea, who has performed in five continents and is considered one of the guitarists with the highest number of awards in the world.

According to Mircea, although music is popular in Nigeria, there are no proper music stores or classical guitar teachers. Taiwo himself is a self-taught artiste. Hearing of Taiwo’s plight, a musician friend of Mircea’s volunteered to donate a guitar. “He, however, had to withdraw his offer due to personal reasons. As I had promised Taiwo a guitar, I couldn’t go back on my word. That is when I sent an appeal online.”

Two people responded to his request. “Cristina Ramirez, an heiress of Ramirez Guitar, a Spanish manufacturer of concert quality classical and flamenco guitars, offered to donate a guitar, and, so did Aditya.”

The tour of India, says Mircea, apart from being a fund raiser to obtain more guitars for the musicians in Nigeria, “was also the only way I could pick up and deliver Olushola’s guitar. We couldn’t send the guitar by post as Nigerian customs is strict.” Taiwo will be the recipient of Cristina’s guitar.

Mircea hopes that the project will also raise enough for free music lessons for aspiring musicians in Nigeria by professional artistes. “I want to create a community of trained classical guitarists who will pass on the knowledge to other hopeful musicians.”

A guitar prodigy, 26-year-old Mircea grew up in Romania before moving to Germany to pursue music. “My parents wanted the best for me and so they enrolled me in lessons in nearly every field – right from mathematics to photography to theatre. When it came to music, my parents decided to sign me up for piano classes. Although I was excelling in playing the piano I had to discontinue as the teacher insisted that my parents get me a piano. They could not afford one. It was then that my mother heard of a professional guitarist who was offering free guitar lessons and so I was enrolled in his class at the age of four. I have performed centre stage from the age of five.”

Mircea says, he knew that the guitar was something he wanted to specialise in by the age of nine. “Each classical piece tells a story, which I enjoy narrating through my music. I love how the guitar captures the attention of every listener with its varied tonal colours; the music is almost hypnotic,” says the guitarist, who plans to pursue a doctorate in music from the University of Southern California in the United States.

The artiste, who specialises in playing classical music written for the guitar and folk music from around the world, says that many people are under the misconception that classical music is solely about composers such as Beethovan and Mozart. “There are composers from the 20th and even 21st century. I prefer playing more contemporary pieces. I am out to prove that classical music is and can be diverse. In fact, in my concert in Kolkata, a few members of the audience came up to me saying that they did not know that the guitar was so versatile, and classical music compositions, so expansive,” says Mircea, who will be screening the documentary video of his tour in Germany when he returns.

So, what next? “I will be performing in Luxembourg and Madrid soon. I have collaborated with a few artistes and the albums will be out early next year. I also hope to organise more crowd funding events like the one for Nigeria; I want the classical guitar community to grow.”

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 9:35:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/mircea-gogoncea-hopes-to-build-a-growing-community-of-classical-guitarists/article23433712.ece

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