Montreal Guitar Trio offers unique sound
Music: Group returns to Turner Valley for Beneath the Arch performance
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 08:33 am
The fast-fingered pace of three Montreal musicians is sure to get toes tapping in Turner Valley this weekend.
Montreal Guitar Trio’s Sébastien Dufour, Marc Morin and Glenn Lévesque return to the Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall by popular demand for a classical performance on Jan. 12 at 3 p.m. after displaying their unique style two years ago as part of the Beneath the Arch Concert Series.
“It was a very incredible experience,” recalls Dufour. “We totally remember Turner Valley. The people there were so enthusiastic. The place was jumping. We are really looking forward to going back.”
Beneath the Arch selections committee chairperson Suzanne Searle is excited to have the trio back. After watching them on YouTube three years ago she decided to include them in the Sunday afternoon classical series a year later.
“I’d never seen them live before but I certainly was familiar with their music,” she said. “They write their own music, they do some classics, they kind of mix it up. They are very accomplished.”
And the crowd loved them.
“Our audience was absolutely blown away,” Searle said. “Some of our audience has seen classical guitar, but certainly not played at the level that these fellows can play it. It’s top-quality, world-class, absolutely.”
Searle fondly remembers the Montreal Guitar Trio’s rendition of George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
“It honestly made me cry, it was so beautiful,” she said.
What impresses Searle most is each musician performs a different arrangement during the same piece.
“Three guys play intricate complex parts at sometimes 90 miles an hour,” she said. “You have three guitars doing three different parts that is very carefully choreographed to each piece. It’s a stunning display of musicianship. It’s something to see.”
Dufour said the trio’s talents stretch beyond Mozart and Beethoven. In fact, each musician spent his teen years playing heavy metal and rock music.
“When you hear songs like Metallica, usually there is a classical intro at the beginning,” he said. “Same with Ozzie Osbourne. His guitar player studied classical music and incorporated it in the music.”
Dufour said the classical components were the most interesting part of performing rock and heavy metal music, leading him to study the nine-string classical guitar at the University of Montreal.
Having performed together for 15 years now, Dufour, Morin and Lévesque are constantly expanding their musical interests and sharing with each other.
Tours to different countries exposed the Montreal Guitar Trio to various styles of music and influenced them in how they perform today, said Dufour.
Although they don’t have time on the road to study it, they learn from watching YouTube videos and other musicians, enabling them to mix flamenco and Argentinean tango with Cuban music and Nordic with Brazilian samba and progressive rock.
“We are always becoming better musicians,” said Dufour. “You discover other kinds of music and different kinds of instruments and it’s interesting to bring it into our composition, to try to blend all of those together and find the best way to make it fit.”
These varied styles of music allow each musician to perform a different sound, he said.
“What we really want to do is try to bring some new sounds on the guitar,” he said. “Sometimes we use some special tuning and special techniques that could recreate the guitar sound.”
For instance, one member of the trio might tune his guitar to imitate a bass sound and another might perform a more exotic style of music.
“We try to approach the guitar as an artist,” he said. “We really experiment with the guitar to bring a whole range.”