Watching classical guitarist Adrián Montero Moya play live solo or with a chamber orchestra, or hearing his recordings, reveals a player dedicated to the craft and tradition of classical music, but also a passionate advocate of the importance of classical music in the modern space. Originally from Costa Rica, the University of Rhode Island (URI) graduate student, who will perform at the URI Guitar Festival this month, is a direct translator of the music he is performing, offering context and personality, all while relaying the core message of the composer’s intent.
“I started with theory and reading scores, but it took me a while to connect the dots and understand the importance of it,” Montero Moya says, whose definition of classical music is less about a period of time in a determined region and more about an experience. “For me, classical music has to do with a written tradition, a sound aesthetic, and certain instrumentation, not so different from any other genre, which each has its own codes and symbols, philosophies, and aesthetics, but there is an underlying ‘truth’ that permeates all music; that is the human experience.”
Classical music is often seen as rigid, dictated by the score, when in fact the beauty of it is to creatively depart from what’s on the score, according to Montera Moya. “Beneath the notes, it is our job to explore the material, understand why it works as it does, and ultimately translate this into sound.”
Though classical music is composed and written, it’s up to the performers to bring themselves to the work and make it their own while also being the messenger of the existing piece. It’s a task of translation that Montera Moya takes seriously, and brings his own philosophy to. “Classical musicians tend to focus more on the delivery of a clear idea of a written piece,” he shares. “That doesn’t mean we just reproduce notes on paper; a score is like a puzzle, and you have to connect all the dots so the audience can receive the message clearly and pristinely…I believe as a performer, not a composer, our artistry resides in our repertoire, how we organize it, and our sound…I hope the people that listen to me can recognize my sound as a large spectrum of colors.”
Montero Moya is currently a teaching assistant at URI’s music department, studying for his master’s degree in classical guitar performance. What started as a dream to study abroad turned into reality when URI professor Adam Levin reached out on Facebook inviting him to Kingston to study, a last-minute opportunity that led Montero Moya on his path to exploring new contexts of classical music.
In preparing for the URI Guitar Festival, Montero Moya says, “Not everyone is familiar with the ‘formality’ of classical music, and this is why I love the festival so much; you will literally find something for everyone.” With experience playing in remote areas in Costa Rica where classical concerts are a rarity, Montero Moya is drawn to the energy of those new to the genre. “I am magnetized by the intimacy and the connection with audience members who are experiencing the classical guitar for the first time.”
The URI Guitar Festival is dedicated to classical and folk traditions from around the world. This year Montero Moya will kick off the first concert, Costa Rica meets Greece, on October 18 of the five-day event, sharing the stage with fellow Costa Rican guitarist Jeisson Ramirez and Greek guitarist Filippos Manoloudis, followed by After Hours with the Artists.
Find the full schedule of lectures, performances, and more along with venue locations and registration at URIGuitarFestival.org
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