Playing up the role of the humble guitar

Guitar scholar, teacher and composer Vangelis Boundounis, a former close associate of Manos Hadjidakis, is bringing together 100 guitarists from all over Greece in a concert/celebration at the Herod Atticus Theater on Wednesday evening. The concert, titled «One Hundred Guitars,» features soloists Maro Razi, Haris Kanellis and Vangelis Boundounis on guitar, Greek National Opera soprano Elpiniki Zervou on vocals, Lydia Boundouni on violin, Constantinos Boundounis on cello and Constantinos Constantopoulos on the mandolin. The program, furthermore, spans flamenco melodies, tunes by Hadjidakis that Boundounis has transcribed for the guitar, compositions by Boundounis himself, works by Bach, Albeniz, Schubert, Boccherini and Piazzolla, anonymously penned ballads and Brazilian dances by Celso Machado. What Boundounis attempts in this concert is to showcase the guitar itself and project its potential as an orchestral instrument. In his note in the Hellenic Festival program (of which the concert is a part), Boundounis points out that «. ..guitarists are not used to playing together in large numbers. Given the additional problems of coordination (since it is a plucked instrument) and tuning, the chances are that such a venture would be considered impossible.» «Nevertheless,» writes the composer, «I’ve been preoccupied with the idea of a guitar orchestra for quite a while.» The biggest challenge for Boundounis was to find repertoire for a large number of guitars. He wrote his own compositions to this end, but also transcribed numerous Hadjidakis works with the composer’s support and cooperation. Boundounis has transcribed for the guitar all of Bach’s works for lute, as well as publishing a series of nine books on «The Guitar Technique» (Paparigopoulou-Nakas Publications), in which he analyzes and revises established musical theories concerning the guitar. He has also written compositions for one or two guitars, as well as three suites in concerto form for two guitars and an orchestra. Early steps Boundounis first began working on the idea of an orchestra of guitars some 20 years ago when he organized a large guitar seminar in Rethymnon, Crete. This seminar was what drew the attention, and then support, of Hadjidakis. Over the years, the ensemble, whose core comprises 24 graduate musicians (all of whom were Boundounis’s students), has performed around Greece with a repertory that embraces original works and transcriptions, covering Renaissance and Baroque music (Praetorius, Bach, Vivaldi), classical compositions (Mozart, Beethoven), music from films (Rota, Gershwin) and even tunes by the Beatles and Pink Floyd. The performance starts at 9 p.m. For ticket details, see «What’s On.»