An extraordinary guitar programme to open the Liepāja Art Forum

An extraordinary guitar programme to open the Liepāja Art Forum

On 29 September at 19.00, Scottish guitar virtuoso Sean Shibe, who has been hailed by the prestigious classical music magazine Gramophone as “one of the finest guitarists in the business”, will perform in Latvia for the first time. The musician will open the contemporary art festival “Liepāja Art Forum” organised by the concert hall “Great Amber” by premiering his programme “Out there” – a novel performance of electric and acoustic guitar, with works by contemporary and antique composers.

Sean Schibe delivers inspired performances that are characterised by deep musicality and passionate interpretations of the classics. He is at the forefront of a new generation of guitarists – the first to be selected for BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists project, winning two Gramophone and Opus Klassik awards for his recordings. His ability to fuse genres and musical periods in an original way, thus contributing to the rise of the classical guitar, earned him the 2022 Leonard Bernstein Award. Remarkably, this is the first time this prize has been awarded to a guitarist.

The versatile musician has produced a duo of electric and acoustic guitar for the festival’s opening concert, titled “Out there”. It is a masterly blend of works by famous contemporary and ancient composers that resound with spirituality and mysticism.

The concert will include compositions by 20th century pioneers and greats – Olivier Messiaen, Julius Eastman, Sofia Gubaidulina and Agustín Barrios Mangoré, the founder of minimalism, Steve Reich, and the synthesiser of genres, Julia Wolfe, along with composers from the past – the classical Johann Sebastian Bach and the medieval mystic Hildegard Von Bingen.

Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint will be among the most evocative compositions performed on electric guitar. Sean Schibe’s interpretation of this piece is one of the best ever written, according to the composer. “His playing of the underscored full-length sounds throughout, especially in the slow movement, evokes a harmonic landscape that has never been heard before. The balancing or 'mix' he creates is amazing – it highlights all the mid- and off-voices in relief from beginning to end. His choice of guitar is also perfect,” says Steve Reich.

VIDEO. Sean Schibe performing Steve Reich's “Electric Counterpoint”:

Sean Schibe is a critically acclaimed, multi-talented and groundbreaking guitarist. Shibe has performed on the biggest festival and venues including London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and London’s Southbank Centre. His repertoire ranges from Bach’s 17th century flute suites to contemporary new works. His latest album Lost & Found includes repertoire by various composers recorded on electric guitar.

From 29 September to 1 October, the “Liepāja Art Forum'23” festival will celebrate diversity in art and society, bringing eight different events to four venues across the city. We will immerse in the distant, resonant voices of American a cappella and the nearby, lonesome voices of seniors.