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An album of new works written for classical guitar quartet by Olivier Bensa, Christopher Gainey, Ronald Pearl and David Smooke.
107 backers pledged $5,560 to help bring this project to life.

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Atlantic Guitar Quartet - Debut Recording

The Atlantic Guitar Quartet is a Baltimore-based chamber ensemble dedicated to expanding the guitar repertoire by commissioning and performing new works by some of today's most exciting and innovative composers. 

This debut album will feature music by French composer and guitarist Olivier Bensa, as well as works written specifically for the quartet by composers Christopher GaineyRonald Pearl and David Smooke

All music is performed by Petrit Ceku, Kevin Shannon, Zoe Johnstone Stewart and Jonathan Zwi.

The quartet has already completed the recording of the raw tracks and is raising funds to complete the editing, mastering and final production of the album. 

Your contribution will help the Atlantic Guitar Quartet present this great music with the highest possible quality and detail.

About the Music:

Be Not Afeard: Music From Prospero's Island (2012)     Ronald Pearl

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Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

                              Shakespeare, The Tempest

"I have always been fond of this moment in The Tempest where Caliban describes for the newcomers to the island that the sounds they’ll hear around them will be foreign and strange, enchanting and enticing. In looking to write a work for the Atlantic Guitar Quartet, I turned to this passage for inspiration. The result was a five-movement suite, Be Not Afeard: Music from Prospero’s Island. Each movement takes its title and mood from a different extract of the passage"....Ronald Pearl

Meltwater (2012)                                                     Christopher Gainey

"Over the past 10 years, I have lived in three different time zones, and this has caused a certain increase in my appreciation for large environmental processes. When I was living in Baltimore and visiting my family in Pennsylvania, I vividly remember the first time I drove past a sign marking one edge of the “Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”

The immensity of this system, stretching as far north as upstate New York and as far south as Virginia, and the beauty of the slowly flowing water that shapes it fills me with a type of awe that I am unable to adequately describe.

From Baltimore, I moved to Iowa, gaining an hour and crossing the Mississippi into an unassuming Grant Wood dream world of languid muddy rivers and bucolic rolling hills. Little did I know that I was soon to have the extremely humbling experience of frantically stacking sandbags as the floods of 2008 consumed portions of Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. This was a tragedy to be sure, but I don’t remember ever seeing people working so hard to save the houses of total strangers.

I live now in Vancouver, British Columbia, three hours behind Baltimore and across a well- guarded invisible line. Despite this barrier, I have been able to spend time hiking the mountains and coastline of the Pacific Northwest from Tacoma to Whistler often witnessing water flowing off of a melting glacier in the morning, and streams rushing into the Salish Sea in the evening. This condensed and dramatically dynamic environmental system has helped to solidify my conception of the scope and impact of water as a natural force, and as a metaphor for musical form.

Meltwater would not have been possible without this shift in perspective. At times the music trickles, at other times it engulfs. Often serene, but sometimes violent, the music moves between textures, beautiful and harsh. But it always flows"..... Christopher Gainey

Topographies: map (and Distortions) (2012)                David Smooke

"The Topographies series of pieces consider how our memory of a place differs from the place itself. As I was conceiving this composition, I kept in mind the images found in the series of light boxes created by the guitarist and artist Jonathan Zwi, which for me evoked the idea of alien landscapes as viewed from a great height. I convey this ideal vision of impossible maps in the music as motives echo throughout the ensemble, but distorted through the use of various unusual objects to create the sounds themselves and also through the detuning of the middle two guitars. The music of Topographies 2 gradually explores various sonic regions".... David Smooke

La Grande Terre  (2010)                                                Olivier Bensa

French composer and guitarist Olivier Bensa's musical identity has been strongly influenced by two guitar greats: Pedro Soler (a flamenco guitarist) and Oscar Cacérès (his first major guitar teacher).  From Cacérès, Bensa claims to have inherited his craving for music of all genres and his passion for baroque music, chamber music and an instinct for transcription.

In La Grande Terre, Bensa evokes different stages of the Earth's development, its beings and the ideas and concepts they create. 

Through carefully selected extended techniques, Bensa elicits a sense of the Earth's primordial beginnings in Mineral.

Eclosion presents an insatiable rhythmic drive and unique timbres and textures to represent the hatchings and evolutionary multiplication of simple creatures.

Cercle represents the mysterious cyclical existence found on the smallest scale to the largest in a movement that has points to an undefinable quality in the cycles of life.

Words, ideas and cultural constructs are represented in Paroles with more explicit references to contemporary culture.

Memoire acts as a compositional synthesis of the entire work by quoting representative motivic fragments that were presented and developed in previous four movements.  However, the quotations are not employed ah hoc, but rather the entire movement function on a psychological level, giving the impression of distant sounds and ideas that once were.

Sample Images

Painting, photography and poster design by Jonathan Zwi

Video Text:

T​he meaning of a musical work goes beyond notes written on a page

​O​r even the sounds that represent those notes

The interpretation and presentation of a musical work have as much to do with its artistic meaning as do such fundamental aspects as notation or pitch

The Atlantic Guitar Quartet is dedicated to presenting unique works of significant artistic and intellectual value by living composers -

​- ​works that are musically accessible and emotionally Inspiring

With major institutional support from the Presser Foundation and the Peabody Conservatory - and in collaboration with composers, dancers, choreographers, painters, photographers and filmmakers -

- the Atlantic Guitar Quartet serves as a catalyst for the creation and presentation of important new works in the expansion of an entire genre

​T​heir debut album will feature music by Olivier Bensa as well as world premieres by Christopher Gainey, Ronald Pearl and David Smooke who have written and dedicated their music to the Atlantic Guitar Quartet

Help support the Atlantic Guitar Quartet in actively expanding the concept, presentation and definition of classical guitar performance

Video by Caleb Freese

Music ​b​y Olivier Bensa

Performance by David DeDionisio, Kevin Shannon, Zoe Johnstone Stewart and Jonathan Zwi

Risks and challenges

We are glad to say that the hard work is already done!

The most demanding and artistically challenging work is now behind us. After years of innumerable rehearsals and three days of recording in the studio, the biggest part of the project has been completed.

We are now in need of the funds for the final phase of post production: mixing, editing, art direction and manufacturing of the actual CDs.

If you help us meet our goal, it will be smooth sailing until the CDs are ready to ship!

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    Digital download of the entire album.

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    (1) A hard copy of our album, signed and shipped to your doorstep!! and (2) an invitation to our CD release event in Baltimore, to be held Fall of 2013 **Please inquire about international shipping.

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    (1) A hard copy of our CD (2) a thank you in our 2013-14 concert program, (3) an invitation to our CD release event and (4) TWO TICKETS to either performance at the Engineer's Club of Baltimore: November 17, 2013 or May 9, 2014

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    (1) A hard copy of our CD, (2) a thank you in our 2013 - 2014 concert program, (3) an invitation to our CD release event, (4) two tickets to either performance at the Engineer's Club AND (5) an 8.5x11 inch PRINT OF ORIGINAL ARTWORK by Jonathan Zwi.

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    (1) TWO hard copies of our CD, (2) a thank you in our 2013-14 concert program, (3) an invitation to our CD release event, (4) two tickets to either performance at the Engineer's Club, (5) a LARGE PRINT (11x14 inch) of original artwork and (6) a 1-hour private lesson with a member of AGQ.

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    (1) Two hard copies of our CD, (2) a thank you in our 2013-14 concert program, (3) an invitation to our CD release event, (4) two tickets to either performance at the Engineer's Club, (5) a large print (11x14 inch) of original artwork, (6) a 1-hour private lesson with a member of AGQ, (7) a LARGE CONCERT POSTER, to be picked up after a performance at the Engineer's Club and (8) a PRIVATE CONCERT by the Atlantic Guitar Quartet (to be performed in Baltimore, MD).

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    (1) Two hard copies of our CD, (2) a thank you in our 2013-14 concert program, (3) an invitation to our CD release event, (4) two tickets to either performance at the Engineer´s Club, (5) TWO LARGE PRINTS (11x14 inch) of original artwork, (6) TWO 1-hour private lessons with members of AGQ (7) a large concert poster (8) OFFICIAL CREDIT in CD booklet and (9) a PRIVATE CONCERT by the Atlantic Guitar Quartet (within 75 miles of Baltimore MD).

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    (1) FOUR hard copies of our CD, (2) a thank you in our 2013-14 concert program, (3) an invitation to our CD release event, (4) TWO TICKETS for BOTH performances at the Engineer´s Club, (5) an 11x14 inch print of original artwork, (6) FOUR 1-hour private lessons with members of AGQ, (7) a large concert poster, (8) official credit in CD booklet and (9) a PRIVATE CONCERT by the Atlantic Guitar Quartet (within 200 miles of Baltimore MD).

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Funding period

- (30 days)