An Interview with Cary Savage

Happy New Year.

What are some of the best aspects to living in Montreal? One of the best aspects of living in Montreal is the multiculturalism. The diversity of languages, foods, and arts is very enriching for an artist or anybody for that matter. I also love to be so close to the countryside. In a matter of 40 minutes you can go from attending the annual Montreal Jazz Festival to taking a hike in the Laurentides.

Are you currently recording? I have just finished a recording dedicated to the music of J.S. Bach and Isaac Albéniz. I chose these two composers because they were the most influential in my pursuit of learning the guitar. Even though Albéniz never wrote for the guitar, his music is reminiscient of the folk music from Spain. Albeniz was very fond of the guitar and he was a fan of the transcriptions that the famous Spanish guitarist and composer Francisco Tarrega made of his music.

Do you compose music? I do compose some short pieces preludes and etudes for guitar. I definitely spend more time working on transcriptions and interpretations of works I adore by some of the great composers of our time. My first CD is representative of the variety of composers that I look up to.

Tell us about some of your collaborative music projects and ensembles.
For the past few years, I have been working primarily on performing concerts for solo guitar. I love the feeling of being on stage alone with complete control over the music being performed.
In the past I have performed in a variety of ensembles including a duo for two guitars, voice and guitar, violin and guitar, and flute and guitar. The guitar works well in a variety of small ensembles. I never use amplification so I prefer to play in small ensembles where all the nuances of the guitar can be heard.

Where is the best place to perform music?
I love to perform in old cathedrals and churches. I love the church St. Jean Baptiste in Montreal. This is where I recorded my first CD. I have also played a couple of concerts there. The natural reverb lends itself well to the guitar especially with the music of Bach.

Do you play any instruments other than guitar?
I played some piano but I have dedicated myself solely to the guitar. It takes a lifetime to master the instrument.

Do you sing?
I sing when I am working on new works to try and figure out how I want it to sound. Any serious musician will tell you that singing is essential to any instrumentalist. It helps us transmit what we hear in our head to our instrument.

Is anyone in your family musically inclined?
My grandfather played the saxophone and performed in big band. My parents appreciate music but do not play. My father has always loved listening to jazz and big band music from the 30’s and 40’s.

Where do you go for historical sheet music?
I often shop at a large music store in Montreal called Archambault. They have a variety of sheet music for classical, Spanish, and Latin guitar. I am also a member of a guitar forum called where there are a variety of discussions about the classical guitar and a huge resource of sheet music for classical guitar.

What are a few of your goals for the upcoming year?
To play a number of concerts around the U.S. The program will be in support of my second CD.

How did you initially become interested in playing music?
I played when I was very young because my parents suggested I play an instrument. Later, when I was a teenager, I was captivated by the playing of electric guitarists Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

What was one of the most memorable performances you’ve put on?
I really enjoyed playing recently in Rochester, NY at the Memorial Art Gallery. I played there 8 years ago for my final exam of my Bachelor’s degree. My playing has changed dramatically since then so it was interesting to reflect on these changes.

Who bought your first guitar for you?
My father bought me a Fender Squier electric guitar when I was 15. After about a year, I fell in love with the acoustic guitar.

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading a book by Naomi Klein called The Shock Doctrine. I am very interested in politics and current affairs.


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