On Saturday, November 16, 2019, The Faculty Concert Series presented “Powerful Guitar Classics: The power of Music, Religion, and Science” at Monteabaro Recital Hall at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. The featured performer for the Saturday concert was local and masterful classical guitarist, Bruce Casteel. Casteel has performed professionally since 1965. He studied at Peabody Preparatory and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. He presently teaches guitar and piano both at his own studio and at the college.
Bruce Casteel’s music is rich and inspired.
The show opened with Casteel providing the musical background to poetry read by Barbara Brickman and Dr. Timothy Michael. The music played by Casteel was by 12-13th Century composers, Bernard de Ventadour, and Gaulcelm Fadit. The highlights of the first part of the performance (before Intermission) were Casteel’s guitar solos. This included “I Sought Knowledge” by Orlando de Lasso in the 16th Century, “Song of the Emperor” by Luys de Narvaez written in the 16th Century, “Fantasia Ottava” written in 1568 by Vincenzo Galilei (Galileo’s father) and “Fantasia” written by John Dowland who wrote for the British courts in the 16th and 17th Centuries. These were interspersed with skits written by Casteel who performed them with Valerie Lash, the Dean of Arts and Humanities and Professor of Theatre at HCC.
After Intermission we heard an interesting piece by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco “Capriccio Diabolico.” Tedesco, who was Jewish, fled Italy with the rise of anti-Semitism and moved to California where he wrote scores for MGM movies and became an American citizen. He wrote this piece for the famed Spanish classical guitarist Andre Segovia.
Casteel also treated us to an original composition he wrote in 1969 to commemorate the moon landing, “The Apollo Suite.” Both “Capriccio Diabolico” and “The Apollo Suite” were written for the classical guitar and allowed us to see Casteel’s extraordinary range as a guitarist. The earlier pieces were written for lutes or other instruments and lacked the musical subtleties of the Tedesco and Casteel compositions.
As an encore, Casteel performed “Grand Sonata, first movement” by Fernando Sor in the 18th-19th Century.
Bruce Casteel’s music is rich and inspired. If you missed his music, he performs regularly at Howard County venues.
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.
Howard Community College will be performing several future Faculty Concerts. For information on the concerts and for tickets go to their website.
Note: Ms. Brall has a personal connection with Mr. Casteel. However, this did not affect her review.