Celebrated Aussie guitar duo Grigoryan Brothers to play in Kolkata
Growing up in a musical family — their dad being a violinist and mum playing the viola — it was inevitable that Slava and Leonard would be drawn to a career in music. “We both started playing the guitar when we were quite young, around four years of age,” recalls Slava, who now tours and performs with Leonard, as the famed Aussie guitar duo, Grigoryan Brothers.
Needless to emphasise, their parents played a major role in building their musical tastes. “They both love all kinds of music rather than preferring a particular style, as long as the music says something. We grew up listening to classical, rock, pop, jazz and other forms of music. So, while we are classically trained, we love experimenting and introducing new repertoire to our chosen instrument,” Leonard explains.
Here to perform at the 10th Calcutta International Classical Guitar Festival and Competition, the brothers had a chat with Indulge about their music, and more. Excerpts:
How was it composing for the film, A Boy Called Sailboat?
A Boy Called Sailboat is an award-winning film made by Cameron Nugent (writer & director) and Andrew Curry (producer). Shot in New Mexico, it has a certain Australian sensibility to it, and presented new challenges as we had never written/arranged a full movie score. Also, set in the deep South of the US, there had to be a certain Latin theme. We just responded to what we felt a particular scene required.
How has your music changed over the years?
As musicians, we are constantly looking for new challenges, ideas, and collaborations. The most significant change would be moving away from performing standard repertoire and expanding our horizons through new music and interesting collaborations.
You have collaborated with a few iconic musicians including Canadian singer/ songwriter KD Lang, and flamenco guitarist Peco Pena. Tell us about your most memorable collaboration.
Over the years, we have collaborated with the amazing Austrian guitarist/composer Wolfgang Muthspiel. This is memorable because we developed an entire concert programme with Wolfgang incorporating his compositions, our compositions and other pieces that we feel work in the trio format. Like us, Wolfgang was classically trained, but has his own ‘voice’ on the guitar, and playing with him brings certain ease and familiarity. Playing an array of guitars (electric, classical, twelve-string and baritone) in this trio added a unique harmonic dimension.
What are your other upcoming projects?
In June/July next year, we are collaborating with the Australian vocalist Paul Capsis, who’s presenting an adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning author Thornton Wilder’s novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Paul is the only actor in the play, and we join him on stage providing the music to his creation.
We are also working on a commission with a museum in Australia, to write music based on items in its collection, which will premiere in 2021, and we also plan to record this work in collaboration with other Australian musicians.
Which genre of Indian music do you like the most, and with whom have you collaborated so far?
We’ve worked with quite a few wonderful Indian musicians. Trilok Gurtu, Bobby Singh, Raju Sharma and a lot of great instrumentalists at the Rajasthan International Folk Festival. We adore all kinds of Indian music.
Listen to Grigoryan Brothers play today at 6.30 pm at ICCR.