Touring concert brings guitar music to the world – and Kirkland

Ask Brian Gore how he became the leader of a touring guitar festival, and he’ll tell you what sounds like the setup for a joke.

  • Monday, February 2, 2009 11:51pm
  • Life
Argentinean guitarist Cecilia Zabala will perform as part of the lineup for the touring concert at KPC on Feb. 6. COURTESY PHOTO

Argentinean guitarist Cecilia Zabala will perform as part of the lineup for the touring concert at KPC on Feb. 6. COURTESY PHOTO

Finger-style guitarist Brian Gore brings acoustic line-up to Kirkland Performance Center Feb. 6

Ask Brian Gore how he became the leader of a touring guitar festival, and he’ll tell you what sounds like the setup for a joke.

“I stumbled into a bar in North Beach,” he said during a recent phone interview.

Actually, he corrected himself, it was a little Spanish eatery called La Bodega in San Francisco. That was where Gore met the fellow guitarist with whom he produced his first local guitar concert series.

After that series, Gore said, “I still had the (performing) bug.” He started playing guitar concerts at a little underground venue in Berkeley, drawing sizable crowds. The success gave him hope that he could turn his passion for acoustic guitar music into a bigger, better show.

“I thought, ‘What would it be like if we tried to get it into a theater?’” he said. Thus International Guitar Night was born.

The show

Billed as a “mobile guitar festival,” International Guitar Night is a touring concert featuring exceptional finger-style guitarists from a wide range of genres, all of whom compose their own original works.

The show comes to Kirkland with a performance 8 p.m. Feb. 6 at Kirkland Performance Center.

“The emphasis of the show is on acoustic guitar in all its variants,” Gore said. “We try to have players who are just really, really good musicians.”

The artists

The show, which debuted in 1995, changes its lineup of musicians for each new tour.

The current tour features four artists: Pierre Bensusan, Benjamin Verdery, Cecilia Zabala and Gore himself.

World music guitarist Bensusan has toured with Gore twice before, and he was one of the people to suggest Verdery, a classical guitar performer/composer with a flair for the unusual (he once performed a composition with a basketball, Gore noted). In the case of Argentinean guitarist Zabala, Gore didn’t know her either by reputation, or through word-of-mouth. Gore found her through MySpace.

“I had been looking for many years to find someone from Argentina,” Gore said. After hearing Zabala’s music on the Internet, he decided she was exactly the musician he sought. “(Zabala) was the first one I asked to be on this tour,” he said.

The music

During each concert, the guitarists perform solo pieces in the first set, followed by collaborative works in the second, showing off both the diversity and harmony that can be achieved with different guitar styles.

“We’ve got some great collaborations,” Gore said. “And there’s a piece that was composed specifically for this tour.”

For Gore, it’s been quite a journey from playing small gigs in San Francisco to touring the United States, Canada, and even Europe (twice) with top guitarists from around the world. The best part of it all, he says, is being able to expose new listeners to the beauty of acoustic guitar music.

“Guitar is a very, very positive thing for people to be exposed to,” he said. “We love being able to come to the towns and bring guitar music to these places.”

Tickets are $15-$32; see

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