Exotic fusion

• Perth guitarist Glenn Rogers.

LIVE music makes a welcome return to the Pakenham Street Arts Space this Sunday with a performance by guitar virtuoso Glenn Rogers and friends.

The Perth guitarist/composer trained in jazz and classical music, and has played with symphony orchestras across the world.

But these days he’s a bit of a musical wanderlust, exploring music from other cultures, especially those with Hindustani and Carnatic origins.

“The first half of the concert at PSAS will be me on solo guitar – mostly European jazz influences and some Indian influences played on classical and 12 string,” Rogers says.

“The second half will feature Jonathan Paget on guitar and Mary-Anne Blades on flute, playing a suite composed by me – three movements based on Indian ragas and Carnatic rhythms.

“It’s a major work that contributes substantially to the repertoire of flute and guitar music. It’s highly complex and demands a lot from the musicians.”

Rogers was so enthusiastic about India he went on two trips there to study Carnatic music – a classical sub-genre from Southern India that has a singing style – and Konokol, which emphasises vocal rhythms.

On his return he did a masters on applying a Carnatic approach to western music, which was the inspiration for the guitar and flute suite performed at PSAS.

“I studied with local percussionists in India and learned so much from them. They had amazing talent,” he says.

“Konokol was a complete musical mystery when I first heard it. Once I studied it I realised it is perhaps the best rhythmic system in the word, especially for teaching purposes.”  

Rogers took up the guitar at the beginning of high school, tinkering with rock and blues before going on to study classical and jazz. 

“I had to work at it; I don’t sort of particularly believe in talent, I think it’s just hard work a lot of the time. 

“I was really into improvising and jazz, especially European jazz, and jazz fused with classical music.”

He cites Ralph Towner, John McLaughlin, Bill Frisell and Pat Methany as major influences, saying “I like composers more than just guitar heroes.”  

Rogers has written music for numerous ensembles for planetarium domes in America and Australia, and two interactive multimedia operas The Horla and Liminal. 

The guitarist teaches in schools across Perth as part of the government’s Instrumental Music School, and holds a bachelors and masters in music from Edith Cowan University.

But on Sunday he will wow audiences with his exotic guitar fusion.

“I really like ethnic, jazz and classical music – that’s my three tastes,” he says.

“When they all combine together it creates something a bit unique and special.”

Glenn Rogers and friends is on tomorrow (Sunday December 6) 5pm at PSAS as part of the Hemispheres 21 music series.

Tix at events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/hemispheres-21-glenn-rogers

By STEPHEN POLLOCK

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