Postcard from Paraguay

Richard has arrived in Paraguay for two concerts. The first is with harpist Ismael Ledesma to play a gig at the Japanese Cultural Centre this Friday night. The concert is to mark Ismael’s 35 years of globetrotting performances and also to launch the new duo album “Ledesma y Durrant”.

The second performance is Richard’s solo concert on Tuesday at the Fausto Cultural. Preceded by a master class on the Monday, this solo concert will be Richard’s first in Paraguay since November 2013. The gig will include works by Paraguayan composers Agustin Barrios, Juan Duarte and Felipe Sosa.

A flight change in Brazil

A flight change in Brazil

A couple of days before Richard left for Paraguay there were large scale protests in the capitol Asuncion. Crowds took to the streets to rally against President Cartes’ intention to change the country’s constitution allowing the possibility of a second term of office for elected Presidents. The Congress was set on fire and one protester was killed in the demonstration. All this is happening at a time when Paraguay is enjoying record growth and prosperity.

Richard says:

“I was shocked by how much this city has changed in three and a half years. There are finished, new buildings everywhere with new roads and an air of change. I did venture into the town on my first night where large numbers of protesters were gathering – but this was a peaceful demonstration led by the young people of Asuncion.

On the way back to my hotel I bumped into Cristobal Pedersen (father of harpist and composer Kike Pedersen) and we ended up sitting on the roof of the hotel looking out across the city listening to the singing of the protesters.”

Richard’s eventful visit continued wth a press conference hosted by the French Embassy (Ismael lives in Paris) and attended by the French Ambassador, Jean-Christophe Potton and British Ambassador Jeremy Hobbs along with large numbers of journalists.

Richard continues:

“The general feeling at the press conference, voiced by several folks, was that playing music and involvement in the arts was more important than ever in the current climate. I suppose with the seriousness of political change at home and abroad some people may scoff at this – but I have seen the reality of what music can give to a community whether in the remotest parts of Perù, in the craziness of Paraguay or back home in our own fractured country. I’m very glad to be a musician at this time.”

A press conference hosted by the French Embassy and attended by the French Ambassador, Jean-Christophe Potton and British Ambassador Jeremy Hobbs

A press conference hosted by the French Embassy and attended by the French Ambassador, Jean-Christophe Potton and British Ambassador Jeremy Hobbs

Listen to a sample track from the new album:

Durrant y Ledesma is available from our online shop as downloadable mp3 files as well as studio mastering quality 96-24 files in FLAC or ALAC album zip format – or as a physical CD.

The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay

The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay

The No 26 Bus to Paraguay

Richard’s new book contains eleven, previously unreleased, beautiful new guitar pieces plus the story of how a number 26 Brighton bus took the musician Richard Durrant all the way to Paraguay.

 

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New Album Release Online

 

Richard Durrant and Ismael Ledesma have launched their eagerly awaited album Durrant y Ledesma. This album of guitar and harp music is a stunning collection of originals for guitar and harp written by both musicians; full of Paraguayan passion and rhythms teamed with European melodies.

It was the sheer joy of playing and the success of their performances that led these two leading soloists to record their first duo album: Durrant y Ledesma

But don’t just take our word for it! CLICK HERE to listen to this amazing sample track: La Balada del Indio.

Richard met Ismael in London when he was performing at the Bolivar Hall for the Ambassador of Paraguay.  Their first concert tour together came some months later in October 2016.  This whistle-stop, six date UK adventure began just one day after they played together for the very first time.  The audience reaction was incredible and it quickly became clear that producing an album was a must!

Ismael Ledesma is a cultural ambassador for Paraguay although he has based himself in France for thirty years.  He was invited to France by his uncle Kike Lucena after he finished school. He then joined the Paris circle of Latin American musicians whilst studying at the Paris Music Conservatoire. Ismael is now a successful international soloist.

English guitarist and composer Richard Durrant is no stranger to South America. During his first visit to Paraguay he was honoured as an ‘Esteemed Visitor’ to the capitol city,  Asuncion. He has appeared twice as soloist with the national orchestra, released a successful trilogy of Paraguayan albums and published a book of stories and music ‘The Number 26 Bus to Paraguay’ which catalogues his adventures and introduces guitarists to the new music he has uncovered over recent years.

Richard and Ismael will be performing together in Asuncion, Paraguay this April to mark Ismael’s 35th Anniversary tour.  In June they’ll be undertaking a short UK tour featuring music from their new album.

Durrant y Ledesma is released through Proper music Distribution. Catalogue No: TBD 002CD

The recording is now available online as mp3 files as well as studio mastering quality 96-24 files in FLAC or ALAC album zip format – only available from  www.richarddurrant.com

 

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Stringhenge takes to the Road

The Stringhenge Story

Stringehenge tour

We find out more about Richard’s strong personal connection with places and landscapes, along with two special stars accompanying him on his upcoming Stringhenge Tour 2017

The Stringhenge story is as old as the Long Man of Wilmington. Richard used to live in Wilmington Priory at the feet of The Long Man so the performance near here will have a real connection personally as well as to the landscape of the British Isles.

Another performance in this great line up will be in a church in Baulking around midsummer – in sight of the Uffington White Horse itself. 

Again highly significant as one of the real stars of this show will be Richard’s Uffington Tenor Guitar, built in Sussex by Ian Chisholm and featuring a beautiful inlay image of the horse.

And it is to Ditchling – the home town of Ian Chisholm – where the tour commences in March.

The other star will be Richard’s new six string Concert Guitar, built in Lincolnshire by Gary Southwell and made from a beautiful 5,000-year-old English oak. This ancient oak tree actually grew in North Norfolk and the challenge is now on to secure a performance as part of this tour as near as possible to where the wood in this fantastic instrument grew. Any suggestions anyone?

Richard’s music for this tour includes some real Durrant originals drawing inspiration from the hill barrows of Sussex, the flatlands of East Anglia and the mountains of Cumbria. Other pieces are chosen from eleven centuries of music. This is real roots music on the folk/classical cusp linking the mesolithic to the 21st century.

A six string Concert Guitar made from 1,500 year old bog oak

A six string Concert Guitar made from 1,500 year old bog oak

Stringhenge is as beautifully produced and richly visual as any of Durrant’s tours of recent years. It’s also unplugged allowing you to hear and feel the vibrations of the wood in these incredible guitars. As always, Durrant brilliant playing and clever weaving of intriguing tales

Stringhenge: Tour Dates 2017

Check the website for updates as new shows are being added regularly.

DITCHLING
24 March : 7:30 pm
£16 – The Old Meeting House

BEVERLEY
30 March : 7:30 pm
Toll Gavel United Church

SHOREHAM-BY-SEA
22 April : 8:00 pm
Ropetackle Arts Centre

MOLD
26 May : 8:00 pm
Theatr Clwyd

FARRINGDON
23 June : 8:00 pm
£14 – St Nicholas Church

CORSHAM
24 June : 7:30 pm
The Pound Arts Centre

Launching the Richard Durrant Academy

Richard Durrant Academy

1 March 2017 will be one of the most significant dates of Richard Durrant’s musical career with the much heralded launch of The Richard Durrant Academy.

Richard explains:

“One of my longstanding dreams has been to share the benefits of a broad and diverse musical education. My time at the Royal College of Music was precious, but then so were the jazz chords that my dad taught me, the years of gigging around in the back of a truck or standing on a stage playing Bach.”

Richard’s idea of establishing an online academy is driven by his vision to help guitarists and ukulele players of all levels become more complete musicians – free to play any style of music. Here’s a sneak preview…

But it’s not all hard graft as Richard tells us…

“As a bit of fun we’ll also be offering regular Ukulele Puzzles and Guitar Solos which we hope you’ll all find entertaining whether you’re studying or not.  Check out the first one appearing on my Facebook this Sunday evening, 19 February.”

We’ll be sending you a live link on 1 March so you can begin your studies straight away with:

  • a ten lesson guitar module
  • a ten lesson ukulele module

PLUS

  • a host of further enrichment materials.

The lessons are designed for beginners but are also ideal for more experienced players who want to improve technique and strengthen their knowledge of music.

All prices will be on the Richard Durrant Academy site when it goes live on 1 March.

But don’t miss the Special Offer…

The first 50 subscribers, and those who completed our survey, will receive a special discount. 

See you there!

Richard Durrant recording session with Ismael Ledesma

Ismael and Richard during the recording session

In addition to two fabulous concerts in Shoreham by Sea recently, guitarist Richard Durrant and Paraguayan harpist Ismael Ledesma spent a week in the studio recording their debut album.

The album will feature original works by Ledesma and Durrant and, whilst every piece they play is collaborative, they did actually write one together: Guarania para Shoreham. Other tracks include Ismael’s Balada del Indio and Amazonas along with Richard’s Crossing to Lindesfarne and Wilbury Summer.

Ismael and Richard checking the sound levels

Ismael and Richard checking the sound levels

You’ll be able to download the new album or purchase the physical CD from this website from the end of March – ahead of the official release dates.

In early April Richard and Ismael will be heading to Paraguay for a concert tour and the South American launch of the Album in Asuncion, Paraguay. The offical UK launch will be marked by a short UK tour in mid-June.

Keep your eye on this website and Richard’s Facebook page for album previews, further gigs and other news.

Richard Durrant’s two-wheeled adventures

Richard Durrant's cycling tour

In recent years, the great two-wheeled eco-warrior Richard Durrant has cycled over 3,000 miles playing his famous Cycling Music concerts around England and Scotland.

So how did all this begin?

During an average year of playing concerts Richard travels 35,000 miles, which is why he undertakes much of his spring and summer touring on a bicycle carrying his stage show in his panniers and trailer. Being conscious of his disgracefully large carbon footprint, he decided back in 2014 it was time to pay something back to the environment by creating Cycling Music.

Richard Durrant Cycling Music

Cycling Music has become a huge success with tours in 2014 and 2015 during which he cycled the length and breadth of England and Scotland towing a cycle trailer behind him containing the entire show to over 50 venues complete with guitars, music and projection equipment.  

In 2014, Cycling Music raised money for The Big C charity, based in Norwich. The following year he cycled and gigged from Sussex to the Isle of Skye, and raised money for CDF, the Cyclists’ Defence Fund.

His album Cycling Music was created especially for the tours and was featured by the BBC during their coverage of Le Tour 2014. He also appeared on ITV’s Cycle Show talking about his tours and the challenges and experiences he faced enroute.

Have a listen to some of the amazing music from the Cycling Music album in Richard’s online shop where you can also buy the CD or download tracks from the album.

Richard is spending most of February in his studio writing some exciting, new music for the year ahead, but will soon be emerging to give three talks about bicycles and music! These will be given at U3A’s (University of the 3rd Age) in the south east – one in Tenterden and two in Brighton. 

But what about plans for a third Cycling Music UK tour in 2017? Richard says: “I suspect that revisiting my pedal powered adventures will result in another plan to get back in the saddle. Any excuse will do…just hearing the music makes my legs twitch.”

A sell out start to 2017

Richard Durrant and Ismael ledesma

What a great start to the year with a sell out gig at the Ropetackle Arts Centre in another beautiful musical collaboration between Richard Durrant and Paraguayan harpist Ismael Ledesma.

One of the reasons Ismael has been working with Richard in recent weeks is to record a new joint CD. Featuring pieces by both Ismael and Richard in addition to some original Paraguayan works this is sure to be another hot seller when it is launched in March.

The No 26 Bus to Paraguay

In April the guys are heading off to Paraguay for a tour of solo and duo performances which they are really looking forward to. And a little further ahead in June they are already taking booking for a UK launch tour which will include an open air gig in Brighton, a show at the Stables at Milton Keynes – and many more!

French Ukulele Adventurers

How about a week long musical holiday in a beautiful country house near Bordeaux? The popularity of Richard’s Ukulele Circuit Training has led to him organising this fantastic opportunity of all Ukulele players from beginners to advanced from 16-21 May.

French gite

Each day there will be daily Ukulele Circuit Training sessions as well as individual and group sessions. As well as musical enrichment sessions there will also be lots of opportunities to learn from each other. At the end of the week everything comes together in a concert. But it’s not all work as a week at this inspiring, peaceful and rustic haven will also allow plenty of time for relaxing, swimming, eating and drinking in the French sunshine.

Camp fire

It’s easy to get to as well being close to Bordeaux airport which is well connected to many UK airports and just a few minutes walk from a railway station. There’s only space for 20 people so get in touch with Richard quick on info@richarddurrant.com

Happy New Year from Richard Durrant – and will you take my 30-second questionnaire?

Richard Durrant Ukulele Workshops

Dear Friends,

A very Happy New Year to you all. I hope you’ve had a fantastic Christmas and here’s to a fun-filled and fulfilling 2017!

To kick off the New Year I’ve decided to send out a questionnaire, I hope you don’t mind! Please read on.

Following the recent success of my Ukulele Circuit Training courses and the French Guitar Adventurers residential summer school, I’m launching a new venture, the Richard Durrant Guitar and Ukulele Academy.

Using the online resources offered by the Academy, this will enable me to teach and share music with fellow musicians from around the world.

I aim to explore the physicality of playing an instrument by looking at different playing styles and repertoires. I’m also particularly keen to help musicians alleviate stress and to avoid any anxiety associated with playing or performing.

And here’s where I need your help. I want to make sure that the Academy is welcoming, interesting, helpful and inspiring. Therefore, whether you currently play or not – after all, this could be just the spur you need – please spare a couple of moments to complete this short survey:

Many thanks for your time…and I’ll keep you posted as things progress. In the meantime here’s some of our events planned for 2017 – but rest assured many more will be added as the year unfolds!

Best wishes,

Richard


 

Richard Durrant’s Christmas Guitars

Trio

Richard is half way through his Christmas tour and if you’ve been following his live Facebook posts it has been going down a real treat. Most venues have been sold out and the audience feedback has been warm, enthusiastic and just fabulous wherever they have appeared:

“Truly incredible and beautiful. The most beautiful guitar playing I’ve ever heard”
Saan White – Sayers Common Church

“Brilliant concert last night. We’d never seen any of you before but you were individually superb, and collectively sublime.”
Chris Smith – Theatre Clwyd

“You were all fantastic at Cobham last week – thank you”
Katherine Gatehouse – Cobham

Meanwhile, we’ve been delving into Richards new online shop and have found the perfect Christmas gift with Richard Durrant’s Christmas Guitars – his 14 track kaleidoscopic vision of what Christmas means to this most gifted and eclectic acoustic musician.

Christmas Guitars

Available as a physical CD, full album download, or – for the real connoisseurs, a FLAC full album download. Have a listen to one of the tracks here in Mark Charlton’s film with Barry Cartledge’s photography of northern English, winter landscapes:

With Amy Kakoura’s vocals, contributions from a school choir as well as Richard’s own young children, the UK guitar maestro allies his revered technique to everything he can lay his hands on in his studio: Hammond, harpsichord, piano, cello, mandolins, ukulele and recorders are heard alongside Durrant’s guitars. And just when you think the Christmas mix cannot get any richer, up pops the gravelly voice of comedy legend Barry Cryer on ‘The Polar Bear’ – inspired by the well-documented plight of the bears in their changing Arctic environment.

Track listings

1. Winter Danza
2. Emmanuel Gloria
3. Past Three O’Clock
4. Joululaulu
5. A Christmas Eve Lullaby
6. The Secret Dance Of The Pets
7. An Acoustic Winter Solstice
8. All The Animals
9. A Northern Winter Night
10. Because Of Christmas Day
11. A Christmas Wish
12. The Polar Bear (Bear; Cubs: Ice January; The Swim; Artic Sky)
13. This World Needs To Sing
14. A Christmas Eve Lullaby (Coda)

Christmas Guitars

Other tracks include the pared-back poignancy of Finnish song ‘Joululaulu’ and Phil Jewson’s ‘Because of Christmas Day’ – written for Durrant and showcasing him in his element – gorgeous, solo guitar with nothing added. Anchoring the whole album is Durrant’s masterly tone poem ‘An Acoustic Winter Solstice’, full of icy wonder and otherworldliness.

A Quiet Word from the 13th Century

And don’t forget Richard’s other great Christmas stocking filler is A QUIET WORD FROM THE 13TH CENTURY. Also available as a physical CD, full MP3 album download and FLAC full album download,  this Christmas album features the voice of Amy Kakoura in some seasonal favourites both medieval and new including I Saw Three Ships, O Little Town of Bethlehem and Personent Hodie.