Editor’s Note: Lorian Bartle is a guitarist and music educator in Denver. Her career has spanned more than two decades. She is noted for her graceful playing and her melding of classical guitar with more uniquely stylistic flourishes that brush upon the traditions of folk music and other genres.
This interview was conducted via email.
Interviewology: What was your favorite musical instrument growing up? At what age did you begin playing an instrument?
Lorian Bartle: I always had an affinity for string instruments. I began taking violin lessons at age 7. When I was 15, I switched to the guitar. I began my guitar studies learning chords and singing Beatles songs, but soon began to learn classical guitar. The guitar is such an intimate instrument due to the direct hand contact one has with the strings and the ability to create a myriad of different tone colors. I have been hooked to the beautiful sounds and wonderful repertoire of the classical guitar ever since.
Interviewology: Describe your path and evolution as a musician.
L B: I received a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Vassar College and Master of Music degree in music theory at Florida State University. Following my university studies, I received extensive post-graduate private instruction from guitarist Ricardo Iznaola. In addition, I took private voice lessons from Kevin Kennedy and Katrina Twitty. I worked as an elementary music teacher for 12 years and have running a guitar studio and performing in the Denver area since 2012.
Interviewology: How would you describe your teaching philosophy as a music educator?
L B: I encourage my students to experience the joy of playing an instrument by developing skills that lead to confident playing: (1) acquiring a solid playing technique (2) applying music theory to performance (3) cultivating artistic expression. Students are given three studio performance opportunities per year in community-based settings to share their musical gifts with others.
Interviewology: If you could play with any musician who would it be?
L B: I would play classical guitar duets with Christopher Parkening, the American guitarist who brought classical guitar into mainstream America. Christopher Parkening recordings are unabashedly expressive. His technique always served to express his musical intent. In addition, he has a very humble approach to his accomplishments on the guitar and is an engaging storyteller, both in his music and interviews.
Interviewology: Which musicians have inspired you the most along your path?
L B: Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin’s musical accomplishments made during a time in which female guitarists were few and far between was very inspirational to me during my teens and 20s. Conductor Marin Alsop’s engaging, informative approach to conducting was an additional inspiration to me. I was fortunate enough to live in Denver when she was the principal conductor of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
Interviewology: Do you believe classical music has a demographic issue regarding attracting younger audiences? What would you say to orchestras to increase their audience?
L B: I definitely think it takes innovative programming approaches and effective marketing to attract younger audiences to classical music. The most effective marketing of classical music involves classical musicians reaching out and performing in their communities outside the concert hall. I believe that the coffee house singer-songwriters should be an inspiration to classical musicians as far as connecting with a community in intimate community venues goes.
Interviewology: What was the most rewarding artistic experience you have had so far?
L B: It is hard to pinpoint one specific performance that was the most rewarding–I have experienced so many! One performance that stands out in my mind was playing at the Foothills Art Center member night opening for an art exhibition. Performing instrumental music from the ages while surrounded by beautiful glass sculptures was an exquisite experience! In contrast, I have been very inspired performing for Alzheimer patients who don’t recognize people around them, but have vivid musical memories which allow them to lift their voices in song.
Interviewology: Describe your relationship to philanthropy as a musician. Have you ever played to help or enchant others on a pro bono basis?
L B: I began my evolution as a performer by volunteering at local senior homes. In addition, I performed during church services and at open mics. I gained valuable performance experience in interactive performance settings. To this day, I perform new repertoire in community-based settings to gain a deeper understanding of my music with an appreciative audience.
Interviewology: How do you feel about experimental approaches to classical music? Are their any composers from the 20th century that you enjoy?
L B: I wrote my thesis on twelve-tone music by Anton Webern, so I definitely am a proponent of innovative approaches to music! Additionally, I enjoy watching developments in opera with creative staging, new compositions, and unorthodox musical writing. I think that many of today’s experimental approaches to music are taking place in the world of opera.