Media Page -- Coverage by the News Media
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Arts & Entertainment Friday, September 1, 2001
Classical guitar with a twist of humor
Musician James Hunley
To perform at the Palace theater
By Leslie Lang
For the Tribune "Herald
Classical guitarist James Hunley noticed a lot of tension some years back as he prepared to perform for Hilo's concert society during his only previous visit to Hilo.
Someone finally explained that the society's featured guest musician the previous season had been a nightmare. Just before
she went on, she couldn't find her earrings backstage and she refused to perform. "She wanted them to announce to the audience that whoever stole her earrings needed to replace them or she wouldn't play, "said Hunley. He says she did finally play, but only after someone on the Board of Directors offered to replace the jewelry.
Hunley had fun with the story when he performed for the same group. "I played the first piece, and then I stopped and said
"Excuse me. Has anyone seen my earrings?
The story is indicitive of Los Angeles resident Hunleys relaxed style of performing.
"Life is just to short not to have fun. I sometimes greet the audience at the door when they come in. I want to have a little more of a relaxed atmosphere, to talk about the music, about my dog eating my music for this concert, for instance.
Cliche or not, it really happened. Hunley left the music to one of his pieces on his parents patio recently, and later his mother asked him. "You know the music you left on the patio? Is it something important because Lady just ate it.
The 36 year old- the only professional musician in his family-has played classical guitar since age 13.As a teenager he got up at 4 a.m. to practice before school and also practiced in to the evening.
At one point he paid for guitar lessons by diving for golf balls.
He refers to himself as having been a military brat who moved frequently as a child. He performed at restaurants when his family lived in San Angelo, Texas where several patrons were so impressed with his talent they sponsored him at the San Francisco
Conservatory of music.
He practices between seven and nine hours every day.
I don't get lost in a piece. I've played the pieces maybe 400-500 times. When I'm playing in the perfect condition, I'm not aware of myself or the audience. The music is almost happening in a Zen aspect of the moment; the music is just coming from somewhere it's just coming through me.
Hunley's Sept. 16 concert at the Palace theatre features highlights
of the Segovia repertoire and new Flamencos and tangos. Right now, I'm playing super well. My hands are really in great shape and the pieces are exceptionally beautiful. Except I have to figure out what to do about the piece the Spaniel ate.
Hunley is a big fan of the Big Island and says he would live here if he could. I's such a long trip from Hawaii to Europe, though.
But the more I travel, the more I want to be on the Big Island.
It's amazing to see lava going into the ocean,the giant sea turtles in Pahala, the manta rays in Kona
And on Kaui,I listened to kids play the Ukulele. They were wonderful. Outside of Hawaii, people don't know how beautiful the ukulele is" I play around with it but nothing like those kids.
It is really a beautiful insturment."
"Heart Strings Article
By Eric Hansen, Daily Sun
THE VILLAGES - A musician Oscar Feliu characterized as "easily one of the best guitarists I've seen in the past 10 years" performed at Church on the Square Wednesday evening.
Classical guitarist James Russell Hunley demonstrated a combination of technical mastery and sense of humor rarely encountered in his field.
Dressed in Dockers slacks and a casual dress shirt, Hunley presented himself as a contradiction to Andres Segovia, a classical guitarist famous for asking those who coughed during he performances to leave.
At Wednesday's show, the Los Angeles resident shared his love for the guitar with the audience "It's a blast to play, " he said after -Spanish Dance No. 5- by Granados "and told jokes: "Church is the only institution I know of where, if You're late, you have to sit up front."
Even making light of his own casual manner, Hunley recounted a scene from The Wedding Singer movie that ends with the line, "I don't have to shut up "I've got the microphone. The audience rested easy during the humorous interludes
"He has such a great personality, so fun," said Jerry Rutledge, a Villages resident. "I've never heard such a classical guitarist before.-
Feliu commented, "Many musicians have an aura that they must be catered to. He doesn't have any of that, which is nice to see in a musician of his caliber."
Complementing Hunley's knack for crowd interaction was his obvious devotion to musical technique.
His left hand ran up and down the guitar's neck while the fingers of his right hand deftly picked at the strings. Hunley played songs off his most recent album, R.S.V.P., including "Lagrima" by Tarrega, "Sound of Bells" by Guimaraes, "Etude No. 8" by Villa Lobos and "Leyenda" by Albeniz.
"You sit here and are mesmerized because you can't imagine how (his fingers) move so fast," Corailie Daniels, a resident of The Villages, said". "I noticed that (Feliu) was very intently watching the guitarist, too."
Himself a classical guitarist, Feliu said he grew up hearing the instrument in Chile. "I have a great appreciation for the difficulty that is offered by the classical guitar," he said.
Hunley made guitar playing sound easy, saying, "When you play anything 500 or 600 times in a row, slowly, you're mind will pick it up."
He contradicted the belief that a great musician must start playing at 6 years old.
"The classical guitar is one of the few instruments that it's harder to pick up at an early age than an older age, " he said, adding that fingertips are one of last parts of the human body to fully develop.
The guitar became Hunleys passion when he was a boy, living on an Air Force base in Texas. A graduate of the San Francisco conservatory of Music, Hunley now has his own television show in California.
"This guy's pretty sharp", Anthony Marinaccio said Wednesday. "This audience is enjoying it. I could tell by their reaction."
Hunley is expected to make a return appearance at the church as part of the Gift of Music series. The guitarists parents live in Eustis. (Florida)
October 7, 2001
ARTESIA - One of the Nation's leading Classical Guitarists, James Hunley,
will appear in a classical guitar event entitled, "an Evening in the Gardens of Spain"
at 4 p.m. on October 14, at the Artesia Arts Council, 510 W. Main St.
His performance will feature the Spanish Master works for the classical guitar
and an insight to the crazy, impulsive life of a touring Musician.
Hunley takes his own path to the classical music scene, a sense of Humor.
One press release says of his performance " too much fun for a classical concert"!
The images of the Gardens of the Alhambra, the amazing Churches of Seville and Cordoba
will be projected behind Hunley's Performance.
Hunley uses film and video to visually enhance
and communicate his music to his listeners, and the results are exceptional.
He has a unique non-traditional, but refreshing approach,br> which has endeared him to many. The point he makes is that classical
is as accessible as any other type of music once people shed the fear of it.
He adds zing to his concerts with a few music jokes and stories. Sometimes the jokes or anecdotes stem from previous events,
like touring Oregon during hunting season. He told an audience,
"Other than the trees, the people with the guns make me feel like I'm back in Los Angeles".
One recent critic commented,
"James Hunley demonstrated a combination of technical mastery and a sense of humor rarely encountered in his field."
Nova Rietmann, in reviewing a Hunley performance, wrote,
"One note, skillfully played, silenced the room
as the melodious sound seemed to dance in the air...After the first piece
all paused in awe, then clapped their hands in praise."
Guitar has dominated Hunley's life since age 13. He studied at the San Francisco conservatory of Music, and today
continues to produce sounds that captivate his audiences. Hunley, who now resides in Los Angeles, California divides his time between
performing and producing. His television show, "The Acoustic Experience,is still being aired in northern California with
episodes of acoustic music, luthiers and guests. He is an advocate for demystifying classical music
and believes in using film and video to visually communicate its internal dialogue.
He has served as executive producer for many classical music videos, including Pepe Romero's :
Recuerdos de la Alhambra.
"His own music video," La Catedral,"went international via the Arts Channel on Satellite, Galaxy 1, and was
also broadcast during prime time on New York's KNYC.
Hunley's concert program will include selections from his recording, "Lasting Impressions",the works of Albeniz, Lauro
and Barrios and from his latest CD, "R.S.V.P." which was released in January, 1998.
Hunley is currently working on a
new CD, "An Evening in the Gardens of Spain"