It was a happy coincidence that I bumped into Will McNicol in Chengdu when I was on my way to my Mum’s 96th birthday.
I was met at the airport by Will, Xu Bao and Joshua Jiao and rushed to a restaurant in an emergency food dash.
Will had been touring China with his own super charged yet gentle brand of acoustic music which he played on a new crossover guitar made by Martinez. This is a nylon strung instrument with a longer neck (the neck meets the body at the 14th fret) and a slightly shallower body. Will had just played in Chengdu the night before, following on from ten or more concerts throughout China, ably assisted by Josh.
After a wonderful lunch which culminated in the smashing of a wine glass while I was on a swing (don’t ask) we were joined by Alex Wang, CEO of Martinez. The following, slightly inebriated interview(s) discussing the future of the guitar in China, connections, Will’s music, life, the universe etc followed without further breakages .
A clip from Will’s latest recording
Will was voted Acoustic Guitarist of the Year by Guitarist Magazine in 2011.
Here is his piece “The Wakeup”.
Will McNicol is a seriously gifted guitarist who playas and writes his own material. His concerts often include music by other musicians such as Thomas Leeb.
I gave him a couple of lessons when he was preparing for his Fellowship of Trinity College in London, where he was playing Bach’s Chaconne and Sor’s Sonata Op.25.
I was amazed with the facility with which he turned to playing steel string guitar, and the acoustic guitar is now his main instrument.
Will’s playing has won him numerous awards, most recently being Guitarist Magazine’s coveted UK Acoustic Guitarist of the Year 2011, held at London’s Southbank Centre.
Recently, I was lucky enough that he came and played in the shed – we had an evening of beautiful music and a great party afterwards! It was particularly gratifying that his first teacher, Maurice Albin was present,beaming in the front row.
Here is an interview with Will after that occasion, followed by a couple of candid videos.
The alternative performing space I like best is Goldberg’s room next door to his boss Count Kaiserling. The Count was an insomniac and used to get Goldberg to play the clavichord to while away the night – no iPod or TV!
I often wonder how Goldberg must have spent his day and when he had time to practise! Of course, this would all have been a footnote in history if Forkel, Bach’s biographer had not written that Count Kaiserling had commissioned old Bach to write his eponymous set of variations for Goldberg. The Count was reported to have said, frequently ‘Dear Goldberg, do play me one of my variations.’
A few years back, where would you have been able to listen to the following guitarists in a more or less regular series for free? Xue Fei Yang, Johannes Moller, David Leisner, Alison Smith, the Eden Stell Duo, Gerald Garcia and Alison Bendy?