Classical guitarist to play blend of music Feb. 21 in Richland

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 18, 2014 

Mike Edmondson

There's more to playing guitar than you might think, says classical guitarist Mike Edmondson of Kennewick.

First, it has to be the right guitar.

"I play a wonderful handmade instrument by a local builder named Mike Danielson," Edmondson tells the Herald. "Mike is a retired Hanford engineer who has become a very skilled instrument builder."

Edmondson plays a blend of classical guitar music from the 17th century to today, and you can hear him play some of that music Feb. 21 at the Emerald of Siam in Richland. Music is from 5 to 8 p.m. There is no cover charge.

"My repertoire is also very diverse geographically," he adds. "Many of my favorite works originate from Latin America, mostly during the 20th century."

But he also plays a good amount of music from the European continent.

"Such as transcriptions of Johann Sebastian Bach, whom I named my son after, to early romantic composers like Mauro Giuliani," Edmondson says.

Growing up in Seattle, Edmondson was seduced by the guitar as a child.

"I don't remember a time when I didn't want to play the guitar," he says. "When I was 2 or 3 years old, I had a plastic toy guitar that I called McGuitar. Can't really say why I called it that, (but) I carried it around everywhere."

Years later after McGuitar was long gone, he added, he would listen to Metallica and Nirvana on the stereo, then dance around his living room pretending a Wiffle Ball bat was his guitar.

"I have played other instruments. My first was a French horn, and I loved it," he said. "But I was always a guitarist at heart."

By the time he got to high school, he'd learned to play the guitar well enough to perform with renowned jazz trumpeter Robin Eubanks, brother of equally renowned guitarist Kevin Eubanks.

"My band director dropped a boatload of cash to bring him to our school as a guest artist," he said.

By the time he attended college, he knew music would be his major area of studies.

He and two of his friends were the first guitarists in 20 years to earn performance degrees at Central Washington University. He went on to earn his master's degree at the University of Idaho.

"My degree at the University of Idaho was an unbelievable experience," he says. "I lost almost 30 pounds the first semester because I was commuting to campus via bicycle ,and my schedule was so grueling that I literally didn't have time for lunch, not even 10 minutes to jam a Snickers bar in my face between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m."

But he's a firm believer that when you love something enough, the pain is worth the fight.

What draws him to the classical guitar is that all the music he loves is at his fingertips.

"One of the things I found hard about playing other instruments was how when you practiced, you were just practicing your part," Edmondson said. "You had to imagine the other instruments and what they were going to be doing. With the classical guitar, you're doing it all. There's no wondering."

He also feels a closer connection to the composers whose music he plays with the classical guitar.

"With classical music in general, there is a real sense that you are sitting right there with the composer," he said. "J.S. Bach might have written these notes down 250 plus years ago, and here I am playing them.

"In a very real way you are experiencing the same inspiration that the composer felt but in your own unique way."

At the Emerald gig, he'll play a mix of music that includes Spanish serenades, and Italian and Latin American pieces.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;; Twitter: @dorioneal

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