Michael Chapdelaine

National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion

 

Reviews

"The music of Michael Chapdelaine had made a cameo appearance in Adam Holzman's encore, but nothing could have prepared us for the arrival

of the man himself. A time-served classical guitarist who, in his own words, 'used to have a tuxedo', Chapdelaine has now reinvented himself as a

ponytailed fingerstyle rocker, who performs on a metal-strung acoustic hooked up to powerful amplification while grooving around the stage to

the beat of his own potent compositions. It's well-known that, when classical guitarists attempt to cross the divide, the bridge usually breaks

halfway, assuming they even get that far.  But Michael Chapdelaine has built his own bridge on his own terms and has grown from being a highly

competent classical guitarist (as demonstrated on a superb retrospective CD titled The DBX Reels) into one of the most dynamic and free-thinking

live performers you'll see anywhere on any instrument. Most astonishing of all was his wild reworking of Saudade No.3, in which an all-new

central quasi-improvisation travelled from Stephen Foster to the Drifters (twice) and to Mungo Jerry(!) before finally returning to Dyens. But

there's also a serious side to Chapdelaine, the excerpts from his own Homage to the American Indian, all of which were performed seated,

revealing a capacity to create the most delicate and imaginative pictures in sound."

Paul Fowles, Classical Guitar Magazine (August 2003)

Chapdelaine is a professor of guitar down at the University of New Mexico. He used to be a conservative classical player who recorded the "popular classics" of

the repertory. Having arrived at a comfortable place of success,  in the last few years he has moved suddenly out into the left field of the "cross-over" arena.

                   So there he was at Daniel's house, barefoot and wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt, standing with a Yamaha steel-string on a shoulder strap, fiddling with

his Yamaha AG-StompBox with his toes, insulting the audience ("a bunch of geezers") telling jokes about classical musicians, and generally displaying an

irreverent attitude the subtext of which was, "I have tenure so I can play the kazoo in pink pajamas if I want to, Yah-hoo-oo!"

  Michael didn't bother wasting his time establishing his credentials by playing "Leyenda" and "Recuerdos" first (I have heard Muriel Anderson and Sharon

Isbin both do exactly that, but Michael is beyond giving the proverbial flying fig). He gave us a solid 40 or 50 minutes of arrangements of classic pop tunes, with 2

or 3 originals in the mix. The first three tunes were remarkable primarily for showcasing the "rock-n-roll Golpe", a trick of thumping relentlessly on the bass

strings with the side of the thumb on the back-beat ( 1 - foomp - 3 - foomp etc.) It's very effective for creating the illusion of a rhythm section and solves that

"empty sounding" problem that solo-guitar pop tune arrangements sometimes have. Also, it's a very comforting sound if you happen to miss sitting in traffic next

to someone with sub-woofers in the trunk of the car. Later he changed the patch on the AG-Stomp and it mellowed out a little bit, or else yours truly just forgot

about it because of the truly awesome guitar playing which was going on over the top of it.

                   About the fourth song in, we were treated to the surf classic "Wipe Out!" (groan) but this is where the audience surrendered and said, "OK, we admit

it, you're great!". It was the classic shtick of "Watch how many things I can do at once!" - the bass, the drums, the complete famous drum solo. We wondered if

this might have been what he won the Winfield contest with, but forgot to inquire. After this there was one more truly cheesy number, the theme from "Secret

Agent Man" - but it was perfect. Michael had completely recreated being a 13-year-old with an electric guitar in the 60's and thereby attracted the envy of every

geezer in the room.

                   At this point our guitarist shifted gears (changing the patch in the AG-Stomp, although the difference was too subtle for me) and explained that he had

arrived at a point in life (but what he meant was a point in the set) when he realized that he would rather play music to impress beautiful women than to wow

teenage boys, and proceeded to play some gorgeous arrangements of love songs. The highlight of these was George Harrison's "Something in the way she

moves".  (On the light gauge steel strings Michael could do all of Harrison's guitar work note for note, with string bends and all, in a way that is impossible on

nylon strings.) We, the audience, surrendered to pure musical beauty for the rest of the set. Sorry the rest of you didn't make it!

-- john pearce

"As carelessly as the word "virtuoso" gets tossed around these days, it still only characterizes a minuscule percentage of artists. New Mexico-based

guitarist Michael Chapdelaine is one of the chosen few. . And Michael Chapdelaine is a consummate live performer whose passion bleeds from

his fingertips." Weekly Alibi

 

 

"The music of Michael Chapdelaine was something completely different at the International Guitar Workshop, but he was also one of the world's

finest guitarists performing some of the world's finest music." The Deland Beacon

 

 

"I saw Michael at the 1996 Guitar Foundation of America Competition. I was impressed by his beautiful tone, easy manner on stage and

thoroughlypolished performance. Most of all I enjoyed the balanced mixture offlawlessly interpreted classical works and lighter, popular

modern works byhimself and other guitarist-composers. This is an unexpected treat and an opportunity to hear one of the world's most

original guitarists. " ACGS Ovations, Newsletter of the Austin Classical Guitar Society

 

 

"Unexpected pleasures are often the best. Although Chapdelaine was previously unknown to me, I have seldom heard a more superb album.

Other young guitarists have excellent technique, but few have such style and musicality, and Chapdelaine's tone is the nearest to Segovia's that I

can recall. It's rash, of course, to go overboard on the basis of a single album, but if I were marooned on a desert island with a limited selection

of recordings, this one would be among my choices." Acoustic Guitar Magazine

 

 

"I was expecting something hokey or maudlin, but instead was impressed by an impressionistic, gently modal work, melancholy, but

never depressing, which used parallel fourths, bent notes, glissandi, and other devices to evoke rather than imitate Native American

music......an ambitious and original work (Red Sand, Homage to the American Indian); Chapdelaine is as formidable a composer as he

is a guitarist. " Soundboard

 

 

"superb" Denver Post

 

"Chapdelaine's absolutely tasteful and stylish phrasing and the sensitivity of his playing, even at the beginning, were striking...And

when he performs etudes and preludes by Villa-Lobos, with breathtaking technique, the Segovia student is hardly to be beat."

Elmshorner Nachrichten (Germany)

 

 

"Chapdelaine performed an understated but deeply engaging program...demanded of Chapdelaine contrapuntal independance

,rhythmic fluidity, sustained energy and concentration, and received same..What was ultimately so satisfying about Chapdelaine's

performance was the ability to work with in the confines of an instrument so severely limited dynamically and expressively, and

even transform those limitations into virtues." Kansas City Star

 

 

"Chapdelaine is much admired for his sensitive, even soulful performances." Guitar Review Magazine

 

 

"His playing was orderly, neatly structured and full of energy. He opened up the lines to let things bloom and breath." Charlotte

Observer

 

 

"Bravo...It is easy to get carried away with a limpid and debonair mood in Chapdelaine's playing...Chapdelaine played with a graceful

vitality, presenting the music as a luminous arch and delivering it with stunning control of dynamics...Dare we ask for much more?"

Baton Rouge Morning Advocate

 

 

"Michael Chapdelaine played with great sensitivity, producing a controlled delicate sound." Guitarra Magazine

 

 

"An exciting performer, Michael plays an incredible program of classical compositions."

Guitar Player Magazine

 

 

"Michael Chapdelaine played these pieces brilliantly, with great colour, insight and conviction. Here one could hear new, interesting

pieces and an outstanding performance." Dagbladid-Visir (Iceland)

 

 

"Both the old and young were equally mesmerized by the exquisite sounds Chapdelaine elicited with amazing skill. Chapdelaine's

hands ran up and down the instrument with a grace and fluidity that left the listeners awed." News Tribune

 

 

"Everything about (his performance) spoke of discipline, unforced technique and the ability to perceive and shape the design of

complex pieces." Kansas City Star

 

 

" Chapdelaine played a monstrously difficult program...pulled out all the aggressive and dramatics possible...the performance, in

spite of the work's complexity, was beautiful." Soundboard

 

 

"Mr. Chapdelaine Warms Audience (headline)...The variety and complexity of Chapdelaine's program enabled him to display his

natural intuition for style as well as his admirable technical skill." Jefferson Times

 

 

"What we heard was a sturdy reading with propulsive vigor." Los Alamos Monitor