Musical Geography – Review by Kelly Luck

Mr. Chris Stephens is a virtuoso. If you have never actually been in the presence of one before, it may be hard to grasp the full meaning of the word. Simply put, he is astoundingly good at what he does. Over the course of his one-hour show, he takes no less than five string instruments, from one end of Asia to the other, and extemporizes the most beautiful music on each of them.

The instrument’s homes range from Iran to China, from a few strings to over a dozen. Between pieces he explains a little about the history of each instrument, and the music created around it. The music itself is downright mesmerizing; it becomes clear that Mr. Stephens has spent a lifetime honing his skills. As one who dabbles in a desultory sort of way on the guitar, it as fascinating to see someone work at Mr. Stephens’ level.

The only complaint this reviewer can give is quite apart from the performance itself. The venue, at Loretto chapel, is unfortunately not an ideal place for musical performance. The acoustics suck sound into the air, to the point that we often had to strain to hear his voice between the musical parts. Also, the roaring drone of the air conditioning systems and constant buzz of the PA did nothing to enhance the experience. The performance is nevertheless worth catching in any case, but we cannot help but dream how it would sound in a proper venue.

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