Photo Credit: Kim Jun Su
Dutch guitarist extraordinaire, Enno Voorhorst, took some time out from his busy schedule to give Six String Journal readers insight into his personal and musical life. From eating bananas before a performance, reading García Márquez, to his upcoming project of recording late Roland Dyens’s Concerto Metis, hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
When did you start playing and why? Or, what drew you to the guitar initially?
I was thirteen when I got my first guitar and was immediately sold. I had played the violin for 6 years already, so the development went very quickly because of this advantage and that was of course very stimulating.
What repertoire do you enjoy playing the most?
My repertoire preference is music with nice melody lines. I see the guitar more as a melodic instrument than as a chordal instrument. A piano or harp can’t influence the sound after playing, nor do they have much the sound variety that a guitar has! This is the same like all other melodic instruments.
What guitar or guitars do you perform on? Strings?
I play a Simplicio model moderno copy from 1930. It is made by Federico Sheppard and it has a double soundhole on both sides of the fingerboard. I like the sound possibilities and the clear full bass. For that I use Savarez Corum hard tension.
Which guitarists/musicians have had the most influence on you?
Of course my first teacher influenced me the most, Hein Sanderink. He came from the school of Ida Presti and was very concerned with a good sound but he is also a fantastic and clever musician. After that, I studied with Huber Kappel and had masterclasses with David Russell who both influenced me a lot. Kappel because of his expression and Russell because of his mastery and open mindset.
What recording/s are you most proud of?
Every next recording I think is the better. My last recording is the most mature; Bach, Pärt, Desprez. I think here I played the most freely and expressively with a program that suits me well.
Are there any recordings that you consider have the finest recorded sound for guitar?
This is hard to say. As a musician I listen to the music first and when I like it I also like the recording but I know that I’m probably not objective…
What are some up and coming projects you are excited about?
In September 22-25 2017 there is a Camino Artes festival where I will perform a new duo with Laura Young. David Russell will also be there to celebrate the 500th concert in this series of concerts for the pilgrims walking towards Santiago the Compostela in beautiful old churches. After that I will record a CD of Roland Dyens’s music consisting of many solo pieces and his Concerto Metis with one of the best string orchestras of the Netherlands. I’m really looking forward to this as a tribute to this great person, friend, and unique composer.
Technique and Performance
How much do you practice? And, do you structure your practice in any particular way?
Yes I practise a lot, still 4 hours a day or more. It depends on the concerts I have to play and the programs I have to prepare. I also play in two duos what I like very much for the repertoire; one with oboe and one with the viola. Great combinations!
Are there aspects of guitar that you struggle with or that you find you are still working on?
Technically, many problems have been solved over the years, but relaxation always remains an important issue. Of course relaxation of the whole body, but also of the fingers that have nothing to do. This gives the possibility to prepare the next finger movement. A well prepared finger is half the work!
Do you deliberately memorize music or have a technique that helps assimilate music into memory?
I like to memorize the music because it settles better in my brain that way. A memory is actually an association you make with notes, rhythm, harmony, movement, etc. The more associations you make the better it is, so a good understanding of solfège and harmony is important. Playing a piece from memory should be an automatism!
Have you published any editions or do you plan to publish your own editions in the future?
There have been some publications. At the moment I do not take the effort to have more transcriptions published because of a lack of time. But I’m happy to share them with anybody who asks me by mail. The guitar world is small and I like this feeling of connection with each other.
Do you have a favorite drill you use to warm up?
My warming up consists of some scales, slurs, and arpeggios. Furthermore, playing tremolo pieces relaxes and balances my right hand and helps the left hand find the strings more precisely.
Do you have any pre-concert rituals?
I eat one or two bananas.
Advice to Younger Players
What single most important piece of advice about practicing would you offer to younger players?
Never lose the joy in playing, so play the pieces you love. When you don’t feel like practicing something, first do what you desire to do. The guitar is your friend and not the opponent.
What repertoire do you consider essential for young/conservatory students to assimilate? Why?
The studies by Fernando Sor are definitely very important because of the quality of counterpoint, structure, and refined harmony and melody.
Recordings that every young guitarist should be familiar with?
Listen as much as possible the music you love over and over again. All music, not only guitar! I listened to Glenn Gould playing Bach very often or the duo Presti/Lagoya.
What is the last book that you read? Favorite author/s?
The last book I read was Ida Presti Her Art about the life of Ida Presti. It is written by her daughter Elisabeth. It is very interesting to read how the guitar developed after the second World War. One of my favorite authors is Gabriel García Márquez with his magic realism…
Do you try to stay healthy? Exercise? Follow a particular diet?
I like to go running with my dog in the woods behind my house and that gives me energy. I think that good health is important to play an instrument on a high level, not only physically but also mentally.
For more on Enno Voorhorst visit his page!