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Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, August 3, 2000

UH Outreach College
Andrew York prefers small venues.

has classic appeal

By Tim Ryan

In a sublime world, Andrew York would perform his classical guitar in your home each night, every sweet chord sweeping away the day's chaos.

York, who performs Saturday at Orvis Auditorium, is a complete package among guitarists. He composes almost all of his music, and is unique in his ability to cross stylistic boundaries.

"The music I write tends to be difficult to play," York said in a telephone interview from his Southern California home. "I know that from watching other professionals trying to play my music. I don't deliberately compose something to be difficult, but in a way, that satisfies me. I don't like compositions too simplistic, without challenges."

York, 42, started composing music at age 9. Born in Atlanta, he grew up in Virginia in a musical family: his dad and an uncle play the guitar; his mom is a singer.

"There was always music around the house," said York, who also performs with the renowned Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

York received a bachelor's degree in classical guitar performance in 1980 at James Madison University, and his master's degree in studio guitar at the University of Southern California in 1986. He attended on scholarship to study classical guitar though the program was heavy in jazz.

York imagined he would make a career out of being a studio musician "because I was doing a lot of studio work after college.

"Then one day I was at this guy's house who was working a lot with (television theme composer) Mike Post and making good money."

The musician was under "tremendous pressure" to finish a piece for television, York remembered.

"He was working on the music chart for the 'A-Team'; I decided right there that this was not what I wanted to do."

He wanted to concentrate on classical guitar because of the performance possibilities of smaller venues: music easily fills a hall, banter between artist and crowd is possible and the view allows audience members to watch the musician's fingers.

"Talking to an audience is an important part of my show," York said. "I like talking about the music, I like seeing people's faces."

York's solo albums include the 1994 "Denouement," winner of that year's Guitar Player reader's poll for Best Classical Album; and the follow-up "Perfect Sky."

Compositions for a third album have been sitting in York's computer for two years waiting to be edited. The album includes a Bach Cello Suite in C major and his own compositions.

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