Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, June 22, 2001

Internationally acclaimed guitarist Antigoni Goni

Guitarist pays
tribute to life
of music

Music surrounded classical
guitarist Antigoni Goni

By Burl Burlingame

Antigoni Goni's home in Athens was filled with the sound of music as she grew up, not just during the day, but into the evenings as well. "My parents sang with friends, the popular Greek music of the day," she recalled. "The sound of the guitars filled the house."

The guitar became her "hobby, and then a profession," and Goni, an internationally recognized classical guitarist, will appear in concert at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Orvis Auditorium. (See information on facing page.)

Although Goni has several well-received recordings under her belt and has earned applause at notoriously tough classic-music concert venues around the world, she seems to have a bent for teaching. She is the director of the Guitar Department at Juilliard School of Music in New York.

"When I was a kid, the radio wasn't on all the time, but the record player certainly was," she said via phone. "I grew up with the Beatles, like everyone else! I started playing guitar at 10 and tried to get the best teachers in Greece -- I played my first concert when I was 12 -- and studied there until I was 18 and a half.

"It was my last year of high school, and it was time to get serious!" Goni said with a laugh. "Go into music, or go into architecture, which I dearly loved? I passed the exams for both."

A scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London decided her career path for her. Goni has been plucking strings ever since.

Although particularly attached to a Jose Romanillos-built traditional guitar, she bought a French model for touring last year. "I had to give my Jose a break. It has a fine, sensitive sound, deep and thrilling, very 18th-century, intimate, but the French guitar is modern and powerful, clear and brilliant. It projects well for concerts.

"Both guitars are spruce with Indian rosewood, but constructed differently. To a trained ear, they sound quite different. It is enticing to play both."

One guitar for home; one for the road; she tours constantly. Who has time to pluck her heartstrings?

"It is sometimes tiring, yes, to be all the time on the road. I am not married or have children. Yet. But that is in the works. Oh, yes. I am a human being, and you must experience all of life to express yourself completely on the stage."

And what does she listen to, when she's by herself?

"I enjoy silence a lot."

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