Guitarists to present Goldberg ‘dialogue’

Published 06 May 2008

bach_guitar.jpgUNE Music lecturer Stephen Thorneycroft, together with his fellow guitarist Stephen Tafra, will present this year’s New England Bach Festival Lecture.

The lecture will focus on their arrangement for two guitars of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, a work they – the guitar duo EphenStephen – will perform in concert during the festival.

“Project Goldberg has been maturing over the past two years and has culminated in the production of a CD recording now due for release,” Mr Thorneycroft said. “The CD has been recorded in the rich ambience of the upstairs foyer of the C.B. Newling  Building, with an audience consisting of the portraits of College Principals that hang on the surrounding walls.”

The New England Bach Festival is a biennial event, and this is the fourth so far. It attracts an audience of local people and visitors, and the performers range from the local to the international. This year’s festival runs from the 8th to the 11th of May. For more detailson the EphenStephen CD (pictured here), to be launched in May or early June, go to

“The story of Project Goldberg begins in late 2005,” Mr Thorneycroft explained, “when Ben Thorn, the director of the New England Bach Festival, asked us if we’d like to perform at the next festival. Of course our answer was ‘Yes’, although we had to think about repertoire suitable for transcription. After much listening and research, one piece kept reinforcing itself as the perfect choice – and the more we listened to it the more we heard guitar music.

“After initial trials and discussion about the possible incorporation of many different types of guitars, we settled on keeping the transcription for two of the classical variety and decided that one of us should start transcribing from the beginning and the other from the end, hoping that we’d meet somewhere around variation 15 or 16. We managed it – but what a process!

“In keeping with the famous tale of the ‘Goldbergs’ being played as a cure for insomnia, there have been countless late nights of transcribing, rehearsal and recording that would have driven us (and probably a few others) completely round the bend if it wasn’t for the fact that Bach wrote such indescribably beautiful music.”

The Festival Lecture will be at 3 pm in Room G31, C.B. Newling Building, on Saturday 10 May (entry $10 or $5 concession), and EphenStephen’s performance of the Goldberg Variations for two guitars will be in the Ursuline Chapel at 12.30 pm on Sunday 11 May (entry $20 or $15 concession).