Brad Richter

The classical guitarist reimagines nature's sounds for guitar
According to The Boston Globe, Brad Richter's music has "an American hometown feel with a sophisticated European polish."Photo courtesy of Joe P. Smith

Brad Richter hears icicles dripping, wind whipping over the desert or a rattlesnake shaking its tail and wonders how he can imitate the sound on classical guitar.

Richter, who lives in Tucson, Ariz., used to practice frequently outdoors where nature's soundtrack would inspire new and interesting techniques and compositions.

If you go

Who: Brad Richter

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25

Where: First Congregational United Church of Christ, 717 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland

Tickets: $20, $15 for seniors, $5 for students and free for children 12 and younger

Call: 541-261-3811

On one of his recent albums, "American Landscapes" (2011), Richter's music conjures up images of the Marble Canyon, Sonoran Desert and Colorado River.

"The reason I work on coming up with my own techniques on my guitar is so I can better imitate the landscapes and stories," he says.

Richter will perform his imaginative, yet accessible, original music at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 717 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

When he was 12 years old, Richter taught himself to play electric guitar, and he played rock and heavy metal until his late teens.

"The first thing that turned me on to classical guitar was Michael Hedges playing acoustic, finger-style guitar," Richter says.

Other influences were Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin and Spanish and flamenco music.

When he was 19, Richter was awarded a scholarship to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. He studied there and, later, completed his undergraduate studies in performance and composition at the Chicago College of Performing Arts and his graduate studies at the Royal College of Music in London.

He's performed around the world as a soloist, in duos and with various chamber ensembles and, in 2006, co-founded Lead Guitar, an organization that has established guitar programs in U.S. schools with large populations of at-risk youth.

At the concert, Richter will perform several of his vivid soundscapes, as well as three pieces by the eccentric but brilliant South American composer Agustin Barrios, a familiar piece, "Recuerdos de la Alhambra," by Spanish composer Francisco Tarrega, and several of his original "mash-ups."

His favorite of these "mash-ups," a concept that came from his duo with cellist Viktor Uzur, also is his newest piece, "Devil and the Details." The song has three movements dedicated to three musicians "who had a run in with the devil" — violinist Niccolo Paganini, Orpheus and Jimmy Page, "who is always accused of devil worship and witchcraft ... and enjoyed projecting the image of danger and mystery," Richter says.

The piece features "10 or 15 of my favorite guitar riffs by Led Zeppelin," developed in a classical way, he says.

Richter will introduce each of his songs with a story or a bit of humor for context. Admission to the concert is $20, $15 for seniors and $5 for students. Kids 12 and younger get in free. Call 541-261-3811 or see

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