My story with Edson began in 1978. I was beginning to study classical guitar, and was at that early stage where everything is difficult. I really thought about quitting. My mother, who was a pianist, continued to push me, but I was a little discouraged. I guess it was fate that on that particular Sunday it was raining, so there was no way I could go to the beach (a crucial thing when you live in a beach city like Rio de Janeiro). I had to find something to do at home, which was not so trivial in this pre-internet era. I ended up turning on the TV, hoping to get some football game, but what came on was a broadcast of a national guitar competition sponsored by Globo TV, the most prestigious TV network in the country. My mother and I started watching with interest, something about the candidates, trying to learn from what we were seeing. Suddenly came a candidate that immediately caught my attention. He attacked Sor’s op 9 with a clean sound and beautiful playing as I had never heard until then. His program followed with Villa-Lobos’ Study #7, played efortlessly, like a walk in the park. I was mesmerized. My mother immediately said: “The others don’t stand a chance, this guy will be the winner. He is heads and shoulders above the rest.” And it did happen in the way my mother predicted.
The guy won the first prize so categorically that for many months nobody talked about anything else in guitar circles all over the country. It inspired me, gave me a new boost and made me want to play that way too. The impact that that guy had at that stage in my formative years was very important, and perhaps without that boost my story with the guitar would have been different. But who was this guy? Yes, he, Edson Lopes. Edson was born in São Paulo in 1957 and graduated from the Conservatoire of Music and Drama in Tatuí, state of São Paulo, in 1978, the same year he won the TV competition as well as another national guitar competition sponsored by the Brazilian National Bank. By the way, he’s been the first prize winner at every competition he’s entered. In 1979 he went to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, to study with José Tomás, then assistant to the myth Andrés Segovia. During the festival he was awarded the “outstanding student” prize, which consisted of a scholarship to return next year. The legendary Argentine guitarist Maria Luísa Anido described Edson at the occasion as “an extraordinary guitarist, who had astonished her with his technical aplomb, instrumental command, tonal delicacy and delicious interpretation”.
Much to everyone’s surprise, this guitarist who amazed everyone suddenly in the late 1970s disappeared, and I lost contact with his career. Edson came back to live in Tatuí, now as a beloved teacher at the same conservatoire where he had studied, where he’s also directed the Guitar Ensemble. In 2003 he got his Licentiate degree at the Trinity College of Music in London. Later he became a member of the respected Brazilian Guitar Quartet, with whom he’s played at many tours of the USA, Mexico, Hong Kong and Europe. More recently he has established the Vivace Brazil Quartet (flute, two guitars and percussion) which has also received press praise in their American tours. Then recently a friend sent me a link to Edson’s new videos. To my joy, it was all there: the same wonderful sound and musicality, the technical precision, joy of playing, colours, etc. A guitarist like I have seen but very few times in my life, and who gives me great joy to hear. These new videos from Edson are a breath of fresh air. I wish this CD can start a new phase in his concert career, in which more people will get to know him and learn that, besides the Abreus, the Assads, Turibio Santos and many others Brazil has another great guitarist that is second to none.
Adelante, Maestro Edson Lopes. It is always a joy to hear you play. Thank you for your beautiful music.
By Marcelo Kayath