Interview with Andrew Rubin, Composer & Guitarist

Today's guest is Andrew Rubin, a young American guitarist and composer. Andrew is going to tell us about his own composition “Guitar Concerto”, which he made his debut as a composer with the San Luis Obispo Chamber Orchestra in October 2015.

 

Q1. Please tell us about yourself.  

I started playing the guitar at 13. Over the years, playing the guitar evolved from a simple pleasure to an all-consuming passion. I left secondary school when I was 16 to devote my time to music, often practicing 8-12 hours a day; this lasted for a couple of years.

I considered myself a rock guitarist for a long time. Eventually, I branched out and started exploring other genres - Pop, Jazz, Electronica, etc. I absorbed every technique and style of music I could get my hands on.

I met my mentor, Jon Anderson, former singer of the progressive rock group Yes, then I was 14. He introduced me to the world of classical music and composition and showed me composers like Sibelius, Stravinsky, and Rodrigo.

It was due to our collaboration on "Guitar Concerto" that I discovered a passion for composing, and now am actively pursuing a career to write scores for films and television.

The most recent short film I scored is entitled "The Magician" (available on YouTube) - winner of the Best Animated Film at the 2016 Phoenix ComiCon Film Festival.

 

Q2. Tell us about your work "Guitar Concerto". What inspired you to compose this concerto?

I really have to thank Jon for the inspiration for "Guitar Concerto."
When I was sixteen, I emailed Jon a video of me performing "Classical Gas," by Mason Williams. He thought it was wonderful that I was now playing classical music and invited me over. He told me, "if you can play in that style, why not start writing in it?" We sat in his home studio and he showed me Rodrigo's "Concierto De Aranjuez." Then he turned to me and said "now you've got to write your guitar concerto!"

 

Q3. What was the composition process like? As a crossover musician, did you have to learn classical guitar and orchestration technique to compose this concerto?

The writing process began with Jon and I sketching out the whole piece on two guitars. One day, while Jon was on tour, I was listening to the piece and thought "I wonder what would happen if I tried orchestrating it myself?" so with my keyboard I started layering other instruments like harp, then strings, then woodwinds. It was a very gradual, intuitive process. I showed Jon the next time I saw him and he couldn't believe it. He said I had a natural gift for orchestration and arranging, and recommended me to a great teacher and orchestrator, Stefan Podell, who helped refine the piece.

As far as guitar technique, I haven't formally studied classical guitar. For Guitar Concerto, I infused the knowledge I already had of fingerpicking, scales, chords, and so on to create the piece.

 

Q4. Tell us about your experience of playing with the San Luis Chamber Orchestra.

The writing process began with Jon and I sketching out the whole piece on two guitars. One day, while Jon was on tour, I was listening to the piece and thought "I wonder what would happen if I tried orchestrating it myself?" so with my keyboard I started layering other instruments like harp, then strings, then woodwinds. It was a very gradual, intuitive process. I showed Jon the next time I saw him and he couldn't believe it. He said I had a natural gift for orchestration and arranging, and recommended me to a great teacher and orchestrator, Stefan Podell, who helped refine the piece.

As far as guitar technique, I haven't formally studied classical guitar. For Guitar Concerto, I infused the knowledge I already had of fingerpicking, scales, chords, and so on to create the piece.

 

Q5. Please tell us about your artistic vision as a composer and guitarist.

Music is a gift that I am incredibly thankful beyond words to have discovered, and have the willingness to share with others in this lifetime. My artistic vision is to express passion and change. I love many different aspects of music - composition, film scoring, songwriting, leading bands, etc. and I want to do it all.

I look up to artists like David Bowie, Miles Davis, and Frank Zappa because they were never artistically complacent and always were evolving, from one album to the next. More importantly, they had the courage to do whatever they wanted to and went wherever their muses led them. I aspire to be that same way in my career.

 

Q6. Tell us about your next project.

I'm currently working on two upcoming projects.
The first project is my debut EP as a solo artist; very pop and rock-oriented songwriting. The first single of the EP, "Dark Days," was just released on Youtube.
I'm also composing my third classical work, which I envision to be a ballet or dance piece. Updates on upcoming projects will be posted to my website andrewrubin.net and my Facebook page @andrewrubinmusic.

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