Ear Supply: Guitar at Twilight

Late-summer refreshment at St. James.

Each time I visit St. James Cathedral's neo-medieval chapel to hear Seattle guitarist Mark Wilson, I wonder why more musicians don't perform there. Cool, airy, and marbly, its serene aura is especially soothing in late summer, and Wilson's annual August recitals, strategically held since 2008 during classical music's deadest weeks, are like a palate-cleanser before the fall arts onslaught. Plus, the intimate space is ideal for acoustic guitar, which, unlike its electric cousin, speaks in a hush. Wilson says the chapel is "probably the kindest room to the classical guitar in the region, or even one of the best on the West Coast. As I've gotten to play, the more I realize that my instrument is actually the room. I feel like it makes me play so much better . . . I don't have to overdrive the guitar." Wilson's repertory samples liberally from various cultures (on his Friday recital, he'll play music from Germany, Paraguay, and Turkey) and centuries; his particular interests are transcribing renaissance lute music and introducing new works (for instance, he asked for and played, beautifully, a piece by me in 1999). If you haven't heard Wilson play here—and most of you haven't, since the chapel only holds maybe 100 people—don't miss him this year. 

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