No. 1 times 2: URI guitarist has second Billboard hit in 10 weeks – The Providence Journal

Posted By on September 27, 2021

A veteran of numerous albums, University of Rhode Island classical guitarist Adam Levin had never seen one of his recordings reach the Billboard charts. Now, in the span of 10 weeks, hes done it twice landing the top spot with two different albums.

In June, Music From the Promised Land, his debut album with the mandolin and guitar chamber group Duo Mantar, reached No. 1 on Billboards Traditional Classical Albums rankings. This time its his solo work, 21st Century Spanish Guitar, Vol. 4, which topped the chart the week of Sept. 4 sharing space on a list with such marqueenames as composer John Williams, violinist Hilary Hahn, cellist Yo-Yo Maand pianist Natalie Zhu.

Im definitely in good company," said Levin, a teacher of classical guitar at URI. "Its humbling to know that Im surrounded by such powerhouse superstars, many of whom have influenced a generation or more of younger musicians.

21st Century Spanish Guitar, Vol.4, released Aug. 20 by Frameworks Records, is the culmination of 15 years of research, with Levin courting composers to write for the guitar, commissioning, and recording a repertoire that spans four generations of new Spanish composers. The four volumes include more than 30 commissioned works, almost all of which have never been previously recorded.

It really answers the critical question: What comes next in the long line of Spanish composition? said Levin. We have a wellspring of original compositions and transcriptions by Joaqun Rodrigo, Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albniz, Enrique Granados, Joaqun Turina, among others pillars of Spanish composition who established the 20th-century classical Spanishsound.

"I grew up studying this music, performing it as a young kid, and then in my mid-20s, I asked myself what does the future hold for Spanish classical music.

Levin, a protg of virtuoso Eliot Fisk at the New England Conservatory, started looking for an answer as a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain, in 2008, proposing to study and perform Spanish music written from the 20th and 21st centuries. He quickly realized that he had landed upon a new Spanish renaissance in composition, he said. The last four generations of Spanish composers were creating music as unique and vital as their storied ancestors.

The music had an unmistakable Spanish DNA, but composers were no longer only searching for the quintessential Spanish sound, but cross-pollinating with music of other cultures, genresand centuries of themes, forms and compositional styles, he said.

Other than Gabriel Estarellas Levins Fulbright mentor and professor of guitar at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Msica de Madrid no one was championing this music. So, Levin took on the mission himself.

Since 2008, he has commissioned nearly 40 new chamber and solo pieces by four generations of Spanish composers, all of which have appeared in the 21st Century Spanish Guitar series or on other recordings.

The final volume in the series a double CD set recorded in a converted masonic temple in Roslindale, Massachusetts, with engineer John Weston, and in Badajoz, Spain, with engineer Luis del Toro includes pieces from master composer Leonardo Balada, who was born in 1933; his disciple Jorge Muiz, born more than 40 years later;and composers in the years between. The 11 tracks range in style from the avant-gardein Jos Luis Turinas Arboretum, to the American bluegrass-flavor of Muizs three-part Portraits from the Heartland, to Sephardic tradition in Brotons Sonata Sefardita.

Among the highlights is the first recording of Cuban-Spanish composer Eduardo Morales-CasosConcierto de La Herradura, in which Levin is backed by the Orchestra of Extremadura under the baton of lvaro Albiach.

Along with being a touring performer,music advocate andteacher at URI and the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Levinis co-founder of the Kithara Project (, whose mission is to improve the lives of children and youth through classical guitar.

Through his now 12 albums, his goal has been to expand in the classical repertoire for future guitarists.

This project is all in vain if I cant make the connection to the next generation of guitarists," he said. "For my students, I aim to bridge the sounds and traditions of old-world Spanish music with the Spanish compositional trends of today.

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No. 1 times 2: URI guitarist has second Billboard hit in 10 weeks - The Providence Journal

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