CRAIG OGDEN’S guitar weekends at the Bridgewater Hall have become a highlight of the programme there, and this year’s looks like no exception.
The main difference in the programme is that the Saturday night concert (January 21) won’t be at the Bridgewater Hall at all – the BBC Philharmonic have the place for their concert with Sir Andrew Davis and pianist Javier Perianes, so Craig, along with his star guest, jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth, will be at the Cosmo Rodewald Hall in the University of Manchester’s Martin Harris Centre, at 8pm.
And, as has been known for some time now, solo guitarist Miloš Karadaglić will not be appearing, for health reasons. Craig has been fulfilling a number of the engagements Miloš had lined up in recent months, ands in the festival here he’s going to play almost exactly what Miloš had planned for his ‘Bach to the Beatles’ programme at the Bridgewater Hall on Friday January 20, with the Royal Northern Sinfonia.
“I took on five of the 15 dates Miloš had planned for his tour, and the first one gave me just five days to learn nine new pieces,” he says, looking back. “I just had to drop everything, and ignore the children and the wife. I hadn’t practised that much since I was at college – though I do enjoy pressure.
“The only replacement items will be that I’ll play an arrangement of Michelle instead of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and there’ll be one different Spanish piece.”
Craig’s a very busy man anyway, these days. Teaching students at the Royal Northern College of Music is one of his big commitments, and he now has more than two dozen of them: he’s also visited China, Australia, Spain and Portugal as a performer and says, “It’s all been good.”
He’s looking forward to the concert with Jacqui Dankworth, too: “We’ve been making a recording together, with songs she’s not recorded before. She’s really amazing – just like her mum, who I’ve also worked with (Jacqui is the daughter of Cleo Laine and John Dankworth).”
As usual, the Manchester guitar festival will finish with Craig’s Big Guitar Jamboree, on Sunday January 22, when a massed guitar orchestra will gather to practise and then perform a piece called An Amazonian Journey together in the afternoon. There are parts for everyone from Grade 1 upwards, and the concert features the Aquarelle Guitar Quartet as guests.