South Hill Guitars Concert Report

Categories: Music Concert Report

I attended a concert by South Hill Guitars on Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 in Reynolds Recital Hall at Montana State University. The duo was formed in 2014 and includes guitarist James Reid and John Paul Shields. In the program, it says that they both “share a love for South American music as well as contemporary compositions”. This makes sense considering the concert was a series of guitar duets all by South American composers with the exception of one (John Duarte) who they played in their opening set.

The genre of music South Hill played would fall under the Acoustic Classical & Fingerstyle Guitar. South Hill Guitars would be considered a chamber music concert. I decided to look into the composer Maximo Pujol. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His father was a dentist but was also a retired, professional tango singer.

Maximo found his father’s old guitar and began taking lessons at the age of 8 from a family friend Gaspar Navarro.

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Gaspar was a well-known tango and milonga player around their neighborhood. Maximo played his first concert at age 9 and a few months later he composed his first work for his mother’s birthday. After that, Maximo was inseparable from his guitar. As he grew up and graduated high school he was faced with the same decision as his father, whether or not to continue with music or pursue a more traditional career. At first, he studied both mathematics and guitar. But in the end, he solely chose the guitar. Maximo studied at the Buenos Aires Conservatory of Music.

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He studied hard as well as worked hard to make ends meet. All his studying and hard work paid off when he won two first prizes on his final exam composition “Sonatina”. He could only go up from there. Maximo has used is skills and has performed tango and milongas across Buenos Aires playing in solos, duos, trios, quartets, and more. All his life he has been fully immersed in tango music and he continues to play and study with some of the best tango players and composers in South America. Today some of his works are still being played worldwide including even here in Bozeman, Montana.

During the concert, South Hill Guitars duo played Tres Piezas de Otono which means Three Pieces of Autumn. These were composed by Maximo Pujol who I discussed above. In this they played three separate pieces, Arbolado (Wooded), Sombrio (Somber) and Avenida Centenario (Centennial Avenue). Before they started playing they described a little bit about Maximo and how his works were influenced by tango like I had researched about him above. They explained that you could hear the tango influence mostly in the bass lines and in the progressions of the pieces. Out of all three, they played I distinctly remember liking Sombrio (Somber) the most. I’m not quite sure how to describe it but it started out very slow and soft with one player keeping a steady bass line and the other playing higher notes that sounded like a slow-motion scene in what might be a western film. At one point toward the middle/ end it speeds up quite a bit, and I imagined in my mind that it would have been when all the action began in the film. I could picture it being the beginning of a shootout or brawl of some kind.

I have grown up my whole life around instruments and going to concerts, musicals, and such but that was my first experience going to a classical guitar concert. It was good overall though. I thought it was interesting how they held the guitars in between their legs and rested on their thighs. One thing I wish was different about the concert is that everyone clapped in between each piece instead of just after finishing all of the pieces of one of the composers. There was kind of an awkward silence sometimes, especially if the guitarist had to tune their guitars for the next piece. I’ll need to invite someone to go with me next time… because it got a little dry by myself during the intermission and the downtime between pieces. Overall, I had a pretty enjoyable time at the concert. For only five bucks I would recommend it to a friend next time they come around. I am looking forward to seeing the Bozeman Symphony for my next concert report. It has been quite some time since I have seen one up close and personal.

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South Hill Guitars Concert Report. (2021, Dec 28). Retrieved from

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