One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"
Wilson Hur, Fine Spanish Classical Guitarist
Thom and I recently spent a luxurious evening dining at the Shadow Mountain Restaurant. New manager, Cassie Livingston has been expanding their offerings from the kitchen and the stage. While relishing the special of the day, a succulent, perfectly prepared prime rib, we listened to the captivating, evocative classical guitar of Wilson J. Hur.
Wilson’s solo guitar performance evoked, at times, bittersweet emotions reminiscent of Itzhak Perlman’s violin in “Fiddler on the Roof”, at others, the gaiety of a holiday festival but, always, life affirming joy. He is a master musician: tones clear, tempos precise. We were enthralled to hear such beautiful music played so exquisitely.
A few days later, I spoke with Wilson at his bright and charming home in Benson. A small, gentle stray calico kitten greeted me at the stoop and he explained, “We found him wandering and crying for help in a mobile home park. He was so skinny and his back legs were so deformed he could hardly walk. We nursed the little guy to health but we have enough cats of our own and can’t afford to allow him to join the family permanently”. Instead, they feed and water him outside. During my visit, the indoor cats never emerged from their hiding places but a three-month old, chow-mix fur-ball just could not get enough tummy scratching and hugging from his new friend.
The walls are graced with wonderful watercolors and oils painted by Wilson’s highly talented girlfriend, Jessie, about whom I intend to write in the near future.
Wilson grew up in Oregon where his traditional Korean parents sent him, at the age of six, to study piano via the famous Suzuki Method, pioneered by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki. (http://www.suzukimusicacademy.com/)
He studied piano for a few years then in the sixth grade, he turned to the brass instruments and joined the school band. First, he played the trumpet, then the tuba. However, he was too small for the massive tuba so he switched finally to the French horn.
During all those years, he maintained a fascination with the guitar and begged his parents relentlessly to allow him to take up its study. Unfortunately, he found it impossible to convince his parents the guitar is a valid classical instrument.
However, Wilson was apparently fated to a marvelous future playing the guitar. He told me how finally, at the age of eighteen, he finally obtained his first guitar and started the years of study that brought him to his present expertise with the instrument.
“One weekend, I was out in the countryside with my uncle and cousins, camping and fishing. One of my uncles went wandering around in the trees and right on the ground, as if it had just been tossed away, was an abandoned guitar. He brought it back to show us and I took it home. It was in good shape and we never figured out whose it was or why they would toss it away. It was a regular six-string guitar. Someone had put electric guitar strings on it, but other than that, it was a fine guitar. When I brought it home, my parents still didn’t like the idea of my taking guitar lessons so I started teaching myself. I would come home and go up to my room and start practicing and within half an hour my parents would be saying, ‘Okay, that’s enough practice.’ They really didn’t like hearing that guitar. They couldn’t see it as a classical instrument.”
Eventually, Wilson wound up at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the University of Arizona’s prestigious Guitar Studies Program. He studied under world famous instructors: David Tanenbaum, Tom Patterson, David Russell, Pedro Quadra, Dusan Bogdanovic, Marc Teicholz and Paul O’dette. Wilson’s talent has been honored with the receipt of the William Wolf Guitar Scholarship and he was awarded in the Schaeffer Endowment Competition.
For the past four years, Wilson has shared his passion and his talent with southeastern Arizona. He just finished a three-year, thrice-weekly engagement at the Casino del Sol. His full schedule includes over 200 performances a year.
Wilson performs at private parties, corporate functions, private concerts, weddings, and festivals. The Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tohono Chul Park, San Xavier Mission, Starr Pass Resort, Fiesta de la Primavera, and L’auberge in Sedona are just some of the organizations that have engaged Wilson to entertain their patrons. He performs mainly as a soloist. However, he has performed in a guitar trio, in a duo with a violin or singer, and as a soloist with a Chamber Orchestra. Wilson offers music for a wide range of musical tastes. He can provide background ambiance, a full wedding ceremony, or even a full-scale Concert with varying programs.
As his website (http://www.wilsonjhur.com/) states, Wilson is considered one of the “most talented young soloists in the region…His repertoire of works range from; Classical Masterpieces, such as the great lute pieces of Bach; to the Mediterranean sounds of Spanish guitar pieces of Isaac Albeniz and Francisco Tarrega, also in his library of music includes pieces from the South American brilliance of Antonio Lauro, Laurindo Almeida and Augustine Barrios.”
About classical guitar music for weddings, Wilson points to Andres Segovia who, “once said that the Guitar was the most beautiful of all instruments. Indeed, the luscious tones and inescapable romanticism bear witness to that. The Classical Guitar is refined, yet it remains humble and giving. It is an intimate instrument, reaching to the heart of the people.”
From Wilson’s website: “I provide a Customized Ceremony, from beginning to end; from various Spanish landscapes; to the most sacred Bach or Pacabel; sensual Debussy or Satie; Traditional, non-traditional or a collage of styles. Choose from a wide range of pieces. A personal consultation is included to make every effort toward the perfect ceremony.”
“... the perfect guitarist for private and wide scale parties. He’s able to adapt to formal and casual settings, both indoor and outdoor. From wedding events to a senator’s private reception, Wilson’s music has made our family gatherings truly unforgettable.”’ The Bell and Connel Families
Please join me in letting Cassie know that we would all love to have Wilson return to Shadow Mountain Restaurant (826-3417), preferably as one of our regularly scheduled entertainers.