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Guitarist Atsumasa Nakabayashi to Perform at NYC's Weill Recital Hall, 11/26

Guitarist Atsumasa Nakabayashi to Perform at NYC's Weill Recital Hall, 11/26

Born in pre-war Japan, Atsumasa Nakabayashi's life-long love affair with the guitar started at age 13 when he heard guitar music on the radio. Fascinated, he learned how to play, using a steel-string guitar borrowed from his elder brother. During wartime, when he went to bomb shelters during air raid alerts holding his guitar, he was greeted with "What are you doing bringing that enemy instrument in here?" He persisted, however, and in 1949 was accepted as a student by Yasumasa Obara and then by Fumio Hayasaka.

Hayasaka was an avant-garde musician and guitarist, who provided music for the movie Seven Samurai and other films. Nakabayashi provided the music for eight films made in Kyoto during 1955-57, and more after that, as well as more than 40 broadcast commercials.

He lived in Kyoto until 1957, and exchanged music lessons for tutoring in Spanish by college students. He then decided to go to Spain to study. This was a great challenge for Japanese at the time owing to government restrictions and the amount of funds that could be taken out of Japan. Nakabayashi thought that the only way to get clearance to go was to win a prize in a major Japanese guitar concours.

He entered what is now known as the Tokyo International Guitar Competition, and made second place; the following year he was No. 1. Soon thereafter, by chance, in Madrid Nakabayashi was heard by an executive of the national copyright organization, who proposed that he give a joint concert with another Japanese man then studying there. He was able to give his first public performance in Spain in 1962. In Spain he studied guitar with Narciso Yepes and composition under Federico Moreno Tórroba.

Since then he has performed in Paris, New York's Carnegie Hall as the first Japanese guitarist to play there, (this concert commemorates his first performance in the noble hall), and in concerts and National Radio recitals in Bern and Montreux. As an invited guest at the Festival Internacional de Musica y Danza de Granada, he performed his own composition for ballet, Granada 1492, in the Alhambra Palace with the Spanish National Symphony Orchestra and later performed it in Russia with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. He gave a guest performance at the Music Festival commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Santa Prisca Cathedral in Taxco, at the National Museum's Diego Rivera Hall, both in Mexico, and in Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Tokyo Opera City Hall, and Latin America. Over the past 30 years he gave more than 100 recitals in Spain. His testimonials include comments by Andrés Segovia and Joaquin Rodrigo.

During the past 32 years Nakabayashi has driven more than 10,000 kilometers and performed for more than 200,000 persons in Japan giving "Serenade Concerts" in relatively isolated communities shunned by top performers. By these concerts, Nakabayashi has raised more than 15 million yen for the Japanese Red Cross, and has been given a citation of appreciation for this. Nakabayashi provided all of the background music, playing guitar, for a Japanese CD release of Gregory Peck's reading of The Old Man and the Sea.

All tickets: $40; available from Carnegie Charge, telephone: 212-247-7800; the box office; online at www.carnegiehall.org. The concert is set for Weill Recital Hall; 154 West 57th Street, November 26, at 8:00 PM.

The American Red Cross name and emblem are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any product, service, company, opinion or political position. The American Red Cross logo is a registered trademark owned by the American Red Cross. For more information, visit www.redcross.org.

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