Listening to classical guitar on a Sunday afternoon might not be the activity of choice for most Philadelphians, but the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society is hoping to change that. The Society held their Member’s Concert this past Sunday, one of many scheduled in the coming months. Phillyist had a chance to speak with Tom Amoriello, a performer and member of the PCGS about the concert and the organization.
How did you get involved with the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society (PCGS)?
I have been a member since 1992 and volunteered my time by serving on the board of directors, collecting tickets at the door, selling CD’s for the artists, escorting visiting performers to lunch, setting chairs up for our student recitals and festival, and adjudicating competitions—this is small in comparison to what others involved in the organization have done.
While I was a guitar major at Rowan University , the PCGS provided master classes with international artists—please remember this is pre-Youtube, so in order to see many of these artists who you would read about you had to attend their concerts. Most of them with the exception of Christopher Parkening and a few others did not have major label distribution or much media exposure.
You mentioned attending Rowan University, how did you get your start in classic guitar?
My Grandpa Jordan, who passed when I was three, had an old non-functioning Silvertone (electric guitar) that was around so would dance around to act like a superstar. I really loved the music that my parents enjoyed in the late 70’s such as Billy Joel, The Beatles and Elton John—I wanted to be more than just a listener or spectator.
I had my first guitar lessons at The Philadelphia Music Company which was located around Broad & Passyunk Ave in 1984. After three years of Music Store Lessons with five different teachers I decided to teach myself using VHS Instructional Tapes and Guitar Magazines. I was not very musically inclined and had to work for every inch of progress. Eventually I attended Music Tech of Minneapolis which was the equivalent of an Art Institute of Philadelphia but for music. I did all of this before my formal study of music on the college level.
Rumor has it that you were a bit of a metal head—how did you end up playing classical guitar?
I still am a metal head! I even attended [Ronnie James] Dio’s last concert before he passed in Atlantic City back in August 2009. I also love rare pointy electric guitars like the Peavy Razer—it doesn’t get any more metal than that! I would love to tell you that I was weened on Brahms and have such a cultured background in music but that would not be true. I guess I became disinterested in becoming a trend chaser in the early 1990’s—I really liked the physical sensation of challenging music and the classical guitar is right at the top of that list.
Getting back to PCGS, ultimately what is the goal of the organization?
PCGS is a community of members of all ages and accomplishments that support classical guitar activities throughout the Delaware Valley. They present concerts—typically on the 2nd Sunday of the month as well as informal gatherings—providing members of all levels performance opportunities.
What’s next for PCGS this year?
The theme of the 2010–11 season is “A Celebration of Women Guitarists” which will feature local and international performers which are all held at the Settlement Music School located at 416 Queen Street. You can go to www.phillyguitar.org to keep you up to date on our scheduled events or to become a member—you do not need to be a guitarist as many of our members are simply aficionados of guitar music.
Thanks for your time today!
Thank you for the questions and bringing attention to the PCGS.
UPDATE: You can learn what Tom is up to on his new website: TomAmoriello.com