Big venues are not always the best venues. Some of the most rewarding shows I’ve played have been for groups of no more than 20 people. Smaller settings provide a more intimate experience for audiences and musicians, and can often offer richer acoustics than large stages. House shows, parlor concerts, and home settings allow performers to connect on a deeper level with their listeners.
Over the years I’ve played many living room concerts for small groups throughout Europe and the United States. I feel like it’s the most direct, conversational way to share music with your audience. It’s an organic experience—the lack of amplification and grandiose stage production exposes the true sound of the instruments. Smaller groups mean a more personal, meaningful connection to the artist and to each other. The informality of this type of setting allows for more exchange of feelings and interactions.
Chopin was known for playing intimate parlor shows. It was one of the ways his patrons supported his work. Composers, artists, creative people who are dedicated and committed to beauty and cultural awareness have been supported by the court, the church, wealthy patrons, record labels, etc. Few get rich since that’s far from the goal of most artists who are driven simply by the passion to create. If they end up being celebrated or discovered so to speak, they can leave behind deep and meaningful treasures for years to come. Ironically, most creative people are working in a place of innocence and are just letting some pieces of meaning flow from themselves in an attempt to understand more of what our human existence is all about. I assume that Van Gogh was just tapping into and mirroring the pain and beauty that was reflected from his inner life. So in an attempt to have more light and understanding in life we gather and take in what artists have collected in stillness and solitude. This is the beauty of the home concert— it links audience and artist in a personal, direct way. They are always memorable experiences; since 1979 and can say that I remember most of the home concerts I’ve played and many of the people who were there.
I have played some wonderful courtyard shows as well. Every year I perform in the Caribbean and some of my fondest performance memories are playing for a handful of people on a warm night. The Spanish guitar sings especially well into the sultry, tropical evening air. At times I feel like it’s 1940, when I’m playing some Brazilian song against the backdrop of Roman archways, a trickling fountain, people wearing white, sipping wine, and savoring the lingering passages of my guitar. I’ve even had some amazing encounters with local wildlife at some of these shows—check out my animal stories.
For me, the climate is right in this season for home concerts. The music business is changing drastically, and artists have to take control to create their own way now more than ever. There is a trend toward the ‘wow factor’ for the short attention span, so we hear very familiar music or remakes of popular tunes in the mainstream—any easy sell. This mindset has been cultivated in the industry and media for the most part, making me want to stay true to my vision and personal journey with my art. I love playing original music, new compositions, constructing songs that build to draw you in, and telling musical stories that are not designed to impress but to edify. I do mix in entertaining, familiar songs for the sake of balance, but I play them in my own way. For example, my album Beatles Masquerade takes 10 Beatles classics and treats them with improvisation and impressionism.
I’m excited to offer home concerts to people from all walks of life. These small audiences have been across the board socially, from a group of bohemian artists in an urban loft to the very wealthy in an old world mansion. That’s the beauty of these intimate performances for me—I love interacting with different groups and bringing people together from many cultural and social backgrounds through music to help see our similarities and dissolve our differences.
My approach to music is very unique. Over the past 20 years I have cultivated my own sound that is based on the traditional Spanish guitar, Segovia-influenced playing, and a range of styles (some similar-sounding artists include Carlos Montoya, Andres Segovia, Leonard Cohen, Baden Powell, Bella Fleck, Jake Shimabukuro, and Gustavo Santaolalla). My musical presentation is more casual, improvised and in the moment—a conversational tone. There is a relaxed, sensual essence to my songs. I feel like my music can be paralleled to impressionism, or even minimalism—it’s at times stream of consciousness playing. I always say, ‘If I can get my audience to forget where they are and be transported to some far off place within the first five minuets of my show, I’m doing my job’. I believe in being free to play based on my current environment as opposed to choreographed sets, which is why home shows are a great outlet for this musical dialogue.
In my current home or parlor shows I am presenting String Stories, a performance that includes hand-made guitars, ukuleles, the nylon string banjo, the harp guitar, and the charango. The music is a blend of classical, flamenco, Brazilian, original, pop songs. I also mix in some musical poetry and vocals. I tell stories from my journeys, my time with Andres Segovia in Spain, the instruments I play, the guitar’s history and legends, and some humorous anecdotes.
An arena or large theatre really cannot capture the same essence of a parlor concert or living room show. Contact me to book a home concert and feel the power of this experience!
“Ten years ago I invited to Mr. Feriante to perform for at my friend’s villa in the Caribbean. He was very well received there and has been invited back every year to play Salon concerts at amazing homes and public concerts as well. It’s not just Andre’s wonderful guitar, but its his relaxed, easy going way with people, Feriante also speaks several languages and has great stories from his world concert travels.” – Stan Gordon, Seattle business owner
Featured photo found here.