Classical guitar is not what it seems when it comes to Matt Palmer.
The American guitar virtuoso performs a mix of classical guitar music from Spain, Brazil and Russia, but it’s not your standard classical fare.
“I come from a background that was not classical music and I think my repertoire actually reflects that quite a bit,” he said. “The songs I play are accessible to a wide audience. I’ve even had people come to my shows that were pure metal heads who walked away and just loved what they heard.
“Part of it is breaking through that label and barrier of classical guitar. It’s something that is actually really cool when you hear it.”
Classical guitar wasn’t one of Palmer’s interests when he first picked up an electric guitar at the age of 10. Into his teens, Palmer played rock and heavy metal music.
“I made an abrupt shift to classical guitar when I was 20,” Palmer said. “I was initially attracted to the challenge of playing something different and classical guitar is definitely a difficult instrument to play.
“When you’re exposed to it for a period of time, you can really fall in love with the expression of the instrument.”
Palmer will perform at the Kun Performance Theatre at Laurier Brantford’s Research and Academic Centre on Sunday at 2 p.m. as part of the Guitar Society of Brantford’s International Concert Series.
The series invites artists from around the globe to perform for the community. Renowned Brazilian guitarist Fabio Zanon will perform as part of the series on Feb. 10 and emerging Chilean performer Jose Antonio Escobar is set to perform on March 3.
“These are the key players on the international stage,” said Patrick Feely, artistic director of the Guitar Society of Brantford.
The International Concert Series is one of five music series the guitar society is running throughout the year.
The Salon Series, in partnership with Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant, presents Russian guitar virtuoso Vladimir Gorback on Nov. 16 at Glenhyrst.
The Community Guitar Orchestra series takes up the society’s mandate to foster local community performance. Students from the area will perform as part of four community ensembles during two concerts, being held Dec. 2 and May 12 at the Kun Performance Theatre.
Three free concerts will be held at the Brantford Public Library as part of the Future Stars of the Guitar Performing Arts Series, which features up-and-coming Canadian guitarists on March 23, April 6 and April 20.
Finally, in partnership with the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association, the Student Concert Series provides performance opportunities for local students, with concerts on Nov. 18, Dec. 8, Jan. 25, April 21, March 3 and May 26 at locations across the city.
“With our series people can get a little of everything,” Feely said. “If they really enjoy the top quality guitarists in the world and want to be entertained, they can do that. If they want to support young national guitarists, you can do that. And those who may not know a lot about classical guitar can come out and see what’s going on.”
For those unfamiliar with classical guitar, Palmer offers his performance as a great introduction.
“Come out to experience and see something new and see the guitar and hear the guitar in a way that you have probably never heard before,” Palmer said.
Tickets to see Matt Palmer cost $15 and can be purchased at the door, by calling 519-802-2630 or by visiting www.theguitarsocietyofbrantford.com.