Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin was immediately embraced by the audience’s loud, enthusiastic applause as she walked out onto The Egg’s Swyer Theatre stage.
But within seconds after she sat down and put her instrument across her lap, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop – and if one had, it would have echoed in that anticipatory silence like a steel girder falling at a construction site. With a smile, she launched into a passionate interpretation of a Spanish composition associated with the great classical guitar legend, Segovia.
On Sunday afternoon, two-time Grammy-winning guitarist Isbin shared a double-bill with violinist-composer extraordinaire Mark O’Connor. She performed a repertoire primarily culled from her recent album “Journey to the New World,” while O’Connor concentrated on selections from his latest outing, “Americana Symphony: Variations on Appalachia Waltz.”
They traded solo performances during the program, but Isbin and O’Connor combined their talents at the close of each set for some dazzling, and the interplay between these two masters was breathtaking – notes chasing and dancing with each other in perfect harmony.
One of many interesting standouts was Isbin’s second set opener and tribute to the famed 1960s folk icon, “The Joan Baez Suite.” Its homespun patchwork-quilt of Americana music included Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All The Flowers Gone,” “Fantasia” and “The Lilly of the West.” O’Connor’s themes likewise traversed the American musical landscape, in both a historically and decidedly contemporary fashion.
Regardless of who played what on Sunday, the audience was definitely treated to a musical feast for the ears – and for the soul.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk