Eliot Fisk splits his time as a performer, recording artist, and educator between Europe and North America, but the largely self-taught musician––who did study with guitar master Andres Segovia––says that it’s his native land, the United States, that gives him the strongest sense of identity.
“In so many ways, I think of myself as a very American artist,” he says. “I mean: Where did I come from? There’s never been a musician in the history of my family on either side, ever. How and why did I ever develop this ridiculous idea to play this instrument?”
Fisk says that music is an art form that can bridge numerous divides.
“I think music has a great untapped potential,” he notes, “as a way of bringing people together across the political divide––it should be across the cultural divide, it should be across the social class divide, it should be across the ethnic divide. And we haven’t quite figured out a way to do those as best as we could. The more arts exposure we give to young people––of quality arts exposure we give to young people––the better everybody does. The other thing about art––as opposed to athletics, which gets a lot more publicity…. Athletics is based on win-lose. That’s the real scenario.
"There are a lot of myths about, ‘Oh, it’s how you play the game’ and all this kind of stuff. But, really, athletics doesn’t, I don’t think, teach you collaborative win-win situation kind of ways of interacting with people nearly the way that music does. Because when you get on stage with someone else, let’s say, there’s really… everybody has to win. That’s the only way you can have a good experience.”
Fisk joins with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra for an evening of Italian-themed music that will include performances of concertos by Vivaldi and Rodrigo.
“Both of those guitar concertos have incredible slow movements. Vivaldi’s little miniature typical Vivaldi concerto but, actually, one of his most beautiful concertos. Of all the 400-500 concertos he wrote, it’s one of the most beautiful. The outer movements are charming, light, delightful. So simple but so beautiful slow movement that Vivaldi wrote. And you can really just feel all the magic of Venezia, Venice.
“The Rodrigo, of course, is the most famous––not just the most famous guitar concerto, which it is, but it’s the most famous concerto for any instrument in the entire 20th Century. I mean, it’s the hit par excellence. And of course it’s the slow movement that’s so famous, with its very Spanish, Phrygian sound. It’s a tune that everybody knows. This is the tune that catapulted Rodrigo into international fame and fortune.”