My friend (and great friend to ACGS), Donn Levie, wrote a book called Instrumental Influences. It includes a wide variety of essays written by famous classical guitarists and teachers, as well as twenty essays by Donn himself! Instrumental Influences recently won the 2012 IBA in the Performing Arts/Music category, and I asked Donn to tell me a bit about his book. This is what he had to say:

Matthew Hinsley: When did you get the idea for the book?

Donn Levie: I came up with a rough outline—essentially the 20 chapter themes—back in 2007 or so. I sat on it for awhile as I was working on other book projects, but in 2010, I decided it was time to move forward with the project because I saw a void in the classical guitar book space that I felt this project could address. There are so many books available on technique, but there wasn’t anything available in the way of capturing the inner motivations—those “instrumental influences”—that create a shift in one’s direction, desire, and focus to study, perform, and teach classical guitar.

MH: You got a lot of great contributors for you book. How’d do you do it? Do you have a favorite story you can share?

DL: My original plan was for me to write the opening essay for each chapter, followed by one essay from an artist or teacher addressing the chapter theme. But the idea seemed to catch fire with people, and instead of hoping for 20 original essays, the book ended up with 47 original essays from renowned performers and pedagogues, in addition to my 20 essays. So many other artists wanted to participate, but due to concert schedules or teaching commitments, had to pass on the project.  Everyone was so accessible and easy to work worth that it made my job as a compiler so much more enjoyable and rewarding. Each of the essayists “opened a vein” and wrote from the heart, and in many instances, they revealed how they overcame some of their personal fears of performing and teaching. Through their essays, they each revealed their humanity—and their being mere mortals like the rest of us! Except they are extremely talented mortals! 

(This is MH interjecting… Donn’s favorite story is about Bill Kanengiser, who will be in Austin this Saturday performing with the LAGQ!  Info Here!)

I had lunch with Bill Kanengiser when he was in town last year for a fundraiser. I told him that hearing world-renowned artists at ACGS concerts makes me return to my studio to work harder myself, but hearing and watching him in concert sometimes makes me want to torch my studio and everything in it! I thought I’d have to perform the Heinrich Maneuver on him he was laughing so hard.

MH: What’s your next classical guitar book project?

DL: I have floated a book proposal to the ladies of classical guitar, called Evening Star: The Feminine Perspective on the Art and World of Classical Guitar. And the interest is extremely high! The book will likely consist of original essays from the world’s leading women in classical guitar (both performers and teachers), but my involvement will be minimal, serving more as the compiler of the works. The classical guitar is fast becoming a vehicle for young women to find their own voice in an art form that has for so long been dominated by males. The plan is for a 2013 or early 2014 release.

To find out more about Donn’s book and other projects, you can visit his personal website.