Peter Fletcher distinctly remembers his first guitar lessons. It was roughly second grade. Santa brought him a guitar for Christmas after a year of strumming on a baritone ukulele. The first song his teacher taught him was a piece by well-known composer, Bach.
“I didn’t know you could play this on the guitar, I walked out walking on clouds,” Fletcher said.
While other guitar students might go on to repeat chords made famous by rock and roll bands, Fletcher stuck with classical music.
“It resonated with me for some reason at a very early age,” he said. “If you’ve ever had something reach out and hug you and become a part of you, that’s what happened the first time I heard classical guitar.”
Fletcher has been performing classical pieces on the guitar ever since.
On Feb. 5, he will perform a solo recital at South Baldwin Community Theater to benefit the Coastal Ballet Company, a non-profit organization that enhances the physical, emotional, and mental development of children through the art of ballet.
Fletcher is in demand as a guitarist in cultural venues throughout the country and regularly performs more than 100 concerts each year. He has been invited to perform in many prestigious venues as well, including St. Philip Cathedral in Atlanta; the Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
For the uninitiated, Fletcher does more than simply play classical pieces on the guitar. Much of the music written by Bach and other legendary composers was written to be performed on cellos, violins and pianos.
Fletcher must first transcribe those notes and musical movements to be played on guitar. The transcribing work is in itself, an art.
“I have to choose a piece so that when it is transcribed it sounds and feels like it belongs on the guitar,” Fletcher said.
Because the piano has more notes than a guitar Fletcher said often he boils the music down to the essentials and ends up removing notes from the piece.
“You can’t change the melody, you can’t change the bass but you can do some minor surgery and turn it into a guitar piece,” he said. “It’s like looking at the music through a different lens.”
Fletcher's performance program will feature Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and the Lute Suite No. 1 by J. S. Bach; Caprice No. 24 by Niccolò Paganini; Five Bagatelles by British composer William Walton; Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Spanish guitarist and composer Francisco Tárrega; Concerto in D Major by Antonio Vivaldi; and two original transcriptions from his critically acclaimed album, Fedrico Mompou, released in 2002.