• Bob Golden on Guitarists John Williams and John Etheridge

    Legendary classical guitarist John Williams and jazz-fusion guitarist John Etheridge have collaborated for more than a decade. On March 18 in Zankel Hall, they perform an eclectic mix of music for duo guitar, illuminating their distinctive skills and showcasing a wealth of musical experience across musical genres.

    Music industry veteran Bob Golden points to the pair as evidence that "the widely held perception that the guitar is a limited, even primitive instrument" is a mistaken one.

    Guitarists—by temperament and historical inclination—are instinctive collaborators and accompanists, as well as, inevitably, duo partners. Among such presently numerous pairings, perhaps the most luminous is the first-tier guitar tandem of John Williams and John Etheridge, respectively the instrument's premier classical virtuoso and the equally esteemed and recorded multi-genre guitar legend. Between them, the Williams-Etheridge Duo combine five centuries of classical, jazz, world, rock, folk, and new-age inspirations to create a peerless musical experience applauded by awed critics and mesmerized capacity audiences the world over.

    Even today, it is still a widely held perception that the guitar is a limited, even primitive instrument despite the achievements of Segovia and other innovative predecessors. With Williams unquestionably among the most recorded solo guitarists of the past half-century, and more than 200 Williams and Etheridge individual album releases to date, these resourcefully versatile musical masters have, perhaps even more than any of their contemporaries, notably expanded the publically perceived musical boundaries of the guitar. Both partners are famously, fiercely, and most visibly major proponents of their chosen instrument in all its possibilities, and over the years have found their association to be a most ideal platform to educate an increasingly growing international public to the limitless potentials of guitar music.

    Their critically applauded bestselling 2006 Places Between album typically features works by the two guitar masters and a widely disparate range of genres and international composers that span the previous two centuries. Williams has said, "In every contemporary activity in music, whether it is commercial music, film music, popular music, jazz, and all these influences that are now called world music or ethnic music, the guitar is a crucial part of it—not just an extra thing you have to adapt, a little imitation of something to play on guitar, but it actually is an integral part of what all these cultures are doing and using, so in that way the guitar is unlimited." And, as Etheridge once remarked in a 2007 interview about his partnership with Williams, "There is no limit to what we can do together."

    —Bob Golden is a veteran of the music industry who is currently vice president of marketing at Carlin America, a major multinational music publishing corporation.

    John Williams and John Etheridge perform part two of Paul Hart's Ludwig's Horse. They will perform the piece during their March 18 concert.

    Related: March 18, John Williams | John Etheridge