From the stage to the sofa 

Guitarist Jonathan Stuchbery is set to play as part of the Living Room Live series in Pemberton and Squamish

click to enlarge Guitarist Jonathan Stuchbery is performing in living rooms across B.C. this month. - Photo submitted
  • Guitarist Jonathan Stuchbery is performing in living rooms across B.C. this month. Photo submitted

This month, Jonathan Stuchbery is travelling from Spain to a living room near you.

The B.C.-raised guitarist was chosen for the winter tour of Living Room Live, a group that organizes classical music performances in living rooms across Canada.

Stuchbery is set to hit up sofas from Chilliwack to Pemberton, Squamish, Victoria and Nanaimo, to name just a few spots, through January.

"It's great the initiative is being taken to rebuild this connection with music that I think in some cases, especially in classical music, is being lost a little bit with the formal setting of the classical music concert," Stuchbery says. "There's not as much room for connection with the audience. So this house concert setting is the ideal setting for music, especially from 17th-and 18th-century Europe."

If that sounds specific, there's good reason. Stuchbery is currently living in Barcelona pursuing a Master's program in the performance of early music, studying plucked-string instruments like lutes and baroque guitar.

"My studies are a mix of large accompaniment instruments, but for my research [it's] a lot of baroque guitar," he says. "It's really stimulating I must say. There's an incredible wealth of knowledge in the instructors and musicians who teach here."

Stuchbery might be studying music at a high level in Europe these days, but he first picked up a guitar as a kid growing up in Squamish. "I had a lot of guitar instruction there," he adds. "It's an inspiring place."

Then, when he was 13, Stuchbery and his family moved to Penticton. Up until that point, he had mostly been learning rock and heavy metal music, but then he happened upon an interview with Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett who talked about taking classical guitar lessons to hone his chops.

"I thought, 'I should do that,'" Stuchbery says. "I found a teacher in Penticton. I didn't know much about classical guitar, but within a month, I was blown away by what I was learning."

There was no looking back after that. After high school, he moved to Montreal to study music at McGill University.

"To me, there wasn't any other choice. By the time I was finishing high school I was busier with music than schoolwork, really. That was a passion that filled my life. I applied for an arts degree as a safety, but when I got into the music program at McGill in Montreal, I was thrilled and that was what I continued to do," he says.

While he was in school, Stuchbery built up a network of contacts in Montreal before moving to Toronto for a year to do the same.

"Now I'm doing a lot more historical performances on lute and baroque guitar," he adds. "There are some good niches professionally in Canada to be able to work."

Next up, though, British Columbians will get a taste of those performances at the Living Room Live shows. "I'm very excited to be coming on this tour and coming back to B.C.," Stuchbery says. "It's been over three years since I've been there."

Guests can look forward to two sets of music from the 17th and 18th century. The first will feature music by French Lutenist Robert de Visée who played for Louis XIV and Louis XV.

"The second set is something I'm thrilled about too," Stuchbery says. "It's all Spanish music."

It will include songs by several Spanish composers from the Baroque period and "a set of traditional dances that came from the Spanish New World and Spain itself," he says. "What's really fun is people know these dances. They're still danced in the folk tradition today in Spain."

Stuchbery plans to share insights into the music from his studies during the shows as well.

"I'm definitely going to take advantage of the intimate setting to make conversation and talk about the guitarists and the social setting they were living in and the music itself," he says. "I think it's an important and useful thing to share with the audience. To know about the music, for one, I think it can help people create a different connection or personal connection to certain pieces."

Catch Stuchbery at the Living Room Live show in Pemberton on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. and in Squamish on Monday, Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

To find out more about where the show is in your community and how to buy tickets visit livingroomlive.ca/.

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