MP3 Jurgen Ogrodnik - Plays Classical Guitar
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12 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Traditional, CLASSICAL: Bach
Wrangell St. Elias News
by Dorothy Adler
When one is in the company of a great artist, it is hard not to feel insignificant. Of course, everyone is an artist in his or her own right. But few, by comparison, seem to master their art. And while in our amateur eyes or ears these artists are indescribably magnificent, to them, their art form is never quite mastered and oneâs life as an artist is always work in progress.
In our modest little community of McCarthy, friend, neighbor, and local classical musician Jürgen Ogrodnik has begun to promote his second released CD, recorded in April 2002 in Germany. This CD of 15 classical compositions ranging from the greats like Bach to the more recent Lobos, was recorded and produced entirely in Germany by Jürgenâs good friend Helmut Alba. Six hundred copies recently arrived in McCarthy ready for distribution. Recorded in a 150200 year old stonewalled Protestant Church in a rural farming community close to Jürgenâs hometown, it is also the site of many other musical productions because of the churchâs great acoustics. Jürgen is preparing to tour Alaska with his CD and guitar and will play at various places in Alaska this fall/winter, beginning with a show in Kennicott on October 31st.
I recently caught up with Jürgen at his âcastleâ on the hill to talk about his new CD and his plans for the future. He was still harvesting his garden on October 12th when we arrived for dinner and conversation. For those of you who donât know Jürgen, aside from being an amazing classical guitarist he also has a green thumb, is a creative carpenter honing his European upbringing into a splendid log, cordwood, and rock home that some have dubbed the âcastle,â and an amazing historian, especially when it comes to the great composers. A wealth of knowledge and practical information, Jürgen has gained much insight from both his culturally-rich European rearing and his hands-on self-sufficient lifestyle in the Wrangell Mountains. Discovering this area in 1979, he soon after purchased his hillside property and made it his home. âI fell in love with this place and made the big move. I like to live in the wilderness and kind of check things out, you know.â Twelve years working as a commercial fisherman helped sustain his lifestyle but did not afford him enough time and energy to fully pursue his passion for classical music. Now entirely devoted to his music, he practices on average six hours per day. Still, the struggle to make it as a musician, let alone a classical guitarist, exists. Classical musicians often make ends meet by playing in orchestras. Living in the remote Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains doesnât exactly allow for such an opportunity. Still Jürgen has traveled a bit in Alaska playing in Valdez and the Anchorage area, and it seems as if his talent is called upon during the thriving summer months in McCarthy to play at weddings and the like. Heâs attempting to break free of the âstarving artistâ motif with the release of his new CD and the optimism that he can make it as a classical musician.
Jürgenâs life on his hillside is not met without the challenges that accompany all of us who choose to reside in this magnificently remote mountainous region of Alaska. A foot trail leads to his cabin perched on a steep hillside with fantastic views to the south of the Chugach Mountains. Itâs only a five to ten minute walk up the hill, but yet it keeps folks who donât like hill climbs from visiting. Jürgenâs 20 year old three wheeler makes the journey up and down the hill to help haul supplies, but most things, including much of the building materials for his home were hauled up on the backs of strong willed mind and bodies. His cabin is filled with the aroma of harvest time, and from various locations hang bundles of herbs from his garden, salmon that he caught, and vegetables also from his garden. After a feast of a dinner, five of us are sitting around the table listening to Jürgen pontificate about the influence of classical composers. He treats us to the fragrance of mason jars filled with dried veggies from his garden, and cup after cup of his famous herbal tea which a friend calls âSt. Jürgenâs tea.â Tea becomes a late night coffee session and the conversation turns to Bach, whom Jürgen says is the âEverest of composers. I really cherish the classical composers. But Bach is my hero.â I notice throughout our conversations that he is creating analogies for us four mountaineers to better understand his relationship to music. It is through these many comparisons he makes to climbing or skiing that we begin to understand his passion for music. As for his other musical inspirations? âThe work of the Beatles is totally unique,â Jürgen says, but he also lists The Rolling Stones and The Who as some of his personal favorites.
Jürgen began playing guitar at age thirteen. At 15 he began to study with the Japanese master Reisuke Gakon. For the next seven years Jürgen would study under the tutelage of this great man and it is here that he began to value the relationship between teacher and pupil. Jürgen was able to identify with his teacher, who like himself was one who had difficulty with authority figures. In the future Jürgen plans to become involved with the âartists in school program,â which sends Alaskan artists/musicians to remote areas (in Alaska) to perform and teach music at local schools.
Developing his technical skill as a classical guitarist has required an amazing amount of time, dedication, and sometimes a bit of sacrifice, but taking it to the next level, which is how the artist interprets the music is another level in and of itself. As I listen to Jürgenâs CD over and over again, I can hear his style and interpretation in thereâ¦as he says, âthe note is fixed, but itâs how you play the noteâ¦â
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