By James Clark
Oleg Timofey plays a seven-stringed guitar.
Timofeyev, now half of the musical pair the Czar’s Guitars, started studying music at the age of 15, when he took up classical guitar.
“When I was 20, I had something that could be called a guitarist’s crisis,” Timofeyev said. “I didn’t know what I should play and do with a guitar.”
It was during a trip to Moscow, when Timofeyev visited museum archives and looked at old guitars and music, that he realized the potential for Russian baroque music to make a comeback.
Because the traditional six-string guitar is widely used, Timofeyev said, it gives other forms, like the seven-string, room to be creative.
“What appeals to me particularly is the feeling of an alternative universe.” he said.
Baroque music leaves a lot of room for variation, Timofeyev said.
“With the seven-string, we keep discovering new composers and new ways of playing,” Timofeyev said. “Half of it is discovering forgotten things and the other is creating new things.”
Czar’s Guitars will be featured at the 35th annual Santa Cruz Baroque Festival. The next show will be tomorrow. the second of a five-part series that continues through May.
Linda Burman-Hall, the festival’s artistic director, started the event in response to those who wanted to hear Baroque music played live, not as a relic of the past. The musicians in the festival play instruments from the time period in order to ensure that the music sounds authentic.
This year’s festival theme is the music of royalty. Russian aristocracy often listened to Baroque music as a distraction from current events, said Timofeyev, who is originally from Russia. But because the music was only played for the rich and powerful, the peasant uprisings of the Russian Revolution at the turn of the century forced the genre underground.
“The guitar in general fell victim to the Russian Revolution,” Timofeyev said. “It wasn’t a progressive instrument for the future. It was branded as merchant-class music. As a result we were pushed back by several centuries.”
Today, the possibilities for the resurrected seven-string guitar seem limitless. UCSC second-year Alex Sands, a guitarist who plans to attend the Baroque Festival, sees the appeal.
“It seems that Western music is limited because it’s been explored so much,” Sands said, “but in places like Russia … it’s a whole new frontier.”
_The festival continues Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Music Center Recital Hall. Tickets cost $2 for UCSC students with ID._