BECOMING A CLASSICAL GUITAR ROCK STAR
By Lucy Kraus for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Encore Atlanta, January 2013
“I just adore performing — I adore being in front of people,” says the internationally acclaimed, 29-year-old guitarist Miloš Karadaglić. “When you’re practicing on your own, you’re preparing; on stage is when the music becomes complete. I use audience energy into my performance. I’m addicted to being on stage and sharing my music with people. If a couple of days go by, I almost feel withdrawal symptoms. This adrenalin is a much stronger chemical than any drug!”
Mr. Karadaglić, who is also known simply as MILOŠ, and who hails from Montenegro in the former Yugoslavia, has been on an adrenalin high for the past nineteen months, when his first album, The Guitar/Mediterráno, debuted and sold more than 150,000 copies, followed by Latino Pasión, another hit. The New York Times, in June 2011, termed him “a charismatic, sensitive player,” and the London Guardian described his nearly sold-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London as “an oddly hypnotic and quite extraordinary evening.”
Atlanta audiences will have the opportunity to savor his music-making on February 7, 8, and 10, when the guitarist — who could pass for a Hollywood film star — makes his Atlanta Symphony Orchestra debut performing Joaquin Rodrigo’s famed Concierto de Aranjuez, on a program with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture and Symphony No. 2, Little Russian. It will be led by the Chinese conductor Xian Zhang (pronounced SHEE’an JUNG) — music director of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi and artistic director of the NJO/Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy — who is also making her ASO debut.
“I’ve heard great things about her,” said MILOŠ, speaking from his London home following a two-month tour. “For me, it’s always such an experience to play with a conductor. A guitar concerto is very different from a recital. I’m excited to work with her.”
Ms. Zhang, who says she knew of MILOŠ from his recordings, promises that each concert will be “filled with music of romance and passion — a nice prelude to the upcoming Valentine’s Day!”
MILOŠ’s Atlanta appearance was sparked by his April 2010 performance in a showcase concert in London attended by ASO President and CEO Stanley Romanstein and Vice President for Artistic Planning Evans Mirageas. “It was one of those classic moments when we looked at one another and nearly simultaneously said: ‘He has to come to Atlanta!’ ” recalls Mr. Mirageas.
MILOŠ began playing the guitar at the age of eight, encouraged by his father, who had an old, beat-up instrument in the house. MILOŠ has said that when he picked it up, “I wanted to sing, play a couple of chords, have girlfriends, and maybe become a rock star!” But despite his initial interest, and his talent both as a guitarist and singer, he began to lose interest in his music lessons, and his father tried to think of ways to inspire him. “He put on a record of André Segovia,” MILOŠ recalls. “I had never heard anything so beautiful, so passionate, so romantic. When I heard Segovia play Albéniz’s Asturias, in my ears and my whole body, something happened. I thought, ‘I want to play this kind of guitar and for as many people as possible.’ ”
Soon he was performing concerts around the country, and at age 16, won a scholarship to London’s Royal Academy of Music, subsequently studying for a master’s degree there in guitar performance. He has since won numerous accolades, including the Julian Bream Prize, the Prince’s Prize, and the Ivor Mairnants Guitar Award, and was named Gramophone Young Artist of the Year, Echo Klassic Newcomer of the Year, and Classic Brit Breakthrough Artist of the Year.
MILOŠ cites the relationship between the guitar and the voice as an important ingredient in his work. “Every note that I play on the guitar I play as if I were to sing it,” he explains. “I use my ability with voice to sing with the guitar. It’s one of the most important elements of my interpretation — the contact with the strings, the place where the instrument is positioned, touching your whole body, and the feeling of the resonance of the sound box. It’s almost as if the sound were coming from your own gut.”
When he’s not performing — which he does about 100 times a year in both recital and with orchestra — MILOŠ says his other passions include attending opera and theater, reading, swimming, running, and fashion. “I love fashion,” he says with a laugh. “I’m a Montenegrin boy — we like to look good.” He also likes cooking for friends. “I love to cook anything Mediterranean. Montenegrin food is very mixed in styles.” His specialty? “I make the best lasagna you will ever eat!”