Lily Afshar Goes Fretlets

For the uninitiated, the world of classical guitar may seem irretrievably mired in the past millennium. But while Bach’s Bouree may long remain a prerequisite of early classical studies, the current masters of the art are certainly not guilty of allowing their repertoire to stagnate. Iranian-born Lily Afshar—now the head of guitar studies at the University of Memphis in Tennessee—is a prime example. With her fourth album, Hemispheres [Archer], she has not only ventured off the beaten path of traditional Western European influences to explore ancient Persian melodic themes—albeit restated by adventurous contemporary composers—she has even modified her instrument to accommodate the quarter tones that make those phrases so exotic to the Western ear.
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