Performing Arts

Guitarist Maria Luisa Harth-Bedoya charms in Fort Worth concert

Maria Luisa Harth-Bedoya
Maria Luisa Harth-Bedoya Handout

Obviously, musical talent runs in the family.

Guitar Fort Worth opened its 12th season with a performance by guitarist Maria Luisa Harth-Bedoya and flutist Shauna Thompson on Thursday at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the new home for this classical guitar series that previously presented its concerts at Texas Wesleyan University.

The guitarist’s last name may be familiar, as she is the sister of Fort Worth Symphony music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya.

Maria Luisa Harth-Bedoya, like her brother, is a world class musician who has performed extensively in her native South America (she was born in Peru and now lives in Argentina) and in the United States. And the quality of her Thursday performance made it abundantly clear that Guitar Fort Worth did not just book her because her name might sell tickets. (Her brother, in fact, was not in attendance.)

One of the most appealing aspects of the performance was the charming set of works that Harth-Bedoya chose for her program. Most classical guitar concerts are heavy in Latin American composers, and this was true of her choices. But the composers she selected — a broad sampling of mostly 20th century South Americans — eschewed the usual suspects and introduced us to some new composers.

The concert did open with two familiar works by the most widely known composer on the program, Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. But after his Prelude No. 1 and Choro No. 1, the selections were much fresher.

Among the highlights was Terruno by Argentinian composer Quique Sinesi. It was a sweetly lyrical piece that often sounded like a particularly well-structured, romantic pop ballad, and it received one of the best responses of the evening.

Equally appealing was the cute and lithe Takirari by Brazilian Hector Ayala, which allowed Harth-Bedoya to show off a number of clever tricks, including adding a few percussion accents to her string work.

Harth-Bedoya’s solo portion of the concert closed with two dance pieces by Argentinian Cesar Angeleri, Vals del Buen Ayre and Chincha. The works were a perfect setup for the concert’s second half, where Harth-Bedoya was joined by Thompson for Astor Piazzola’s four-part suite, L’Histoire du Tango.

The flutist, who is a professor at TCU, was a superb partner for Harth-Bedoya. Her playing was exceptionally smooth throughout the piece, which was made up of sections that identified a certain time and place (Bordel 1900, Café 1930, etc.).

All the sections were engaging, but the closing, slightly edgy Concert d’aujourd’hui proved to be the best showcase for the performers’ talents.