Stepan Rak | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Stepan Rak 

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STEPAN RAK

Czech guitarist Stepan Rak is the sort of player that regularly achieves the impossible on his instrument, making things like contrary motion, autonomous simultaneous rhythms, and two-string tremolos seem as easy as barre chords. He's also a double threat--a player and, since the late 60s, a composer. The 51-year-old resident of Prague has a large, varied, somewhat romantically inclined corpus, much of it centered on his own magnificent stringsmanship. A deep connection to the flamenco tradition seems to inform much of his work, manifesting itself in a hard attack and a lush Iberian harmonic sensibility. But underneath it all lies the antiestablishment spirit of the Eastern European underground--Rak is liable to sing along with his playing or turn the guitar into a percussion object; he often uses parodic and humorous devices, including pastiche and idiomatic reference. In town for a month thanks to a grant from the Chicago Artists International Program, Rak will perform a solo program that will include the world premiere of The Chicago Suite, a three-part piece he's just finished. Afterward classical guitar aficionados can hear a separate concert by young Viennese virtuoso Helmut Jasbar, who is also active as a composer. Friday, 8 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666.

JOHN CORBETT

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Jan Matej Rak.

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