Michael Chapdelaine, Acoustic Guitar Virtuoso
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Michael Chapdelaine, Acoustic Guitar Virtuoso

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Michael Chapdelaine, Acoustic Guitar Virtuoso @ www.acadia-guitar-festival.com

Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada

Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada

Michael Chapdelaine, Acoustic Guitar Virtuoso @ Healdsburg Guitar Festival

Healdsburg, California, USA

Healdsburg, California, USA

Michael Chapdelaine, Acoustic Guitar Virtuoso @ Healdsburg Guitar Festival

Healdsburg, California, USA

Healdsburg, California, USA

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The music of Michael Chapdelaine had made a cameo appearance in Adam Holzman's encore, but nothing could have prepared us for the arrival of the man himself. A time-served classical guitarist who, in his own words, 'used to have a tuxedo', Chapdelaine has now reinvented himself as a ponytailed fingerstyle rocker, who performs on a metal-strung acoustic hooked up to powerful amplification while grooving around the stage to the beat of his own potent compositions. It's well-known that, when classical guitarists attempt to cross the divide, the bridge usually breaks halfway, assuming they even get that far. But Michael Chapdelaine has built his own bridge on his own terms and has grown from being a highly competent classical guitarist (as demonstrated on a superb retrospective CD titled The DBX Reels) into one of the most dynamic and free-thinking live performers you'll see anywhere on any instrument. Most astonishing of all was his wild reworking of Saudade No.3, in which an all-new central quasi-improvisation travelled from Stephen Foster to the Drifters (twice) and to Mungo Jerry(!) before finally returning to Dyens. But there's also a serious side to Chapdelaine, the excerpts from his own Homage to the American Indian, all of which were performed seated, revealing a capacity to create the most delicate and imaginative pictures in sound.

So ended an international gathering in which Greece's burgeoning guitar culture joined forces with some of America's finest. My warmest thanks to the all concerned, and will the next person checking into Room 421 please cancel the sandwiches.
Paul Fowles, Classical Guitar Magazine (August 2003)
- Classical Guitar magazine

Unexpected pleasures are often the best. Although Chapdelaine was previously unknown to me, I have seldom heard a more superb album. Other young guitarists have excellent technique, but few have such style and musicality, and Chapdelaine’s tone is the nearest to Segovia’s that I can recall. It’s rash, of course, to go overboard on the basis of a single album, but if I were marooned on a desert island with a limited selection of recordings, this one would be among my choices. (Newport Classics, 106 Putnam St., Providence, RI 02909) - Acoustic Guitar Magazine


Remember those old Venn diagrams from math classes? Two circles sharing a small common area. The teacher would ask what elements were in each circle & whether there were any "common elments" shared by both circles.

Suppose there was a diagram of champion guitarists. Circle “A" contains all Guitar Foundation of America classical guitar champions. Circle "B" contains all National Fingerstyle Champions. The intersection or common area of Circles A&B would contain all guitarists who have won both GFA Championship& National Fingerstyle Championship.

Question: How many guitarists are in the intersection or common area of Circles A&B?

Answer: As the Venn diagram above shows, a grand total of1 guitarist has won both GFA & National Fingerstyle Championships: Michael Chapdelaine.

Currently a Professor of Guitar at the University of New Mexico, Michael's newest release "Grapevine" is what happens when the only combined GFA & National Fingerstyle Champion turns his considerable skills & talents to "Pop" music. The result is a very, very cool CD!

Appropriately, "Grapevine" begins with a Motown classic "I Heard It Through the Grapevine". Trust me, Motown music was never like this; 1 man & 1 guitar & an interpretation that really draws the listener in. Motown music lovers will be thrilled to find "Spanish Rose of Harlem" played like no one else could play it.

The Eagle's track, "Best of My Love", captures the true spirit, intimacy & pain of the original. Somehow, Michael's version is even more soulful than the Eagles' original. “Drift Away", an old tune that most will associate with Rod Stewart's re-recording in his post-Ron Wood/Faces incarnations another soft tune that becomes poetry in Michael's hands.

MC, as he is sometimes know, plays Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" with a little Tom Petty "Breakdown" seamlessly incorporated. Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" will make you realize EC's genius in writing it & MC's genius in playing it.

No genre goes "uncovered" (pun intended) on "Grapevine" .J.S. Bach's "Jesu Joy of Man's Desire", the traditional Irish tune "Danny Boy" and the Roland Dyens' tribute in "Saudade" highlight MC's diverse musical tastes &his uncanny ability to play songs of any style.

The other two songs on the CD are the old McCoy's (remember them) "Hang on Sloopy" and "Mr. Bojangles" written by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1966 and recorded by the likes of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Denver, Neil Diamond and Sammy Davis, Jr.

"Hang On Sloopy" is pure, unadulterated 1960'sFUN; and that is FUN in capital letters. "Mr. Bojangles" is an emotional end for a CD that ends all too quickly.

This is an excellent "feel-good" CD; you will find yourself singing along and humming the songs long after taking "Grapevine" out of the player. After listening to this CD a lot, I would sure like to get my hands on the person who originally said "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach". They OBVIOUSLY never heard Michael Chapdelaine!

Rating: Excellent
- Guitar Nation

We've seen some great guitarists over the years, but none is more masterful than Michael Chapdelaine. His training shines through! Michael's playing comes from his soul, and the music just pours out of him and washes over the audience. Michael's skill on the guitar captivated our audience, bringing them to their feet and leaving them begging for more. His performance is particularly well suited to a house concert setting where the intimacy of his great performance can be truly appreciated. We can't wait to have him back!

Russ & Julie Paris
Russ & Julie's House Concerts
- Russ & Julie's House Concerts

Although rooted in the complexities of classical guitar, Michael Chapdelaine revisits his high school rock band days with the release of his new album, Replay. Chapdelaine, a guitar professor at UNM who has toured the nation as a soloist, remembers a time when music was a “haven of simple joy,” before it became a “proving ground for excellence.”
Replay, the seventh studio release for Chapdelaine, is a cover compilation of 16 songs from the ’60s and ’70s. “Here are 16 songs that I loved dearly during a very powerful and beautiful part of my life,” Chapdelaine states in the liner notes of the album jacket. “I love these tunes still, and can’t begin to express the pleasure that I get from playing them.” The tunes, performed on both steel-string and classical guitars, include such classics as the Beatles’ “Come Together,” John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone From the Sun.”
Though all cover songs, the material of Replay demonstrates how Chapdelaine takes his role of arranger to the level of composer and how an artist with his talent can make any classic his own opus. Instead of whole rock bands pounding out these classics, Chapdelaine has worked them into solo arrangements without compromising the melodies and their complexities. And in some ways, they sound more orchestrated than the originals. Chapdelaine pulls his classic stunt of sounding like more than one guy in this album by calling upon his amazing percussion and counterpoint abilities with the classical guitar. Once again we are left asking, “How does he do that?”
I am afraid we may never know, for Chapdelaine is a rare personality. In 1986, one year after Chapdelaine landed at UNM, he began studying with virtuoso Andres Segovia and is the only musician to win first prize at both the National Fingerpicking Championship and the Guitar Foundation of America International Guitar Competition. His solo style has covered all the territory from blues to Bach, and he admits that these latest popular recordings were more difficult than classical music ever was. A saner musician might say, ‘just get a band,’” Chapdelaine notes. “But after 25 years of being a classical guitarist, I am addicted to the high-wire act.”
The album cover also includes a startling photograph of Chapdelaine in his high school rock band days. Replay, along with five other releases, including Land of Enchantment, can be purchased online at www.unm.edu/~mchap.

- Daily Lobo

As carelessly as the word "virtuoso" gets tossed around these days, it still only characterizes a minuscule percentage of artists. New Mexico-based guitarist Michael Chapdelaine is one of the chosen few.

This past September, Chapdelaine added to his already impressive trophy shelf First Prize at the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kan. His latest recording, Land of Enchantment (self-released), is an inspiring collection of music that Chapdelaine describes as "a musical
portrait of my life in New Mexico, fashioned from the experiences, musical styles and techniques that I have known over the years." And indeed, it's easy to actually hear New Mexico in his playing -- from the wide open spaces and densely wooded land to the north to the solemn, peaceful deserts to the south. Of the 10 all-original tracks on Land of Enchantment, "Blue Chile" is the cornerstone, a perfect blend of blues and Spanish guitar music, mixed
with hints of bluegrass fingerpicking. The album is as enchanting as the state it honors. And Michael Chapdelaine is a consummate live performer whose passion bleeds from his fingertips.

-- Michael Henningsen
- Alibi

....... Red Sand, Homage to the American Indian, “I was expecting something hokey or maudlin, but instead was impressed by an impressionistic, gently modal work, melancholy, but never depressing, which used parallel fourths, bent notes, glissandi, and other devices to evoke rather than imitate Native American music......an ambitious and original work; Chapdelaine is as formidable a composer as he is a guitarist.” - Soundboard

Sunday, August 25th, 2002.

Michael didn't bother wasting his time establishing his credentials by playing "Leyenda" and "Recuerdos" first (I have heard Muriel Anderson and Sharon Isbin both do exactly that, but Michael is beyond giving the proverbial flying fig). He gave us a solid 40 or 50 minutes of arrangements of classic pop tunes, with 2 or 3 originals in the mix. The first three tunes were remarkable primarily for showcasing the "rock-n-roll Golpe", a trick of thumping relentlessly on the bass strings with the side of the thumb on the back-beat ( 1 - foomp - 3 - foomp etc.) It's very effective for creating the illusion of a rhythm section and solves that "empty sounding" problem that solo-guitar pop tune arrangements sometimes have. Also, it's a very comforting sound if you happen to miss sitting in traffic next to someone with sub-woofers in the trunk of the car. Later he changed the patch on the AG-Stomp and it mellowed out a little bit, or else yours truly just forgot about it because of the truly awesome guitar playing which was going on over the top of it.

About the fourth song in, we were treated to the surf classic "Wipe Out!" (groan) but this is where the audience surrendered and said, "OK, we admit it, you're great!". It was the classic shtick of "Watch how many things I can do at once!" - the bass, the drums, the complete famous drum solo. We wondered if this might have been what he won the Winfield contest with, but forgot to inquire. After this there was one more truly cheesy number, the theme from "Secret Agent Man" - but it was perfect. Michael had completely recreated being a 13-year-old with an electric guitar in the 60's and thereby attracted the envy of every geezer in the room.

At this point our guitarist shifted gears (changing the patch in the AG-Stomp, although the difference was too subtle for me) and explained that he had arrived at a point in life (but what he meant was a point in the set) when he realized that he would rather play music to impress beautiful women than to wow teenage boys, and proceeded to play some gorgeous arrangements of love songs. The highlight of these was George Harrison's "Something in the way she moves". (On the light gauge steel strings Michael could do all of Harrison's guitar work note for note, with string bends and all, in a way that is impossible on nylon strings.) We, the audience, surrendered to pure musical beauty for the rest of the set. Sorry the rest of you didn't make it!
-- john pearce
- John Pearce

"Chapdelaine's absolutely tasteful and stylish phrasing and the sensitivity of his playing, even at the beginning, were striking...And when he performs etudes and preludes by Villa-Lobos, with breathtaking technique, the Segovia student is hardly to be beat." - Elmshorner Nachrichten (Germany)

"Chapdelaine performed an understated but deeply engaging program...demanded of Chapdelaine contrapuntal independence, rhythmic fluidity, sustained energy and concentration, and received same..What was ultimately so satisfying about Chapdelaine's performance was the ability to work with in the confines of an instrument so severely limited dynamically and expressively, and even transform those limitations into virtues." Kansas City Star - Kansas City Star


re-replay 2006
Grapevine reserve 2005
Portrait de Femme 2005
Bach is Cool 2004
Guitar for Christmas 2003
Yamaha Sampler 2001
replay 2001
Spanish Roses 1999
Land od Enchantment 1998
Time-Life Music's "with love" 1995
Mexico 1992
dbx Reels 1989
* all of these albums have mp3 samples for each track at:


Feeling a bit camera shy


Michael Chapdelaine is the only guitarist ever to win First Prize in the world's top competitions in both the Classical and Fingerstyle genres; the Guitar Foundation of America International Classical Guitar Competition and the National Fingerstyle Championships at the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival at Winfield.

From New York's Lincoln Center to the Cactus Cafe in Austin, from Milano to Bangkok, Chapdelaine continues to enchant, dazzle and surprise audiences and critics alike as he redefines the modern acoustic guitar with his amazing technique, "soulful" expressiveness, and versatility as a performer, composer and arranger/producer. His performances, played on both steel string and classical guitars, include musical styles ranging from blues to Bach to country to rhythm n' blues as he wins his audiences hearts with breath taking technique and the poetic magic of his original musical portraits and landscapes.

In the 80's and 90's Chapdelaine proved himself to be one of the worlds finest classical guitarists; twice winning the coveted National Endowment for the Arts Solo Recitalist Grant, and taking First Prize in both the Guitar Foundation of America's and the Music Teachers National Association's Guitar Competitions. He also won the Silver Medal in Venezuela's VIII Concurso International de Guitarra "Alirio Diaz". He has toured four continents while giving hundreds of performances for Affiliate Artists Inc., and various arts promotion organizations. In 1992 he recorded the Sonata Romantica CD, which many critics and connoisseurs of classical guitar consider to be one of the definitive recordings for the instrument. Acoustic Guitar magazine wrote "... if I were marooned on a desert island with a limited selection of recordings, this one would be among my choices...I have seldom heard a more beautiful album. Other young guitarists have excellent technique, but few have such style and musicality, and Chapdelaine's beautiful tone is the nearest to Segovia's that I can recall."

In 1994 Chapdelaine turned his attention to pop music, in arranging, producing and recording Time-Life Music's beautiful Guitar by Moonlight collection, which sold 250,000 copies in it's first two years in the stores. In 1998, he once again, expanded his musical range and gained instant notoriety and credibility in the "acoustic music" world as a "fingerstyle" guitarist and composer, by winning the National Fingerpicking Championships at Winfield.

He has given master classes throughout the world including, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Peru, Venezuela, Taiwan, Indonesia and at institutions such as, University of Miami, Mannes School of Music, University of Texas, and California State University.

His teachers included the great Spanish maestro Andres Segovia.