I hope Michael doesn’t mind me sharing this story before you get into reading his Q&A. He is first and foremost an artist worth listening to. Sharing his story is an honor. This began with an query from Michael that indicated he’d gotten the One Roof Publishing Q&A link from the Las Vegas Arts Council, and was interested in participating. I, of course, welcomed the opportunity. I always want to have a digital dialog with artists from every discipline. Fortunately, my first question was, “With your varied and successful career as a classical guitarist, what brings you to Las Vegas, N.M.?”
I can almost imagine the pregnant pause when Michael received the question. He promptly let me know he was in NEVADA and was unaware there was a Las Vegas in New Mexico, until now. So the crux of this story is that the local Las Vegas Arts Council ranks high in search engines! And Michael Lucarelli came upon it when searching for resources in that other place. Perhaps he will visit this Las Vegas and enjoy the history and charm of a true original.
Once Michael and I worked out the where, I welcomed his responses to my questions, which follow. Incidentally, he moved to Las Vegas, Nev., because of weather, which is more agreeable than the weather in Salt Lake City. “But it’s also great to be where the action is,” he said.
Michael’s bio excerpted from www.michaellucarelli.com: Award winning Classical guitarist Michael Lucarelli has enthralled audiences throughout the U.S. for more than 30 years. He is known for his diverse programming and expressive style, tastefully blending classical, popular, jazz, Spanish, South American, as well as his original compositions. He is an annual favorite at The Sundance Film Festival where he has entertained for industry notables such as Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Animation and Arts & Entertainment. His music videos on YouTube have received more than 35 million views from fans world-wide. He has twice received an Individual Artist grant from The National Endowment of the Arts. In 2014 Martha Stewart Weddings named him one of the top weddings musicians.
ORP: What drew you to pursuing music as a profession?
Michael: Luck, really. I was days from joining the military. I worked at Sperry Univac (computer factory ) for almost eight years, while studying classical guitar privately with Ricardo Lineres from Peru. I was also studying martial arts and going to competitions. After my roommate talked me out of joining the military, things fell into place and I took a leap of faith. I walked away from a career job with full benefits and went to the University of Utah in 1985. I started playing the guitar at various gigs the day I started college. Hard to believe I’m still doing it after 32 years.
ORP: When you started out, what was your goal?
Michael: I began playing the electric guitar in 1973. I wanted to be a rock star. I started classical guitar in 1980. When I began my career professionally in 1985, my inner wish was to write one great piece for the guitar. I’ve been blessed. Now I’ve written many. I am very goal oriented.
ORP: In what ways has your goal changed over the years?
Michael: I’m still composing much more prolifically than the early stages. One recent goal was to write compositions that were more intermediate. Another goal is to write a method book, which is 70 percent finished. But my current goal is to get something going in Las Vegas, Nevada.
ORP: In terms of your accomplishments, are you where you want to be as an artist?
Michael: I believe I did more than I ever expected I would do with music. I never thought I’d have 38 million views on YouTube, or I would release 15 CDs, or compose so much music. In some ways, I’m lucky; I just follow where the guitar leads me.
ORP: What gives you the greatest joy, practicing or performing, and why?
Michael: They’re different. Each is extremely enjoyable. Practicing is a sacred and special place, a completely different experience from performing live. There is a reason – if you love music – you practice for five hours a day.
ORP: What do patrons say that gives you the greatest satisfaction as a classical guitarist?
Michael: That comes from different angles. I love the comments I get from YouTube, people who say they started playing guitar because of me. In my case, it was Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. As an artist, when you give a concert, you always love when someone says how great you are or how much they enjoyed it, but when I read comments like these on YouTube it really moves me:
“My sister died last week. Thank you for helping me get through that.”
“I have a chronic heart condition. Whenever I’m having a heart attack, I put on your Moonlight Sonata and concentrate on my breathing. That’s helped more than anything I tried.”
It’s strange and heartening to know that what I’m doing can effect people on such a personal level.
ORP: Solo performance seems to be your preferred style. How do solo performance and performing with others differ?
Michael: Yes, I mainly do solo. I did play with a trio a few weeks ago. Several concerts I’ve done titled Lucarelli and Friends, are a mix of various ensembles. I love playing ensemble but it is a bit more work. Solo guitar creates its own unique world. But playing with so many ensembles over the years has helped me be a better soloist. You learn to phrase things differently. More importantly you learn to listen! I do have a CD, Romantic Christmas, with violinist Kellie Parkinson, and Romanza with mandolinist Martin Swick, who passed away a few years ago. I did release a CD this year titled Blue Sunday, which is more jazz and New Age, but I’m doing all the instruments, something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s on YouTube. You can stream it or purchase it on iTunes. It features me playing electric guitar on four tracks. I haven’t played Electric guitar since I was 23.
ORP: At this point in your career, are you satisfied with your level of performance, or is it always evolving?
Michael: It’s always evolving, and yes, I am satisfied. When it stops evolving that’s when I’ll call it quits. You get older, your vision changes, you have to deal with those things along the road, but you always seem to reach higher ground, explore different avenues. I never saw YouTube coming. That’s a whole other world. I was lucky to be at the starting gate. I never dreamed people would be able to see me play the guitar all over the world, and having viewed, would enjoy and be inspired by what I do.
ORP: What excites you as a musician and performer?
Michael: To make a better world and to light up the inside of people who connect with my music. Physicists think music is one of the highest achievements of man. I think most people would agree. To be able to try and express the inexpressible. Some people call it God. I don’t think there’s a word that could describe how it makes me feel. It would have to be a musical sound like om. To think that there are an infinite number of dimensions and we are only living in four! What else could you do but create art. I love to think what music would sound like in the fifth dimension, or 100th or 1000th or one millionth. It’s lovely to think about what I do with my spare time.
ORP: What is the one thing you want people to know about you?
Michael: I love the Beatles, and that I finally got – after years of study – the meaning of “…all you need is love.” It is the path to freedom.
ORP: What performances to you have coming up?
Michael: Aug. 5 I will be playing at the Park City (Utah) Arts Festival, Oct. 20 Las Vegas, Nev. I mainly play private events. We’re playing on the biggest stage – YouTube. I have several videos coming out including Take Five, House of the rising sun, and Come Together, starting the first Friday of each month.
To book Michael Lucarelli for an event:
Image: From Michael Lucarelli website