Helen Avakian

Notes From Helen


Acoustic Guitar Magazine Review of "Notes from Helen"!
August 4, 2015

Just out in the September issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine: "Helen Avakian's first all-instrumental CD is an impressive introduction to the winner of the 2014 International Fingerstyle Guitar Championship... (Avakian) deftly serves up a wonderfully eclectic program that showcases the breadth of her talent as a solo guitarist working in a wide variety of styles... Guitarists will find much to marvel at: The arrangements are consistently imaginative..." Plus there are favorable to comparisons made to musicians I have long admired, such as Will Ackerman, Alex de Grassi, Micheal Hedges and even the Grateful Dead! I am so thrilled to appear in a magazine I have been enjoying since the early 1990's and before! An ad for the Walnut Valley Festival appears on the same page, a very cool and perfect juxtaposition! I first heard of the WV Fest from Acoustic Guitar, again back in the '90's when I read about National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion, the amazing Muriel Anderson. In addition, "Notes from Helen" would not have been made when it was if I had not won the International Guitar Fingerstyle Championship myself last September. The prize money and boost in confidence inspired me to record the CD.

 


 
Review from Midwest Record!
April 15, 2015

"Notes from Helen" has just received a positive review from Chris Spector of  Midwest Record. In the review Chris talks about one of my big guitar heroes, Muriel Anderson as well. Muriel and I have an upcoming concert together at The Towne Crier Cafe. Hudson Valley residents you are cordially invited!
 


"Notes from Helen" Review in Minor 7th! "an extraordinary CD"
February 25, 2015

Please check out my first officially published review of "Notes from Helen," by the highly regarded acoustic guitar webzine, http://www.minor7th.com. You can also listen to a podcast and even enter to win a copy of "Notes from Helen"!  Here is a quote from the review: "Notes from Helen is an extraordinary CD, ranking with the very best fingerstyle - or any style - guitar album." Céline Keating

I am off the charts delighted and grateful!!!


 
Fingerstyle 360 article!
January 19, 2015

I am excited and grateful to say I am featured in the prestigious and educational Fingerstyle 360! There is also a transcription of my Celtic influenced guitar instrumental, McTammy's Jig, along with stories and music of artists such as Adam Levy (guitarist and songwriter with Nora Jones), Stephanie Jackson (classical and harp guitarist who I had the pleasure of appearing with in the Woodchoppers Ball) and many others. The cover story is on the amazing Tommy Emmanuel, one of my major guitar idols! If you read the magazine (which I hope you will do) you will see my Taylor 714CE guitar with Tommy Emmanuel's autograph!
 


New CD!
January 6, 2015

  My latest CD, "Notes from Helen," is out! It is a collection of solo guitar original instrumentals plus arrangements of some of my favorite songs by artists Ralph Towner, George Gershwin, Stevie Wonder and The Beatles. I am most fortunate have an appearance by Guitar Star, Pete Huttlinger, in a duet performance of his lovely "Monaghan Jig." You can order the album on the CD page!

 

 

 


 
What a Week! Day 7 Pete Huttlinger!
October 1, 2014

As  mentioned at the end of the Day 6 blog, Pete Huttlinger invited me to join him at his 12 noon set on stage 3 at the Walnut Valley Festival. We met around 11:00 am to rehearse a bit. I arrived extra early of course. Pete suggested I play one tune on my own then we would play a couple together. I wanted to play Monaghan Jig which is one of my favorite Pete Huttlinger pieces. He arranged a traditional Irish fiddle tune in a beautifully inventive manner. The intro and outro have more modern chords than often heard in Irish traditional music like major 7ths and power chords, plus he has a percussive part that I just love. Pete put a lot of of open cross strings in the tune itself. Often one plays a higher note on a lower string then a lower note on a higher open string which gives a very full and legato sound. When I learned how to play this piece, the cross string part was so hard to read for me because of the disorientation of playing so many lower notes on higher strings that it basically forced me to memorize the music right away. The music is available in The Pete Huttlinger Collection Volume 1 c. 2004 Instar Records. I first arranged it for my Dutchess Community College Guitar Performance Ensemble and Classical Guitar Class. We had a lot of fun (and challenge) putting it together for a spring guitar party. Then I started performing the piece solo.

Pete was agreeable to playing Managhan Jig (yay!) so we rehearsed that. Since I was playing it as written with a few embellishments I added at the end Pete made up another part on the spot to go with it. Two times through and we were ready. I asked him to play with me on the title track from my album "I Love the Moon." The first time through I was in musical nirvana! His playing supported my playing and voice in a manner that brought the song to life for me in a way I had not heard or felt before! Pete Huttlinger was John Denver's guitarist in the last years of Denver's life, and he also plays with Lee Ann Rimes. I immediately heard and felt why they would love to have Pete in their band. We ran the song  2 or 3 times. It felt better and better, as I said true musical nirvana form the get go for me!

Then Pete went onstage and started his set. He said he would call me onstage later in the show. I practiced and listened backstage until he said my name and introduced me as the new 2014 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion. It was a packed audience. I performed Zambra which went well and went over well. Then we played Monaghan Jig together which was a major thrill as you can probably imagine. Pete jokingly said "What do you do with a musician who plays your music? Keep them around!" Before we played he asked if I ever played Stage 3 before. I said I had due to winning the NewSongs Contest in the past. I said I finally played all 4 Winfield stages because I had made it to Stage 1 for the winners performance. I said "I finally made a grand slam!" So Pete said that line in the show (I was honored.) He said "It took me years to play all 4 stages. I said it took me years as well!" 9 to be exact. Then we performed "I Love the Moon," and that was one of my top most happy experiences ever on stage. I hope I can record that and Monaghan Jig with Pete someday not too far away....

After the show Pete asked me if I would like to join him for another show that evening on Stage 3 with Mark Sganga (International Fingerstyle Champion 2009 and my touring buddy a few times) and Tim Thompson IFSC 2009 for some Beatles songs so we would have a performance with 4 champions onstage. Well, yeah, I would love to! Pete invited us up at the end of his set and we played While My Guitar Gently Weeps and When I Saw Here Standing There. Amazing experience!!! It was the most incredible way to wrap up a most wonderful week in my guitar and personal life. I could not have planned something so perfect if I tried. Huge gratitude for this week of wonder! Yeah, What a Week!!!


                 


 

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