2015 Gold Medal Winner Performs at Irvine Barclay Theatre

Meng Su Brings to Life the Spellbinding Rhythms and Melodies of Classical Guitar

Irvine Barclay Theatre
4242 Campus Drive, Irvine CA | 949.854.4646

Meng Su
Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 8pm
Tickets: $28 Adult; $14 Student/Child

Meng Su is quickly becoming one of the outstanding guitarists of her generation. Winner of the gold medal in the 2015 Parkening International Guitar Competition, the most prestigious title in classical guitar, Meng Su brings to life the spellbinding rhythms and melodies of classical guitar with her precise technique and an expressively varied tone. Performing an alluring program including the works of J.S.Bach, William Walton and Sérgio Assad, Meng Su "[has] the star potential to serve as inspiration for new generations of guitarists to come” (Classical Guitar Magazine).

Meng Su is the first guitarist to have won both youth and the main Parkening Competition. She is also the first female guitarist to both make it to the final round of the main competition and win the gold medal.


"Ms. Su’s captivating performance of Sergio Assad’s Aquarelle brought out the underlying Samba rhythms in magical fashion." −​

"…a meditative and improvisational interpretation full of exquisite rubato and colorful effects...that took my breath away.” − SF Classical Voice

Video of Parkening International Guitar Competition (Final)

Parkening Website

Interview with Meng Su

Artist Website | Facebook | Twitter

Lute Suite No.4 in E major, BWV1006a - J. S. Bach
Gavotte en rondeau

Sonata “Omaggio a Boccherini” Op. 77- Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)
Allegro con spirito                                        
Andantino, quasi canzone
Tempo di Minuetto
Vivo energico               

Five Bagatelles- William Walton (1902-1983)
  I. Allegro assai                                              
 II. Lento sognando
 III. Alla cubana
 IV. (No title)
 V.  Presto con slancia                            

Rounds - John Williams (b.1932)                                                                                                                                                               
Aquarelle - Sérgio Assad   (b.1952)      
Preludio e toccatina


Lute Suite in E major BWV 1006a by Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote six works for solo violin. He designated the first, third and fifth of these compositions as sonatas, and the second, fourth and sixth as partitas. The three partitas are dance suites, each with its own individual characteristics, which transform Baroque social dances into profound personal statements while retaining the element of dance. In these works Bach creates the illusion of a full harmonic and contrapuntal texture by means of single melodic lines which outline or suggest an interplay of independent voices − a technique originally developed by lute composers and perfectly suited to the guitar. The Lute Suite in E Major is an arrangement by Bach of his Partita in E Major for solo violin, perhaps done in connection with a visit paid to Bach by the great lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss. The brilliant, celebratory Prelude, which Bach also arranged for orchestra in Cantata BWV 29, establishes the joyful character of the whole suite. The gentle Loure is a slow and elegant dance and a model of peace and contentment. The graceful Gavotte en Rondeau alternates a playful theme with ever more intricate elaborations. The introspective Menuett further explores feelings of peace and contentment. The light, rapid Bourée and the rushing, exuberant Gigue bring this sunniest of suites to an emphatic conclusion. − Scott Cmiel

Sonata Omaggio a Boccherini, Op. 77 by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, an Italian composer and a Sephardic Jew forced to flee Italy’s anti-Semitic laws in 1939, eventually settled in Los Angeles where he wrote scores for many Hollywood movies and became the teacher of film composers Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams. Castelnuovo-Tedesco, whose classical compositions were championed by internationally acclaimed artists including Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky, Andres Segovia and Arturo Toscanini, was a gentle man, of aristocratic refinement, who wrote “I want to write good music without prejudice of any kind. I do not believe in theories. I have never believed in modernism, or in neoclassicism, or in any other ism.” First inspired by the great Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia, Castelnuovo-Tedesco wrote over a hundred works for the guitar, including variations, sonatas, incidental works, chamber music and concerti. The undeniably neoclassic Sonata Omaggio a Boccherini, Op. 77 is one of his finest compositions. Castelnuovo-Tedesco himself wrote of the work: “The Sonata is in four movements, but it is mainly in the first movement, Allegro con spirito, and in the Minuetto, that one can find the graciousness which was so characteristic of Boccherini. The Andantino, quasi canzone, on the other hand, refers to Boccherini’s ‘romantic’ mood, while the Finale, Vivo ed energico, highlights the bravura elements always present in his music.” − Scott Cmiel

Five Bagatelles by William Walton

William Walton’s earliest musical experiences came as a singer in a church choir where his knuckles were rapped by his father every time he made a musical mistake. He began to compose during his university studies at Oxford as a way to avoid returning to his home family. During this time he attended the Russian ballet, met Stravinsky and Gershwin, listened to jazz and wrote an experimental string quartet. On his first trip to Italy he found a congenial musical tradition and steeped himself in Mediterranean lyricism. The Five Bagatelles were written in 1971 for the great English guitarist Julian Bream. They reflect Walton’s taste for popular music and radiate an ebullient, joyful mood. The Allegro is characterized its rhythmic drive and sensual, sun-drenched Mediterranean color (Walton lived on the Italian island of Ischia during his later years). The Lento is an easygoing piece which exploits the guitar’s facility for pedal bass and parallel chords. Alla cubana is a Caribbean dance enlivened by percussion. The fourth movement is a love song, and Con slancio, always thrusting forward, is a virtuosic tour de force. This is some of Walton’s best-loved music. The thrilling bravura roulades, florid coloratura arias, bittersweet harmonies and graceful ornaments all lie easily on the guitar. Nothing is forced or unnatural, yet it is all totally original. The Five Bagatelles has become a mainstay for guitarists and audiences around the world. In 1976, Walton arranged them into five symphonic variations for large orchestra called Varii Capricci. − Scott Cmiel

Rounds by John Williams

An immensely decorated film composer, John Williams has been described by some as the world's greatest living composer. His film scores, Star Wars, ET, Jaws, Superman, Schindler's List and many others, have won him 5 Academy Awards, 4 Golden Globes, and 21 Grammy Awards.

Rounds was written for the Parkening International Guitar Competition, as a gift and appreciation to Christopher Parkening for his great work in the service of music.             

− From Christopher Parkening’s speech before the premiere of the piece.

Aquarelle by Sergio Assad 

Aquarelle is the French word for watercolor, a traditional painting style that uses pigments dissolved in water. The first time I saw a watercolor I was impressed by the number of techniques employed to spread colors in different textures that give an ethereal look to the painted subject. Following the idea of spreading pigments on a paper, I started building a motif of three notes like three different pigments that form the basis of a palette. Based on this single motif, I created multiple voicing layers to simulate the superposition of colors in an aquarelle. The three-note melodic material is reinforced by the 3-3-2 rhythmical pattern that is very common in Latin music and occurs frequently in the music from the northeast of Brazil. The piece was written in 1986 and was my first attempt at composing for solo guitar. It was in that same year that I met David Russell at a guitar festival in Israel, and showed him the piece. I had always been impressed by his excellence as a performer and was very pleased that he promptly decided to include Aquarelle in his repertoire. When the piece was published, it was a pleasure to dedicate it to him. – Sergio Assad


The 2015 Parkening International Guitar Competition Gold Medalist, Meng Su is the first guitarist to have won both youth and the main Parkening Competition. She is also the first female guitarist to both make it to the final round of the main competition and win the gold medal.

Meng Su has performed throughout Europe, Asia and United States, giving solo, duo, trio and quartet concerts. She has collaborated with various orchestras such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and the Knights Chamber Orchestra. She made her Carnegie Hall debut with Yameng Wang, her duo partner, in the Beijing Guitar Duo in 2010, which launched the duo’s international concert career. This season will take them to countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland, Serbia, China and the United States. Meng Su has also toured extensively with her mentor Manuel Barrueco, performing in trio in Europe and the United States.

Meng Su’s performances and recordings have impressed the public with “an ability and artistry that exceeds her years.”  Her debut duo CD, Maracaípe, received a Latin Grammy nomination for the titled piece, which was dedicated to the Beijing Guitar Duo by renowned guitarist/composer Sergio Assad. Their second CD, Bach to Tan Dun, has been widely noted for the world-premiere recording of Tan Dun’s “Eight Memories in Watercolor,” specially arranged for the duo. A recording in trio, China West, with Maestro Barrueco, was released in May 2014 to critical acclaim.

Born in Qingdao, China, Meng Su began studying the guitar at the age of five. She showed her talents from an early age and won first-prize in numerous international competitions, including the 5th Vienna Youth Guitar Competition, the 48th Tokyo International Guitar Competition, the 1st Christopher Parkening Young Guitarist Competition and the 2nd Iserlohn International Guitar Competition in Germany. In 2006, Meng Su came to the United States to study with the world-renowned guitarist Maestro Manuel Barrueco. She obtained her Performer’s Certificate and Graduate Performance Diplomas in both guitar and chamber music from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland, where she is currently completing her master’s degree.