Read Christopher's interview with the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter:
"Soothing Sounds" by Helen Clarke
Selected Quotes and Reviews
"Chris Cramer played with elegance and style." — Louise Goldstein, JSSMadison
"On Mother's Day weekend 2010, the first concert premiered in St. Martin Heritage Chapel. The audience was charmed by the classical brilliance of performers, soprano, Yi-Lan (Elaine) Niu and classical guitarist, Christopher Cramer with a prelude by harpist, Kathleen Arndt." — stmartinheritagepark.org
"Chris has proven to be a truly outstanding artist. His technique and musicianship was joy to experience when he performed on our Fine Art Series at UW-Manitowoc. There is no doubt that he has a fine performance career ahead of him." — Michael J. Arendt, Professor Emeritus UW-Manitowoc
"Chris Cramer performed in University Theatre on the UW-Manitowoc campus last Thursday, November 8, 2007. Performing under the auspices of the campus' Arts on Campus series, he enthralled the audience with his mastery of the classical guitar. The program included a variety of selections, with works composed from the eighteenth century to the latter part of the twentieth century. Throughout the program Dr. Cramer demonstrated his incredible finesse and sensitivity, qualities required to be a true master of the instrument. His performance was a joy to attend." — Linda Luchsinger, UW-Manitowoc
"Every song he played with his eyes closed, feeling the music and playing it by heart. The long pieces ebbed and flowed into each other nicely and blended classical styles from many countries. Cramer presented himself soft-spoken and very professionally. He introduced his pieces in a concert fashion and shared his knowledge of the pieces and artists as well as little stories about each of them. The pieces themselves were very advanced, full of heart, and sounded beautiful... Chris Cramer played them masterfully." — Jeremy Wilke, The Mirror
"Chris Cramer gave an outstanding performance on classical guitar at Lakeland College in 2006. Each piece was long, complicated and incorporated the entire fret board. Yet each piece was sensitively played while flawlessly committed to memory. Amazing!" — Professor William Weidner, Lakeland College
"Christopher Cramer presented a concert of varied and quite interesting repertoire. His technical cleanliness was impressive, as was his completely memorized program." — Dr. Joseph Testa, Edgewood College
"...Christopher Cramer exhibited more true virtuosity on the instrument." — Bill Fairbanks, The Scoop
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter
"Soothing sounds" by Helen Clarke
November 1, 2007
Classical musicians often have the reputation of being life-long slaves to their trade — pounding out "Chopsticks" on the piano before they can walk, and spending hours upon hours taking voice lessons and practicing violin.
But Manitowoc Lutheran High School graduate Christopher Cramer doesn't fit the stereotype.
The 31-year-old musician didn't pick up a guitar until he was a senior in high school, and in a span of only 10 years he learned the instrument, earned a doctorate degree and started a career in music performance.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, Cramer will play again in Manitowoc for an evening concert at one of his alma maters — the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc. It was there that he decided music education would be his path.
"The classical guitar and its repertoire encompassed everything that I was looking for in terms of variety and depth of music, technical complexity and purity of sound," Cramer said. "It has since blossomed into the beginning of a career as a concert artist."
Cramer transferred to UW-Milwaukee and then went on to complete his masters and doctorate degrees in music performance at UW-Madison. He continues to live in Madison. It was four years ago that Cramer last performed here.
"There is an extraordinary amount of music for the modern guitarist to draw on," Cramer said, "from traditional western classical compositions to nonwestern and indigenous music, and, of course, jazz-influenced and popular contemporary music."
His upcoming performance features traditional music from the baroque, classical and romantic periods, as well as modernist work from the late 20th Century including Turkish folk music; a piece that served as the main theme for the 1978 film, "The Deer Hunter;" and the work of a Cuban composer.
In keeping with the international theme, Silver Lake College will host another talented classical guitarist — David Burgess, 50, who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and has been performing for the past 35 years. He will be in Manitowoc on Sunday, Nov. 4, to perform an all-Brazilian program.
After visiting with an 80-year-old man in Brazil, Burgess returned to the United States with a six-foot stack of music. The bulk of it is heavily influenced by African music, he said, which is very percussive and rhythmic and also features Portuguese, Spanish and Indian styles.
"This is the kind of music that you can't find on the radio," said Burgess. "When I record CDs, they don't quite know where to put them."
Burgess said he was hooked on classical guitar after meeting Manuel Lopez Ramos decades ago in Mexico. He had just graduated high school and traveled with his guitar teacher to take a three-week class south of the border.
He later took a job on a cruise ship in Brazil and has spent his life learning the country's unique music.
"Old-style Brazilian tangos sound sort of like ragtime," Burgess said. "It's definitely not a rock concert … it's kind of a classical concert, but with more crossover. There's a lot of popular folk and jazz influence."
When it comes to inspiration, both Cramer and Burgess know the importance of following gifted musicians. While Cramer was listening to his dad's recordings of Andres Segovia, Burgess was taking lessons from the same instrumentalist who he said is known as one of the greatest guitarists in history.
Still, at the end of the day, music is all about a connection.
"I think what primarily inspires me as a musician is the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings that are beyond words," Cramer said. "There are moments when a performer and an audience connect on an almost transcendent level. It is the pursuit of those moments that inspires me."