Solo performances by either of them have charmed audiences and garnered various music awards. But when Muriel Anderson and Howard Levy come together, the musical result is so cohesive, it's difficult to describe for Anderson, a Downers Grove native who now resides in Nashville.
“ We found when we play together, there's some really cool camaraderie that happens,” says Anderson, one of the world's foremost fingerstyle guitarists and harp-guitarists. “It's something that's greater than either of us.”
Anderson previously had invited Levy, a Grammy Award-winning harmonica and keyboard wizard, as special guest at her annual post-Thanksgiving concert in Downers Grove. She knew after a single performance together, she'd want him by her side again.
She considers Levy one of the greatest musicians in the world.
“ His main instrument is the harmonica,” she says. “What he's able to do with that, as well as the piano and other instruments, is unbelievable.”
So when asked to return for a solo performance at the Woodstock Opera House, she decided to bring Levy along. She had played in Woodstock several times before for various guitar nights. The two will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 30.
“ I wish there was an easier way to describe what I do, and what it is that we do,” Anderson says. “Some of the tunes are purely for fun, imitating the sound of an entire bluegrass band on the guitar or imitating the sound of an entire marching band. Other tunes reach very deeply, with some vocals and some tunes I've written that reach a very special place, a very deep place.”
Through her unique approach, she can play a Beatles tune one minute, Chopin's “Minute Waltz” the next.
Anderson will bring along her harp-guitar, which she says will give the audience a rare experience. Also an instructor and author, she hopes to inspire with her performances.
She founded Music for Life Alliance, a nonprofit charity that facilitates efforts to make music learning accessible to young people who may not otherwise be able to experience it.
“ I always like to encourage musicians, encourage people to make music themselves,” she says. “It's become so important to me as a person. …
“ My Downers Grove show kind of kicks off the Christmas season between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she adds. “I'd like this to kick off the Easter (and) Passover weekend for people, and give them a little inspiration and leave them smiling."
Anderson, the first woman to have won the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, creates music that crosses numerous genres.
She's recorded with country legend Chet Atkins and performed at Chicago's Orchestra Hall with the Chicago Symphony, and in Tennessee with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra.
Her technique stems from classical guitar, but she also has roots in bluegrass, jazz and alternative music.
Levy has roots in international music. He's perhaps best known for the four CDs he recorded with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones in the 1980s. He got back together with the band in 2010, and recorded the CD “Rocket Science,” touring with them in 2011 and 2012.
He's now the music director and chief composer for the Latin and jazz group Chevere de Chicago, and has released his own classical CD.
HEAR THEM PLAY
WHAT: Award-winning fingerstyle guitarist and harp-guitarist Muriel Anderson will perform with special guest Howard Levy
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, March 30
WHERE: Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock
COST & INFO: $25; 815-338-5300, www.woodstockoperahouse.com