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The Newman and Oltman Guitar Duo explores Leo Brouwer's music in 'The Book of the Imaginary Beings'

Newman and Oltman Guitar Duo
Michael Newman and Laura Oltman
form the Newman and Oltman Guitar Duo.

The duo visited IPR's Studio A to perform works from the new album and talk about their collaborations with the Cuban composer.

The Newman and Oltman Guitar Duo just released their tenth album more than 40 years after meeting as music students.

Developed in collaboration with Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, the album titled "The Book of the Imaginary Beings" draws inspiration from a variety of sources - from Spanish literature to The Beatles.

The title comes from Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges' book of the same name.

"The book is a little compendium of vignettes of all these creatures from around the world," Laura Oltman says. "Brouwer is very literary minded, so he wrote all these depictions of the creatures mentioned in the book."

The duo says they'd hoped to work with Brouwer for decades, but couldn't due to the United States and Cuba's rocky relationship.

"This was a project that I had hoped to be part of since the late 1970s, when we first met Maestro Brouwer at a festival in Canada," Michael Newman says.

In Studio A, Newman and Oltman played Brouwer's arrangement of The Beatles' "Fool on the Hill," which they say speaks to Brouwer's philosophies on all types of music.

"He arranged, in his inimitable fashion, pieces by Lennon and McCartney, sort of to legitimize their efforts - he didn't consider them to be inferior," Oltman says.

Newman and Oltman's album "The Book of the Imaginary Things" is available on iTunes and as a CD and LP on their website.

Listen to the full interview to learn more.

Music performed
Incidental Country Music - Leo Brouwer
Through the Looking Glass - Leo Brouwer
Fool on the Hill - The Beatles arr. Leo Brouwer

This edition of Studio A was engineered by Stefan Wiebe.

Kacie Brown is IPR's digital content manager.

Nancy Deneen is the host of Music at Midday and Music by Request.
Kacie Brown was IPR's Digital Content Manager until 2023.