With traditional classical guitar works and covers of Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Portishead, Miloš returns with a new perspective on music. His new album “Sound of Silence”, is out now.
Classical guitarist Miloš should have had it all — and on the surface, he did. With a few successful and well-reviewed albums under his belt, Miloš looked to be reaching a peak in his career. An international tour had been booked for the 2017/2018 season, with a new recording in the works.
But then, the pain began. Perhaps it was the rigorous concert schedule, or the stresses of a high profile tour. The origins of the injury to his hand aren’t clear, but what is certain is that the pain became worse and worse over time, to the point of being debilitating. “It was all kind of spiralling out of control,” he says. “I was feeling so much pain, and so much tension in my arm.”
It led to a realization. “I can’t just keep pushing.” That meant cancelling the tour, a decision he didn’t take lightly. “I was devastated.”
Miloš had to concentrate on healing, and getting back to fighting form. The search took him to many doctors and medical specialists, with few concrete answers. “The more of them I saw, the more confused I was,” he says. “It became this huge monster I had to fight.” The struggle was both mental and physical. “Everything is crumbling. It was very, very heartbreaking. For the first time in my life, I had to let go.”
The experience, however, wasn’t without its brighter aspects. “It forced me to focus on the essence of what I’m doing, which is music.” He listened when he couldn’t play, immersing himself in the world he had known since childhood, and exercising the hand and arm as he could – even when it went against the advice of doctors. Gradually, the physical ability came back. “I came out the end of it,” he says. “We all come to a dead-end at some point. I’m a much better person, and a much better player.”
Miloš has been playing the guitar since he picked up an old instrument that was lying around his home as a child. At age 14, he enrolled in a special music school in his native Montenegro, later leaving the region to take up residence in London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. The city is still his home base.
In 2010, he signed with iconic label Deutsche Grammophon, and embarked on well-received concert tours, including a sold-out solo guitar recital at the Royal Albert Hall. The simply titled album ‘The Guitar (Mediterráneo)’ was released the following year. He followed with a second release, ‘Latino’, and his 2014 recording with the London Philharmonic of Rodrigo concertos garnered a lot of media buzz. The hype ratcheted up a notch for his next recording, ‘Blackbird — The Beatles Album’, in 2016. It featured duets with Anoushka Shankar and Tori Amos, among others, and was well-received by both critics and fans. BBC Music Magazine called him “classical music’s guitar hero”.
The new album, ‘Sound of Silence’, includes classical pieces along with arrangements of pop music by Leonard Cohen, Radiohead, and Portishead. He takes the familiar melodies and invests them with a richness of tone and colour, using layers of instrumentation along with the guitar, including strings and piano. His sensitive playing mines the emotion of the pop music songs, imbuing them with classical gravitas.
The choice of songs to cover comes, in part, from his convalescent period, and the music he listened to during that difficult time. “I was a listener and a consumer of music. I would open myself up a bit more. Within an artist’s life, there are these changes, these triggers.”
He says he’s “artistically happy” with the results with the music he reports was fun to record and play, and he’ll be on tour through 2019/2020 with a variety of projects, including solo recitals, along with dates to promote the album with the 12 Ensemble who backs him up on the release. Some of those dates should include Canadian cities into 2020.
“I love coming to Canada,” he says. In May, Miloš played a commissioned piece by Canadian composer Howard Shore with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. “They are the world’s most underrated orchestra. They play like god.”
Miloš’ new album, Sound of Silence is out September 13, 2019.