Classical guitarist who suffered terrible hand injury set to appear at The Apex

World-renowned classical guitarist Milos has announced his return to the world stage with a major new album and UK-wide tour, three years after suffering a devastating hand injury.

Described by the Sunday Times as “The hottest guitarist in the world”, Miloš will call in at The Apex on October 3 with ‘Voice of the Guitar’, a programme specially designed to showcase the technical and expressive qualities of the classical guitar.

“Love at first listen” is how Miloš describes the moment when, as a child in Montenegro, he first picked up the old guitar that was lying around his childhood home.

“My father had been given this instrument by my uncle, but he didn’t have time to play it. One day, I remember picking it up and just starting to strum it. I totally felt like a rock star.”

Almost three decades later, the man who has since been described as “classical music’s guitar hero” by the BBC Music Magazine, grins at the memory.

“I thought: ‘This feels so good… I’m going to do this,’” he added.

Montenegro in the early 1990s was not an obvious gateway to future classical success.

“The Balkan wars were raging at the time when I started playing,” Miloš recalls. “We were less vulnerable in Montenegro, but it was a very isolated environment. My parents fought so hard to give us all they could and managed to create an atmosphere where family was truly everything. I think we became even closer as a result of that hardship. This experience so early in life made me really understand what family means. They were my first audience.”

His family were hence cautiously supportive when, aged 14, Miloš decided to go to a specialist music school rather than a prestigious grammar school.

“I was a really good student, and in Montenegro we didn’t have a strong classical music tradition” he explains. “Music was not a guaranteed existence, and when you are growing up in those difficult circumstances, your parents want you to have security.

“When I told them I loved music more than anything else, they said, ‘OK, we’ll support you in every way we can, but you have to work really hard and be the best, because otherwise it’s just not worth it.’

“That was something that really stuck with me. I indeed made a decision that guitar was going to be my life; that music was going to be my life; and yes, that I was going to be the best I could possibly be.”

Leaving the war-torn Balkans and arriving in London to take up a coveted place at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music was, he says, “a bit like going to Mars. I was clueless.” Nevertheless, Miloš stayed true to that work ethic and over the course of eight years built himself into a world class artist.

Fast forward to 2010, and he was signing his first record deal, selling out major concert halls and topping music charts around the world.

By any measure, this would have been a stratospheric rise for any young musician, but it was particularly breathtaking for a classical guitarist.

“You could pretty much count on one hand each time a classical guitarist has been ‘allowed’ to be in the spotlight in this way,” he jokes. “It was incredibly hard to break a glass bubble the industry created around us guitarists. I guess you could say I was also very resilient… And ambitious.” He laughs. “And very stubborn.”

From 2010 until 2016, Miloš gave hundreds of concerts at major concert halls and festivals around the globe – including the first ever sold out solo guitar recital at the Royal Albert Hall.  His 2016 record, ‘Blackbird – The Beatles Album’, included duets with Gregory Porter and Tori Amos, and was received with unanimous acclaim.

However, his stellar career was almost dramatically cut short when, exactly at his peak, he was struck down by a devastating hand injury which left him unable to play.

He recalls: “It was a really tough time. I developed a repetitive strain-like hand injury, which quickly spiralled into bigger issues. I tried every medical avenue to solve it and push on, but it just seemed to make it worse. Ultimately it went round and round in my head until I reached a point where I had to face the fact that I might never be able to play again. Being faced with the question, ‘what am I going to do if I can’t be a guitarist?’ was terrifying. Being a musician is all I ever knew.”

Following many months of aimless and frustrated wondering, Miloš finally managed to find the right kind of help to build his playing up again.

“It took time and a huge support network I’m so blessed to have, but it was still an excruciatingly difficult process – playing the guitar had always been so instinctive to me, and yet it now had to be relearned, recalibrated and understood from the core. It felt like learning to walk again.”

In August 2018, mentally and physically stronger, a fully-recovered Miloš made a triumphant return to the concert stage – and not just any old stage but that of London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, where, in front of 6,000 people he gave the world premiere of Joby Talbot’s guitar concerto, ‘Ink Dark Moon’, written especially for him.

In autumn 2019, he will release his fifth album ‘Sound of Silence’: a musical treasure trove that includes brand new arrangements of classical repertoire, affectionate nods to the pop world, and collaborations with his musical friends.

In support of the album, Miloš will tour the UK with members of the 12 Ensemble, showcasing the diversity of the guitar through Spanish classics, Latin American rhythms, baroque dances and popular arrangements.

Milos says: “This tour and the album are a very personal scrapbook of music that will always have a special meaning to me – from Bach to the Beatles, Granados to Portishead, Piazzolla to Radiohead.

“After a serious injury and a burnout that almost meant the end of my career in music, this programme aims to be a musical reflection on this perhaps most important time in my life so far. The Voice of the Guitar showcases my greatest musical influences and the music I love above all else.”

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