West Mifflin guitarist to perform at Heinz Galleries at Carnegie Museum

| Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 3:06 a.m.

The image looks like something straight out of “Game of Thrones” but the Albrecht Dürer engraving “Knight, Death, and the Devil” is in fact 500 years older than the HBO hit series.

Guitarist George Sabol offers a fresh take on the print depicting an armored knight's encounter with death and a goat-headed devil this Thursday at the Heinz Galleries at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland.

His composition based on the 1513 print and other music inspired by artworks in the museum's latest exhibition — Small Prints, Big Artists: Masterpieces from the Renaissance to Baroque — will be performed under the auspices of the institution's Culture Club concert series, which runs from 5:30-9 p.m. Admission is $10.

Sabol, who is from West Mifflin, said his composition has two main parts representing the knight and devil.

The first movement is played on acoustic guitar and, according to Sabol, “is a song about perseverance” and the knight's confronting death. Much of the piece is melancholy but Sabol said it ends on an uplifting note.

The second part, played on electric guitar, represents a confrontation between the devil and the knight. Sabol said it uses elements of heavy metal and ethnic music to make its point.

“It's beckoning, like something wicked that's on its way,” said Sabol. “When it kicks in, it's very intense.”

Sabol, who comes from a classical and heavy metal background, will play live with preprogrammed accompaniments.

His musical résumé is impressive. In 2003, he released five-song instrumental EP “Nocturnal Overture” and the album “Eternal Darkness” in 2004. That same year, Sabol played alongside noted musicians George Lynch, Vince Neil, Jag Panzer, and Primal Fear on the album “Evil Lives: A True Metal Tribute to Black Sabbath.”

In 2008, Kennywood Park commissioned Sabol to write theme music for its Phantom Fright Nights.

“Pretty much all the music I have written in the past is strongly influenced by visual things,” said Sabol, who has used films and images of Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff as catalysts for other pieces. With regards to the art that inspired him on this latest project, Sabol said, “The etching is just incredible.”

Lucy Stewart, associate curator of education for the Carnegie Museum of Art, said Sabol was natural choice for the old masters performance based on his previous work.

There will be four other musicians performing original works Thursday. Matt Aelmore will perform a piece based on Rembrandt's “The Three Trees”; Rob Frankenberry will play music inspired by Jacques Callot's “Riciulina and Metzetin”; Jonghee Kang will offer his musical take on the work of Giovanni Battista Piranes; and Jeff Weston performs music he wrote about Rembrandt's “The Flight into Egypt: A Night Piece.”

Stewart said the composers were allowed to choose from any of the works in the exhibition.

”We said, ‘Have a look and let us know which one strikes you. Use as point of departure,'” Stewart said. “When we have these prints, which are 400 to 500 years old, we think about how they relate to every day life. Music of our moment is one way to do this.”

The featured print will be projected behind the musicians for each performance. The museum is also offering a smart phone app that lets patrons listen the compositions as they tour the exhibition.

The exhibition runs through Sept. 15. For more information, call the museum at 412-622-3131.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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