ONE of the world’s leading classical guitarists Craig Ogden is performing at Salisbury Cathedral on Wednesday.

He is giving the first concert in the cathedral’s South Transept series, which replaces the annual organ recital series while the Father Willis organ undergoes repair.

Craig, who has frequently topped the Classical Music charts, will be playing a programme including work by Augustin Barrios, Bach, Scarlatti, Napoléon Coste’s Le Depart, Asturias by Isaac Albéniz, and Francisco Tarrega’s evocative Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Memories of the Alhambra).

He said he was "extremely pleased" to be performing at Salisbury Cathedral, adding: "I love all the concerts that I do but the fact it is in the cathedral makes it special."

He says his programme will feature a "real variety" of classical music and he will also be talking about all the music with the audience during the performance."

"Even if people feel they know nothing about it, I try to make it approachable and relaxing as I possibly can. So not having been to a concert before shouldn't stop anybody with an interest in music from coming along," adds Craig.

"Classical music has this image of black tie and people sitting on stage and not saying anything. These days it is much more like a lounge room sort of entertainment where someone comes and talks to you. I take the music making extremely seriously but the presentation is much more relaxed than it used to be.

"It makes concert giving much more accessible to a broad range of people but even for people who are regular concert goers. Increasingly, we hear that they like to hear the performer speak so they feel they get to know a little bit about the performer's personality and makes them a bit more amenable to the music."

When asked his favourite music to play, Craig says: "If I had to pick one it would probably be Bach because the more you play it the more you find in it. But, really what my recitals are all about is variety and that means playing stuff across many centuries, across many nationalities and sometimes I play some really effective jazz arrangements of things as well."

A visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Music in London and head of guitar at the Royal Northern College of Music, Craig is no stranger to major music venues both here and abroad, but alongside the grandeur of the Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall he has played in shopping malls, village halls, and even in a huge Australian mine.

"Inevitably you remember the big ones," explains Craig. "I've played at the Royal Albert Hall five or six times. That's quite an intimidating space to walk out into but once you have got over the nerves it is a real adrenaline rush.

"The nicest places to play as a guitarist are lovely small, resonate venues like churches where the audience is close to the sound which rolls around beautifully. House concerts where you can really connect with the listeners as well. They are all memorable experiences but if had to single out one as one that really lingers in your mind it would be a massive occasion like the Royal Albert Hall."

Craig says he was inspired to learn how to play guitar by listening to American singer-songwriter John Denver.

As he explains: "When I was about five I just loved his songs and used to listen to them all the time. All his stuff was guitar-based and so that made me want to play the guitar. So I nagged my parents for a couple of years and started having lessons when I was seven.

"My teacher just introduced me to the finger picking style of playing and that sort of headed in the direction of classical music. I just fell in love with that way of playing and it lead to all the music I play today. It was really natural, I didn't like reject rock or pop or jazz or anything like that. My first interest was always this style of music. Also these days there are plenty of connections between classical jazz, rock, pop, everything so it's not the massive division that people might think there is."

"From my mid teens that was what I was aiming for [to be become a professional musician] but you can never take anything for granted so it was just an aim or dream. I just kept my head down and went at it, and I've been incredibly lucky. I definitely had the aim and ambition then what actually happened is things can go either way. I'm really lucky to make a living out of playing the guitar," he continues.

As a classical guitarist Craig must take care of his fingernails and admits he always has a special emergency kit at hand, which includes glue and a ping pong ball.

"Classical guitarists play with their fingernails and if you break them you have to fix them. You can't play with a broken nail.

"The most common fix, if you have broken a piece of nail off, split it or worn it down to much through practice, is to super glue a piece of ping pong ball underneath the remaining nail. Ping pong balls are very similar in texture to to a fingernail and it is also slightly curved so it makes the perfect fake nail replacement.

"Ping pong ball and nail scissors are a guitarists emergency fix kit. In my case I always have super glue and a ping pong ball just in case."

On his plans for the rest of the year, Craig said: "It's an interesting year. Trips abroad are dotted around. I've got visits to Cyprus, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Australia. Then I'm doing a week on a classical cruise to the Canaries at the end of October. A really lovely series of concerts around the country."