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Eric Henderson performed with the world famous concert instruments for the first time on October 1st, in Bridge Hall at the Neighborhood's Congregational Church. After painstaking hours on choosing from Jim Sherry's world renowned "Vault" of classical guitars, Henderson said of the one he chose, "I can't believe what a difference this guitar has made in my tone. I'm a different guitarist because of this. I don't know what I was missing."
Henderson, at 13-years old, trained for a year exclusively with the inimitable Spanish classical guitarist Segovia. In May a phone call from Segovia's son, Carlos Segovia, encouraged Henderson to select a favorite guitar from Jim Sherry's 30 year collection of the world's finest guitars.
Henderson remarking on his conversation with Carlos Segovia said, "he had heard me on YouTube and told me he didn't like the soud of the guitar I was playing. He was brutally honest. He said I needed a proper concert instrument." After this conversation, Henderson and his wife Virginia, flew to Chicago from Laguna in August he met up with former concert guitarist, Chris Ameotte and his wife Kathleen. Ameolette initiated the exchange with Sherry and they selected the guitars to be tested at Sherry's "Antigua Casa Sherry-Brener private museum." In "the Vault", a legendary room where eminent classical musicians would come to make their selections of precious instruments from Stradivarius and Greiner violins to Herman Hauser, Santos Hernandez and Jose Ramirez guitars. "It would blow your mind. They're historic guitars. It's overwhelming", Henderson said of "The Vault."
After several arduous hours of tuning with the help of their wives, and selecting the best guitars from the best, Henderson returned to his hotel with two guitars to make the final selection. Henderson said he tested the two guitars until midnight.
Henderson had last seen his master in 1975, a few months before Henderson's first European tour when he was just 17. "He was basically lecturing me about repertoire," said Henderson, remembering a strict taskmaster he always felt timid around. Henderson did notice though the guitar that Segovia was playing that day, and the luminous Brazilian rosewood back.
While making his final selection, Henderson purposely had not looked at the backs of the guitars. " I didn't want to prejudice myself," he said. As he flipped the back over on his final choice of guitars, Henderson saw that he had chosen the guitar Segovia was playing at their final meeting.
Tragedy struck Henderson in 2002 when he was diagnosed by doctors having necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating disease. Just 3 days after the diagnosis, the disease was disintegrating his right arm.
After a skin-grafting operation, Henderson regained consiousness briefly during a nine-day coma only to stare into the gouged cavern of his splayed right arm. He panicked to the point of needing sedation, overcome that his arm, his purpose and his carrer was destroyed.
When he fully regained consiousness, playing his guitar was the first thing on this mind. After years of excrucating practice, Henderson regained full use of his right arm and hand. Along the way, he developed unique techniques for his left hand, the most difficult of which he said he is now perfecting. "I'm obsessed with it," he said. "It's one of the hardest things I've ever done." He promises, as always, to provide an unique and mystifying experience.