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"The classical guitar is considered a kind of old-fashioned instrument," Miloš Karadaglić told me while warming up for his Tiny Desk Concert. One of the chief goals for this supremely poised 28-year-old from Montenegro is to bring the guitar to a younger audience, "to let them know that it's cool," he says with a warm smile.
His new CD, Mediterráneo (on the venerable Deutsche Grammophon label), and this performance in our NPR offices should help with that goal. His playing is crisp, colorful and rhythmically alive. As for the repertoire, Miloš (he likes to go by just his first name) aims straight down the Spanish-oriented line with "hits" by Albéniz, Tárrega and Granados. Some might call that playing it safe. But it's also a risky way for the new kid to prove what he can do with the guitar warhorses.
As a child, Miloš was encouraged to become a singer, but then he stumbled upon a dusty, broken-down guitar that belonged to his father. Years of concentrated study earned him competition trophies in his homeland, and at 16 he fashioned a homemade demo tape that landed him at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
It was in London where Miloš first heard the music with which he ends this Tiny Desk Concert: the suite Koyunbaba.
"I was very homesick at that point," he says, "and it reminded me of the places I used to go as a child. It's based on a Turkish shepherd's song, which is then developed all around the fingerboard with some extraordinary techniques."
Miloš likes to play the piece wherever he goes, always having a reminder of his homeland. Judging from his popularity so far — his CD was a chart-topper in the U.K. — and his fast-growing touring schedule, Miloš may have to rely on Koyunbaba for quite some time.
Filmed and edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Emily Bogle/NPR