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Spiritual guitarist coming to Rialto on U.S. tour

Estas Tonne performs in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 6. (Voice Art Group)

Guitar virtuoso Estas Tonne makes his way to Tucson on Dec. 9 to perform at the Rialto Theatre as part of his first U.S. tour, hot on the heels of a 10-city international tour.

Although Tonne has lived in America before, “The Breath of Sound” tour is his first big exposure to U.S. audiences.

“Life takes us to the place we need to be,” Tonne says. “It doesn’t matter that we are different, that is the point.”

He has noticed that some concertgoers have been taken aback by the format of his shows, because the songs aren’t separate pieces and stories aren’t told in between.

For Tonne, the music just flows out of him.

“I can only share what I am experiencing, what I am feeling,” Tonne says. “The music is an ongoing sound journey because life is ongoing.”

Although many might be familiar with Tonne’s “The Song of the Golden Dragon,” which has over 50 million views on YouTube, the music he performs on this tour is meant to be different on each stop.

“There is repetition of course, it is still me in this body,” Tonne says. “But the dynamic of storytelling is different, even when there is repetition there is freshness.”

Tonne was born in the Ukraine, which was still part of the Soviet Union at the time, and has German and Jewish ancestry.

He began playing guitar when he was 7 years old but stopped when he moved to Israel. When he was old enough, he joined the Israeli army but was eager to leave.

Even so, he doesn’t regret that time, because he believes it was part of the path he was meant to be on.

“If I didn’t stop then,  I probably wouldn’t play the way I play today,” Tonne says. “I am just giving thanks to all of this.”

In an internet video, Tonne talks about trying to buy drugs from a man in California, but the man refused to sell him any because he was touched by Tonne’s playing.

“Of course I had to go (the) hardcore way, because I needed to experiment,” Tonne says. “So there were lots of drugs and all other kinds of stuff involved.”

Today, Tonne no longer feels like he needs drugs to fill his soul; his music does that.

In the near future Tonne plans to write a book about his experiences.

“It is about time,” he says. “I’ve been writing for 17 years about this crazy trip I’m on.”

Right now his goal in the concert experience is to touch people’s lives in this intimate setting that is hard to duplicate.

“We all would love to live in a world that is more open and pure,” Tonne says. “So this ongoing musical journey is a purification.”

The Dec. 9 concert will begin at 7 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Doors open 6 p.m. For tickets, call 740-1000 or visit www.rialtotheatre.com or www.estastonne.com.

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