Students learn and perform at annual guitar festival

Madina Seytmuradova

Staff Writer

The fifth annual guitar festival brought performers of every skill level to compete and collaborate at the Troy campus on Friday, Feb. 16.

“It’s world-class guitarists at Troy; I mean, there’s no other way to put it,” said Thomas Maudlin, a senior chemistry major from Childersburg. “Dragos — his concert was fantastic.”

Participating guitar students from several elementary, middle and high schools attended two master classes with Troy students and guest artists. According to Robert Gibson, a lecturer of guitar and the director of the guitar festival, students got a chance to write a piece for the festival’s ensemble performance.

“We had fun working with an elementary school group,” Gibson said.  “In that group, we talked about improvisation, and we wrote a song, and we performed it at the concert there.”

For Troy student-mentors, working with younger counterparts had its merits and drawbacks.

“Cons: some of the kids are better than you,” said Jacob Holsonback, a freshman music industry major from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “Pros are you get to hang out with some cool kids, play some cool music.”

Dallace Welk, a senior music industry major from Dothan, said he started off as a graphic designer for the event but gradually became involved in logistics. His favorite event was the performance by Luther Enloe because of its flow.

A Hill Guitar Company Signature Artist, Enloe performed pieces by John Lennon, Maximo Diego Pujol and Stuart Webber at the Sorrell Chapel.

The festival also included competitions for performers of different levels, including the collegiate competition, which brought eight students from bordering states to campus.

The winner of last year’s competition, Dragos Ilie, a 21-year-old Romanian guitarist and a student of Columbus State University, followed Luther’s performance in the chapel with Nikita Koshkin’s “Prelude,” J.K. Mertz’s “Elegy,” Manuel Ponce’s “Theme Varie et Finale” and Nuccio D’Angelo’s “Due Canzoni Lidie.”

According to Ilie, the year following his victory has changed him a lot.

“When I got here (last year) … I used to have a huge performance anxiety,” Ilie said, “and now I get here, and I’m the guy who’s performing. . . I have to judge, and it doesn’t feel the same.”

This year’s winner, Christopher Mrofchak, an FSU student, was invited to come back to the next year’s guitar festival to perform, teach and judge.

In culmination of the twelve-hour gala, students, judges and performers attended a concert of Kithara Duo, an award-winning pair of guitarists and faculty members at Collin College in Plano, Texas. Fernand Vera, one of the two guitarists, said it was inspiring for younger generations to see more experienced artists play.

“As students we’d always learn from these events,” Vera said. “You get inspired, and it kinda keeps you practicing; it gives you the fuel to keep going.”

Olga Amelkina-Vera, the other half of Kithara Duo, added that for them, it is a pleasure to perform.

“Every one (performance) is different,” she said. “You never quite know what’s gonna work, what’s not. You kinda respond to it spontaneously.”

The couple played several arranged compositions of Antonio Soler, Gioacchino Rossini and Manuel de Falla as well as Radames Gnatalli’s “Suite Retratos.”

“Each part is actually a portrait of a famous Brazilian composer, so each movement is named after a different Brazilian composer,” Amelkina-Vera said. “In each one of these movements he actually chooses a different predecessor and kind of does a take on it.”

According to Gibson, the festival is a celebration of one of the most versatile instruments which encourages students to pursue their passion.

“Younger people get to hear what they could possibly sound like if they practiced, get to hear great music played by some fantastic older players, more experience, and they learn from that,” he said.

He added that people being able to work with “younger folks” and share their wisdom is important.

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