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An eye-opening experience with the IUPUI Guitar Ensemble

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Taking the advice of Mr. Nick Selm, last night I decided to step outside my normal range of live music listening and check out something a little more toned down than the typical bar or club performance. Already on the IUPUI campus and dismissed early from my weekly Thursday evening class, I was able to stop at the IT building for The Department of Music and Arts Technology’s version of a final exam: The IUPUI Guitar Ensemble in concert.

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Although not necessarily comprised of more or less skill than a traditional rock’n’roll band, the talent on display during the concert was of a completely different breed than what I’ve grown accustomed to. It quickly became apparent that these students of classical guitar were showcasing the fundamental concepts and techniques that any serious instrumentalist should be trained in before attempting a career in music.

After just a few minutes of observation, I was simply in awe. Without a backing band, every single note was audible, every single change in tempo detectable, and all attention focused on the lone player. Removed from the bar atmosphere and placed inside a cozy auditorium, the lights were bright and the performers' facial expressions were clearly observable. As I listened to a pleasant hodgepodge of brief solos, duets, and trios, I discovered a new-found appreciation for classically trained musicians. Indeed, the hour-long concert was an eye-opening experience.

The IUPUI Guitar Ensemble (under the direction of John Alvarado) includes Brendon Riha, David James Berling, Deronne Gossage, Chris Mahurin, and Jack Meils- a handsome group of clean-cut and formally dressed young men. I noticed, however, that four of the five had long hair of varying lengths that suggested a rock star lie dormant within each of them. If not already a part of rock and jam band side projects, they surely will be in due time. Without a doubt, it is the musical education they have internalized at IUPUI that will fuel the success of said future bands.

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