By: Rebecca Juntunen
Under the spotlights of the Ashmore Auditorium stage, the nine talented individuals that make up the PSC Classical Guitar Orchestra celebrated both their progress from the past year, and the life of a former orchestra member.
The annual spring guitar recital was held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, showcasing the hard work of a group that consists of students ranging from freshman to juniors this year.
Their four varieties of guitars echoed diversity; the entire orchestra opened the evening with a three-movement piece by Antonio Vivaldi, and concluded it with “Fields of Gold” and “Every Breathe You Take” by the English rock musician Sting.
In between, four orchestra members— Beau Buck, Megan Juntunen, Ryan Etheredge and Joanna Johnson— took the stage alone and played selected solo pieces.
Audience member Bob Ludlum expressed that “a frustrated old guitar student”, comes up from Panama City every year for the spring recital, and attends with his daughter Robin, who is a PSC instructor on the Warrington campus.
Ludlum enjoyed the performances, especially the soloists.
“I enjoyed the solo players, since I know how much they do, and the Vivaldi piece,” he explained.
Freshman Joanna Johnson, one of the soloists, played in the orchestra for the first time this semester.
She described that her time in the orchestra has taught her that “no matter what… to relax, and remain composed… no pun intended,” she added, with a smile.
The concert also showed great improvement in the group as a whole.
Dr. Joe Stallings, the director of the orchestra and a PSC classical guitar professor, said that their greatest improvement was their rhythmic sophistication, especially in a difficult piece they performed that evening: the Austin Tango, by Roland Dyens.
In Stallings’ words, the piece is “the most fun, but difficult. It has lots of character and rhythmic challenge, and is fun to play.”
After receiving an encore at the end of the evening, the orchestra played this intricate, suspenseful piece again.
Stallings commented on it, “We came a long way on that piece, and were able to play rhythmically. The orchestra is a group who strives to sound like one performer; I think they did that tonight.”
But showcasing the orchestra’s talent wasn’t the only aim of the concert.
The evening was also dedicated to the late Jeremy Snell, a former member of the guitar orchestra, who died on March 8 of this year, after a long battle with cancer.
Snell played in the orchestra from 2008 to 2011, starting in a beginning guitar class, and then becoming a guitar major.
“He was a hard worker, talented, and excelled quickly,” Stallings described.
During the short reception that followed the concert, attendees could view a picture board that commemorated Snell during his time in the orchestra.
Commenting on the success of the evening, Johnson said, “I think we’ve done better, but we held it together.”
Stallings was pleased with the concert, affirming that, “I thought everyone did really well. We got a standing ovation and an encore; I can’t complain.”
The spring 2015 guitar recital is scheduled to be held on March 21, 2015.