Cameron University Guitar Ensemble to present “Best of Baroque”

When the Cameron University Guitar Ensemble takes the stage on Thursday, October 12, guitarists Trevor Campbell, Hannah Esquer and Samuel Phillips will perform a repertoire of some of the best Baroque music ever performed. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. in the McCutcheon Recital Hall. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students/senior citizens/military. Cameron University faculty, staff and students are admitted at no charge with CU I.D. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

“This will be an evening of relaxing music,” says Dr. Kirsten Underwood, director of the Cameron University Guitar Ensemble. “In addition to beautiful Baroque compositions, including melodies by Pachelbel and Bach that have become famous in popular culture, the guitarists will perform one piece from the Romantic era, the always familiar Brahms’ ‘Lullaby.’”

The concert will kick off with the “Air” from J.S. Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 3, BWV 1068.”

“This particular melody has been arranged for many instrumental combinations on New Age recordings,” Underwood says. “I think the audience will find the guitar arrangement equally satisfying.”

Campbell, a music major with a concentration in instrumental performance from Lawton, will be featured on Handel’s “Chaconne, NWV 485,” which offers variations on a repeated harmonic progression and features much decoration and figuration in the first guitar part. He says it is the most challenging “because there are many runs that I must match with the runs of the other parts. One of the biggest challenges of performing with a group is having to listen and be able to follow the other players. When first learning a piece, it is very important to study the score of a piece as well as your own part to see how it relates to the other parts.”

The repertoire also contains an air by Henry Holcombe, a vocalist in London who was a teacher of singing and harpsichord and who published two collections of songs and cantatas and a set of violin sonatas.

“This air, arranged by Kevin Krantz for guitars, is hauntingly beautiful,” Underwood says.

The ensemble will then perform two movements from Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in D, which was written for solo guitar and string orchestra and which has been arranged by Kevin Love for guitar ensemble. The Largo is a contemplative tune, and features Phillips, a music major with a concentration in composition from Sallisaw, on the first guitar part.  The following Allegro is bright and energetic. Esquer, a Lawton music major with a concentration in instrumental performance, will be featured on the first guitar part.

“This has been a selection that the ensemble members particularly enjoy playing,” says Underwood.

The ensemble will take a break from the Baroque with Brahms’ “Walzer No. 15, Op. 39,” known colloquially as Brahms’ Lullaby. Phillips says he looks forward to performing the piece “because of its simple beauty.”

Following will be a set of dances by Gaspar Sanz which change tempo and character throughout and end with the most well-known, “Canarios.” 

“Sanz’ volumes of pedagogical works for Baroque guitar are an important part of the repertoire of today’s classical guitar student,” Underwood explains.

The concert will end with Johann Pachelbel’s famous “Canon in D,” a familiar work that is often heard at weddings and grand receptions.

“It is by far the favorite piece among members of the ensemble, who find new insights into their playing of its nuances at every rehearsal,” Underwood says.

Esquer relates that the “Canon in D” is the most challenging piece in the set. It’s also the one that she is most looking forward to. “It has always been one of my favorite works, and I’m excited to be playing it this year,” she says.

Phillips agrees that it is the most challenging. He also finds a challenge in playing in an ensemble, explaining that individual performers “have to play together as one musical entity so as not to sound like three separate people playing at the same time.”

Esquer echoes that thought. “Like any other group, it’s always difficult to figure each other out at first,” she says. “We had to listen and figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses so we can play as connected as possible. Since this is our fourth semester playing together as a group, we’ve come a long way in doing that.”

The three guitarists are united not only during a performance, but in their passion for their chosen instrument.

 “Guitar is one of the few things that can take my full attention for a given period of time and serve as a kind of meditation almost,” Phillips says.

Esquer, who got her first guitar when she was 3 years old, says, “I feel that music is a way to let out your emotions and tell a story. Guitar has always been a part of my life and I wouldn’t change that for anything.”

Campbell expresses it in a different way. “What drew me to the guitar at an early age were the array of musical possibilities you can achieve with the instrument.”

He, Phillips and Esquer will demonstrate some of those possibilities when they take the stage.


October 5, 2017