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Guitar Studio recital an expose of complexity, minimalism, grief and hope

Kehinde Hopkins
Students from International Leadership of Texas Keller-Saginaw High School perform ‘Graziella’ and ‘The Girl from Ipanema’.

The Wesleyan Music Department’s latest guitar studio recital was an emotional foray into grief, sadness and the hope that lies beyond. Adorned in all black, five guitarists, including the director Dr. Kevin Manderville, commenced the concert with “Fiesta Mediterranea.”  Somber tones invoking ponderous gloom set the stage for what would be a melancholic affair.  

First-year music major Alexis Ayuhon continued the sorrowful tone of the recital through his subsequent solo.  Intimate strums lulled the listeners into a depressive malaise, simultaneously consoling them through warm undertones. Despite being a solo performance, Ayuhon effortlessly encapsulated the intricacies of human emotion through his rendition of “Aire Istmeno.”  

Next, sSenior music major Quinton Greschuck inspired hope amidst the hardships which the previous performances conveyed. Light and airy chords denoted a bright morning following a bleak night. A hopeful spring redeeming an unforgiving winter and a soothing interlude that prepared the audience for the emotional climax to follow. 

Junior music major Jacob Johnson prefaced his solo with the heartache that inspired it. Johnson’s original plan to play a lively Mozart piece shifted when he got the news of the death of one of his mentors, days before the concert. Instead, the guitarist chose to commemorate his lost loved one through an impassioned performance of “Prelude and Sarabande.” 

Following a moment of silence, Johonson began the emotional centerpiece of the entire recital. Johnson’s gripping tones celebrated life and honored death in equal measure. Pensive plucks explored grief and its painstaking complexity.  

Quinton Grescuk, Jacob Johnson, Alexas Ayuhon and Guadalupe Flores perform ‘El Ultimo Minuto’ by Eddie Healy. (Kehinde Hopkins)

 “It hurts to lose a friend and mentor like that,” Johnson said after the recital. “But to be able to celebrate the things that he taught me by bringing that music to the stage tonight, that felt really good.” 

Playing on a guitar from the 1830s, Johnson’s choice of instrument exemplified the relative mortality of humanity while simultaneously highlighting the enduring longevity of the art we create and the legacies we leave behind. 

“To be able to express your grief in a healthy way, I think that’s kind of nice,” Johnson said. “To bring beauty in the world where something ugly is happening.” 

Asking for the audience to hold their applause out of respect to his deceased mentor, an ominous final chord reverberated in an applause-less void upon the conclusion of his rousing performance. 

Following Johnson, students from Keller-Saginaw High School and directed by Marcua Kester provided the most cheerful tunes of the entire night. Their takes on “Graziella” and “The Girl from Ipanema” proved to be adventurous renditions that lightened the mood while maintaining the solemn aura of the recital as a whole.  

The concert concluded with a performance of “El Ultimo Minuto” from the Wesleyan guitar studio and lastly, “Gymnopedie No. 1” with the joint efforts of the Wesleyan guitar studio and Keller-Saginaw High School.  

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About the Contributor
Kehinde Hopkins, Content Producer
Kehinde Hopkins is a freshman English and Mass Communication major at Texas Wesleyan University. Born and raised in Dallas, Kehinde is also a player on the Texas Wesleyan Men's Soccer Team. Deeply fascinated by the boundless gift that is writing, working for the Rambler has afforded him a platform to exercise such. After graduating, he hopes to become a music journalist to further explore his relationship with writing.

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