Music lovers escaped the evening rain and proceeded into Phillips Hall on Saturday, May 18, where they were serenaded by the densely layered melodies of the Santa Ana College Guitar Ensemble.
Despite a momentary blackout about halfway through the show, the ensemble — composed of student musicians of all ages and skill levels — powered through to perform a mix of classical guitar arrangements along with medleys from several popular films and TV shows.
“On the first day, I dumped a whole bunch of music on all these students. And one of the great things about this class, is we get students of all different skill levels performing together,” adjunct professor and ensemble director David Adele said.
The ensemble began the concert with two serene and atmospheric pieces, “Koudougou” by Luc Lévesque and “Tierra Mestiza” by Gerardo Tamez, that set a tranquil tone. Then, students split up into a series of exhilarating solos, duos, trios, quartets and smaller ensembles.
Guitarist Devan Jacobsen, one of the more skilled students with six years of experience playing the guitar and other classical instruments, played a solo of Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flower.”
After Jacobsen’s solo and during a full ensemble performance of the main theme from the 1993 film Rudy, the lights in the hall unexpectedly turned off. Some of the students continued playing in the dark, but moments later, both the performers and audience were laughing through the darkness, waiting for the lights to come back on.
After the lights came back on about 30 seconds later, the ensemble continued unfazed and music student Rowena Marquez took the stage with performance partner Bruno Calatroni to perform “Libertango” by classical Argentine guitar composer Astor Piazzolla. The duo’s playing serenaded the audience with the intense and hypnotizing sounds of tango and Spanish guitar.
Marquez said she has taken guitar lessons at other local community colleges before, and onstage she kept a stern composure as her fingers danced across the frets in a mesmerizing display.
For the closing number, the complete ensemble convened to perform a medley of songs from Games of Thrones and Star Wars, which ended the night in a more upbeat manner. It also built anticipation for the Game of Thrones series finale, which aired on TV the next night.
“It’s wonderful to collaborate with so many different personalities, ages and skill levels. It’s a lot of fun to build this recital throughout the semester,” Adele said.