The Keene State College (KSC) Guitar Orchestra held its spring performance at the Redfern Arts Center.
The ensemble was directed by professor of music Ted Mann, who was filling in for Dr. Jose Lezcano while he is on sabbatical. Mann, an alumnus of KSC, has been working with the Guitar Orchestra for some time now.
“[I’ve been working with the Guitar Orchestra] off and on for 35 years…through the years, if I’m not conducting, I’ll play in it. But Dr. Lezcano has been the usual conductor since he’s been here,” Mann said.
In creating the program for the concert, Mann said he wanted to select pieces that wouldn’t be too advanced for first and second-year guitarists just starting in the music department, while still giving everyone a challenge.
“I had some advanced players, and I had some freshmen… you have to figure out parts for people that are going to be able to be successful… but you also don’t want them to be bored, so there has to be a certain challenge for everybody,” Mann said.
The concert included a range of pieces spanning from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Mann said that when selecting the pieces the ensemble will perform, he likes to include music from a wide variety of time periods.
“I like to do a program that’s wide-ranging from early music to more modern music… a lot of people don’t listen to early music but a lot of it is really fun, especially the more popular stuff… I think people are surprised by what it sounds like,” Mann said.
Included in the program were pieces by well-known composers like George Frederick Handel and Enrique Granados, as well as some less widely recognized names. There was also a Celtic piece which was arranged by the members of the Guitar Orchestra.
Mann described the process of arranging the piece with the ensemble, “We did chords, and who’s playing what where… there were little counter-melody parts added to it. I let them work it out like a band would, and they came up with a bunch of stuff, which is awesome.”
The concert also included a solo performance by senior music performance major Alyssa Becker. Becker performed songs by Fernando Sor and Franz Schubert, singing and accompanying herself on guitar.
After a musical journey starting with popular dance pieces from the Renaissance, the concert concluded with its most modern piece, a calypso from the 20th century.
Along with its concerts in the fall and spring semesters, the Guitar Orchestra performs at annual concerts and festivals, as well as for local groups, churches and schools in Southern New Hampshire. Auditions to join the Guitar Orchestra are open to KSC students, faculty and members of the wider Keene community.
Gabe Schatz can be contacted at