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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    No weeping, only happy tears at guitar competition

    Courtney Talak

    Guitarist Graesyn Spiers performs “Fortune My Foe” by John Dowland at the 27th Annual Leonard and David Schaeffer Memorial Guitar Competition in Holsclaw Hall on Sunday.

    On Sunday, the Fred Fox School of Music held its 27th Annual Leonard and David Schaeffer Memorial Guitar Competition. With funding from the Leonard and David Schaeffer Memorial Endowment, the competition featured four exemplary undergraduate students performing solo guitar.

    The Fred Fox School of Music is world-renowned for its guitar program and just received a $2 million grant to benefit it.

    Tom Patterson, director of the guitar program, opened up the program. The goal of the competition, he said, was to encourage undergraduate students to play and participate in musical competitions traditionally reserved for more experienced students.

    “I can say without doubt that there are only two places in the United States that have two competitions that solely cater to undergraduates,” Patterson said, speaking to the strength of the program.

    The finalists competed for cash prizes: $800 for first place, $600 for second, $400 for third and $250 for fourth. The four students participating each presented about 30 minutes of a classical guitar composition by various composers. 

    In addition, there was a special encore performance by Jing Xia, a world-renowned visiting scholar from China who played the guzheng, a stringed traditional Chinese instrument that resembles a cross between an American guitar and a piano.

    Ignacio Mondaca, 18, from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, won first place for his performance of “Three Spanish Pieces: Fandango, Passacaglia, and Zapateado” by Joaquín Rodrigo. The three were fast-paced, rhythmic pieces that showcased Mondaca’s talent for rapid music. Mondaca received enthusiastic cheers from the audience. Although his music was complex, Mondaca seemed relaxed during his performance, nodding his head to the rhythm of the music.

    Joshua Taylor, a chemical engineering sophomore, said Mondaca was his favorite performer. “It was killer,” Taylor said. “Him hitting the rhythm with all the intricate notes was just amazing.” 

    Matthew Hart, a mechanical engineering senior, agreed. Hart said he came to the competition to check out the renowned music program.

    The other performers also delivered high-quality performances. Sam Fernandez, from Phoenix, won second place for his moving “Les Soirees d’Auteuil” by Napoleon Coste and “Otro Tango, Buenos Aires” by Jorge Morel. Fernandez started out with medium tempo for his first piece. His shining moment was his moving, slow rendition of Morel’s composition, which received a strong reaction from the audience.

    Third place was given to Noah Weig-Pickering from Albuquerque, N.M. Weig-Pickering, 18, performed a soulful rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Sarabande” and “Tempo di Bourrée” from “Violin Partita No. 1 in B minor,” as well as “Fantasia sobre Temas de ‘La Traviata’” by Francisco Tárrega.

    Stepping out in pantaloons, knee-high purple socks and a blue sarong-like scarf to hold his guitar was Graesyn Spiers from Tucson, who won fourth place. Spiers performed four pieces: “Fortune My Foe” by John Dowland, “Prelude from Lute Suite No. 2 in C Minor” by Bach, No. 2 from “Douze Etudes” by Heitor Villa-Lobos and “Sonata No. 1, Op. 7” by Ferdinando Carulli. 

    Spiers’ performance featured medium-tempo pieces that showcased thematic repetitions.

    Closing the performance, Jing Xia performed an expertly crafted rendition of “Yi Dance.” Getting a standing ovation from a cheering crowd, Xia performed a traditional song that transitioned seamlessly into rock with classical Chinese overtones.

    Blanca Garcia, an audience member, said she came “because [her] grandson [Mondaca] was a finalist in the show.”

    The performance brought together classical guitar students of all different styles and nationalities, and showcased their talents and individuality in an exquisite, two-hour performance. The annual competition was certainly not one to be overlooked.


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