• International classical guitarists performing in second series at the Varsity

    September 17, 2019
    The 2019-20 Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series has been scheduled at the Varsity. This is the second year for the series at the downtown performance venue. The Varsity and SI Classical Guitar are co-producers of the shows.

    The series is presented by First Southern Bank and is supported by additional sponsors who are helping bring these fine artists to Carbondale. These include Shawnee Healthcare, FSW Granite Countertops and private individuals. Supporting the series in other ways are the City of Carbondale, Carbondale Community Arts, Carbondale Tourism Bureau, WDBX Radio and WSIU Radio.

    The series mission is to bring an awareness of the broad capabilities of the classical guitar and its players to Southern Illinois; the plan is to expand the mission by presenting concerts by and for youngsters, as well as supplementing guitar ensemble programs for schools and clubs.

    The series opens Oct. 12 with Romanian/Canadian blind guitarist Ioana Gandrabur. On Nov. 16, Christopher Allen, whose undergraduate degrees are from SIU, takes the stage. On March 7, Hector Alonso Torres, who is from Puerto Rico, will perform multiple stringed instruments, including classical guitar, lute and Baroque guitar. Kirk Hanser, known throughout the world for his phenomenal interpretations of the guitar picking style of Chet Atkins, plays April 4.
    Performances take place in the Varsity’s Balcony, which is a perfect space to enjoy the sounds of the beautiful classical guitar, whether the artist is playing J. S. Bach or the Beatles. The intimate setting puts every patron close to the stage, giving everyone a chance to hear and feel the music in a unique way.

    All performances begin at 7 p.m., and doors open at 6:30. That’s also when the Varsity Bar opens, offering the sale of mixed drinks, wine, beer, soda and other non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks. Purchases go directly to support continued operations at the Varsity.

    Tickets for each performance are S14 in advance or $16 at the door for adults, $8 for students with ID; children 10 and younger are admitted at no charge. Adults who bring a children younger than 10 will get a ticket for $14 at the door. Season tickets are available for the first time this year, and pricing is $42.

    Tickets are available in advance at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com. Tickets are not available in advance at the venue but will be available when doors open on the night of each performance.

    For more information on each of this season’s guitarists, go to www.thevarsitycenter.org.
    The Varsity is downtown Carbondale at 418 S. Illinois Ave. To keep up with news and events, follow the Varsity at www.facebook.com/varsitycenter.
    Four phenomenal artists will perform at the Southern Illinois Classical Guitar Series at the Varsity beginning Oct. 12. For more information on the series, go to www.thevarsitycenter.org. Here is more on each artist:

    Ioana Gandrabur, Oct 12: Romanian/Canadian blind guitarist will play several of the most beautiful and most difficult of the classical guitar repertoire including those of J.S. Bach, Augustine Barrios Mangore and David Russell. Two of her pieces will be played in total darkness, giving the audience an insight into the world of Ioana and blindness. After her concert in Carbondale, she returns to Montreal, Canada, to prepare for a featured soloist spot with the Montreal Symphony. Oscar Ghiglia, the great Italian guitar master, says that Ioana plays with a sensitivity and style unmatched. All agree that she plays with a profoundness and clarity that is usually only found in the great sighted classical guitarists of our time.

    Christopher Allen, Nov. 16: Allen’s playing is described as “powerful but sublime, a step away from explosive, a power to be reckoned with.” Allen plays classical guitar, Flamenco guitar, medieval and Baroque lute, jazz guitar, country mandolin, and the Oud (an ancient Moorish pre-guitar). His undergraduate and master degrees are from SIU, where he studied under Joseph Breznikar. Allen founded and is president of the Madison Classical Guitar Society in Madison, Wisconsin, where he also teaches at Madison College and the Monroe Street Arts School.

    Hector Alonso Torres, March 7: Hailing from Puerto Rica and now completing his doctoral studies in performance guitar at the University of North Texas in Denton, Torres’ musical presentation is a complex mix of island rhythms, Spanish sounds and the contrapuntal music of the Baroque, of which he is a master interpreter. Multi-talented when it comes to the variety of guitar and guitar like instruments, Torres plays classical guitar, medieval lute and the amazing Theorbo, a lute-like instrument with a 5-foot-long fingerboard and five octaves. His program will explore the full range of the Baroque and classical guitar and lute interspersed into the program at various times.

    Kirk Hanser, April 4: Hanser is known for his classical solo concerts, his duet pieces as a part of the Hanser-McCellan Duo, and for his fingerstyle interpretations in the style and technique of Chet Atkins. Hanser will present a multimedia music and visual program that takes the listener around the world. The award-winning youth classical guitar ensemble, Bella Corda, instructed by Hanser, will perform the pre-show music. Hanser is the on-call guitarist for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the MUNY, and the St. Louis Opera and is on the faculty of several colleges and universities including the Paris Conservatory in Paris, France.