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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Guitarists gather at Aggie symposium

Photo by Provided
The fifth edition of the Texas A&M Guitar Symposium welcomes classical guitarists of national and international renown.

Texas A&M welcomes performers, educators, competitors and the general public to take part in the fifth edition of its classical guitar symposium.
The biennial Texas A&M Guitar Symposium and Competition will take place Sept. 28-30, with concerts at St. Thomas Episcopal Church starting at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The closing concert will be held in Rudder Theater at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The symposium will have free public master classes, performances and lectures at the Liberal Arts and Humanities building before and in-between the concerts. Sunday at 10 a.m., the final round of the professional division of the Nancy L. Cooke Memorial Professional Competition will take place at the J. Wayne Stark Gallery in the Memorial Student Center.
Since it began in 2010, the symposium has grown significantly, attracting international artists and giving the university exposure within the classical guitar community, according to symposium director and instructional assistant professor of music Isaac Bustos.
“2010 had three artists and 10 participants,” Bustos said. “[Now] there are over 30 competitors and 14 artists that are at the top of their field. It’s an important music event in the state of Texas. It has put Texas A&M on a national and international platform.”
Performance studies graduate students Hector Aguilar and Elvis Bendaña Rivas will both be competing, presenting events in the Liberal Arts building and working to make sure things run smoothly during the symposium.
On Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Aguilar will help facilitate a panel discussion titled “Women and the Guitar.” The panel includes guitarists and symposium performers Gohar Vardanyan, Lily Afshar and Olga Amelkina-Vera.
“We want to see if, because they are women, they’ve had any type of challenges,” Aguilar said. “My goal is to see if they have felt any type of special attention just because they’re women…  and if they feel like the guitar community has progressed in terms of successful women in the field.”
Bendaña will be in charge of Sunday’s “Talking Composers” performance at 2 p.m. The concert is arranged as a museum tour and invites the audience to interact with guitarists who will be taking on the persona of famous composers.
“It’s is a new way of presenting classical music,” Bendaña said. “We’re going to have two rooms in the Liberal Arts building. … Each of them will be set with a different stage. Room 120 will be about Latin American music, so we’re going to create an Argentinian cafe and the Black Box Theater will be staged like the Alhambra, which is a Moorish palace in Granada, Spain.”
Bendaña also said the competition is a benchmark for his personal growth as a guitarist.
“When you do competitions, you practice more and you improve your playing and musicianship,” Bendaña said. “I need to present a really good product. The way I see the competition, [it’s] a way to improve myself rather than compete with other people.”
According Bustos, the symposium provides an enriching experience by exposing the attendees to international music.
“I feel events like these enhance our community,” Bustos said. “We bring artists from all over the world. When you say ‘classical guitar,’ it’s a broad genre. … When you listen to international music, you open your mind.”
Tickets can be purchased at the MSC Box Office for $20 to $25, with a $10 discount for students and senior citizens.

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