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Utah State guitars will perform at the Swaner EcoCenter

Corey Christiansen, director of guitar studies at Utah State University, is looking forward to bringing his students to perform at the Swaner EcoCenter on Sunday.

"That room is a very live room and works well with acoustic instruments," Christiansen said during an interview with The Park Record. "Last time when we brought the Electric Guitar Ensemble, I was a little worried about the volume and such, but it worked out great."

The concert, which will begin at 4 p.m., is free, but a $5 donation is suggested.

The concert will feature USU’s Electric Guitar Ensemble and bass instructor Josh Kinner.

"Josh and I will play half the concert and the students will play the other half," Christiansen said.

The Electric Guitar Ensemble plans to play three numbers.

"One of those pieces might be a world-premiere of this particular piece of music that was written for classical guitar ensemble," Christiansen said. "It’s a piece by Leo Brouwer called ‘Cuban Landscape with Rain’ and was originally written for four nylon-stringed guitars.

"We adapted it to electric guitar and have added sound effects and all kinds of cool stuff," he said. "It’s a fantastic work on any guitar, but we’re excited to play it electrically."

The rest of the concert will feature solo performances by the students, including the department’s premiere classical-guitar student, Nathan Hauck.

"He won the Utah State Concerto contest last year and we’re really pleased with him," Christiansen said. "We wanted to bring him down and wanted him to play because he’s a world-class collegiate player. This is his third year at Utah State and he’s taking this really serious. So we wanted to give him the opportunity to play for Park City."

Christiansen assigned most of the repertoire for the program.

"However, one of the pieces that they will play is an original work written by one of the members of the group," he said. "So in that case, I didn’t tell them how to play it. The student showed up with music and prepared parts for everyone. And to be honest, this is the most challenging piece that they have ever played."

That, alone, says something about the quality of the USU program.

"One thing I want to do is to give the students, especially in the ensembles, opportunities to learn and grow beyond the typical guitar-experience," Christiansen said. "Most kids will go to a program and play just repertoire and work on improvisation in jazz and all those things, but I do require that the students, at some point in the year, must write an original piece of music or arrange a piece of music for the group.

"That’s great for the students and it’s great for me as a teacher to see what they are up to because I’m learning from them as well," he said. "It’s also fantastic for the USU music library. Now we’ve got all of this music for guitar ensembles. In fact, after Park City we will play a concert with all the groups and that performance will feature music that was written by alumni who were at USU 10 years ago."

After the students perform, Christiansen and Kinner will take the stage.

"The stuff that Josh and I will play will be mostly jazz classics," Christiansen said.

Christiansen was named the official head of guitar studies at USU earlier this year, after running the program as an interim head last year.

"During my time as an interim head, I passed a graduate program in guitar performance, which has never existed at Utah State," he said. "That was a big thing because having graduate students here boosts the students’ playing and is a tremendous shot in the arm. We have close to 30 guitar majors right now."

Christiansen has other goals for the program in the future.

"I want to bring more national and international talent to Utah State, so that’s my focus now," he said.

The Utah State University Guitar Ensembles, led by Corey Christiansen, director of guitar studies, will perform at the Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr. at Kimball Junction, on Sunday, Nov. 2, from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The event is free, but a $5 donation is suggested. For more information, visit http://www.swanerecocenter.org.


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