Alumni returns for annual Guitar Festival

Guitars filled the stage, working as a unit to perform a melody of sounds.  The 15th annual guitar festival ended Monday, April 14 as Southeastern’s Guitar Ensemble took the stage along with guest artists Constanta Lungu on violin and Hristo Balev on guitar.

The guitar festival began in 1999 to promote classical guitar.  This year’s festival consisted of four units beginning with a flamenco guitar performance and ending with the guitar ensemble. Director of the ensemble, Patrick Kerber, coordinated the events of this year’s festival and has been a part of the guitar festival its origins.

It was a really, really good festival. It was very varied, which was one of the goals,” said Kerber. “Tonight’s concert was excellent.  It was a smaller group and they all stepped up. We usually have about fifteen. We had a smaller group of 10 this time, but they all really pulled together. I was very proud of them.”

Balev graduated from Southeastern last semester and served as one of the guest artists alongside current student Lungu, a violinist.  The two played together many times while Balev was still in school.

“They’ve played together a number of times while he was still here at school so they have a friendship on stage,” said Kerber.

Balev used to be a part of the Southeastern Guitar Ensemble and decided to come back to play. Balev not only took part in playing multiple songs with Lungu, but also participated in all of the ensemble songs.

“It was great to have someone to come and say, ‘Gee, I just want to play. Can I play?’ And then just show up and do it,” said Kerber.

Balev, who is currently teaching guitar lessons in Hammond, missed playing at Southeastern and wanted to play just for fun without the added pressure of playing while in school.

“I was missing playing so I decided to come back and have some more fun,” said Balev. “I enjoy playing with the ensemble and I enjoy being on stage. It was great.  I really enjoyed it, I think everyone did.”

Kerber taught Balev while he was in school.  According to Balev, he learned a lot from Kerber.

“He’s my best teacher I’ve ever taken,” said Balev. “There isn’t any better than him.”

The Ensemble played pieces including “Allegro moderato” by Antonio Vivaldi and “Zambra” by Joaquin TurinaLungu and Balev also played pieces including “Centone di Sonata” by Nicolo Paganini and “Libertango” by Astor Piazolla.

The three girls in the ensemble, Brandi Callais, Shannon Guitreau and Elizabeth Ma, took the stage alone at one point to perform two pieces.  Ensemble members Dustin Dawson, Blake Guidry, West Lentz and Amon Straughter did the same creating a quartet and performing two pieces.

“I was really impressed,” said Meagan Riggs, a Hammond local who came to support her boyfriend Dustin Dawson. “They were all together and made it sound very cohesive, which doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do as far as guitar goes.”

The Southeastern Guitar Festival was held by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts and sponsored by SGA, the Southeastern Guitar Club and Dr. Ted’s Musician’s Center. For more information on performances put on through the Department of Fine and Performing Arts contact them at 985-549-2184.