Guest performers’ master classes open Guitar Fest

Matthew Denman performed a solo concert for the opening of Guitar Fest in Pottle Hall Auditorium. He performed a mix of traditional classical songs and songs of his own composition.
Annie Goodman/The Lion’s Roar

The Guitar Festival is a musical tradition that has been held for 18 years showcasing classical guitar.

“Guitar Fest is what we do every year,” said Instructor of Guitar Patrick Kerber.. “It’s just an opportunity for the community and the students to experience guitar at a level that ordinarily we don’t. The classical guitar is the most refined way of playing music on the guitar. The guitar is one of the most popular instruments in our culture, but mostly it’s seen as a pop instrument. Very few people know that we can actually sit down with this box with two strings and do something like what you heard tonight.” 

To start the festivities, a guest performer from Oklahoma performed a solo concert.




“I was very happy with most of it. It was a very nice hall,” said Matthew Denman, guest performer at Guitar Fest. “Well, I wanted to start with traditional repertoire because I think that’s what most people want to hear when they come to a classical guitar concert. Then I’m kind of in a luxurious position where I get to program the pieces that I write. So, I like to sneak those in and hopefully people will enjoy it.”

Denman writes his music from everyday inspirations.

“I often have things like my home and Oklahoma and my family,” said Denman. “My father is where the spiritual tunes come from. He was a minister. ‘Blood Moon’ is about an evening with my family where we were watching the moon change colors and the fireflies came out, and there’s a section of the piece called ‘Dance of the Fireflies.’ So, it’s very much based on moments in time.”

Guitar Festival is a month long event that presents performances once a week.

Kerber explains that one of the main goals of Guitar Fest is to bring different teachers to show students different musical perspectives.

“It’s something that we do every year. I’ll play a recital next week. Then, the following week we’ll have the all styles night where the kids get to let their hair down and play whatever they want. Local artists will come and play as well. Then finally, the guitar ensemble, which we’ll have towards the end. That’s where every semester all the students get together on stage and play.”

While at the university, Denman also taught a masterclass for guitar students.

“It was very good,” said Denman. “The students are very talented here, and professor Kerber is doing an excellent job. There’s lots of diversity, lots of great musical things happening. It was very exciting to be a part of it.”

Though Denman has traveled to various places to perform, this was his first visit to Louisiana.

“Oh, I love it,” said Denman. “It’s so interesting. I’ve never seen a real swamp before. So, it’s neat seeing all of the wildlife, and it’s such an amazing ecosystem. The people seem incredible.”

Kerber feels Guitar Festival is about showcasing classical guitar to the Hammond area.

“Basically, just to bring to the campus, to the students, to the community guitar at its highest form. That’s really what it’s all about,” said Kerber.