By Bailey Blaker
Rosse Hall often showcases classical concerts, but the guitar is rarely included in such ensembles. However, on Saturday, Nov. 8, the Warner Concert Series presented classical guitarist Gohar Vardanyan in Rosse Hall. While there were many Gambier community members in attendance, only a small group of Kenyon students showed. Despite the intimate crowd, those present for the concert were in for a remarkable experience.
Vardanyan has been playing the guitar since she was only five years old, and her high level of dedication and technical skills on guitar show during each piece. The first piece she performed was Manuel Maria Ponce’s Suite in A minor. She executed the collection of five movements with artful mastery and creative flair. The first movements within the suite were light, airy and full of warmth. The theme continued with the last two movements, Gavotte I and Gavotte II; Gigue. These last parts of the piece were full of motion and a sense of fluidity.
The next piece Vardanyan performed was Un sueño en la floresta by Agustín Barrios Mangore. Afterwards, Vardanyan explained the technical aspects of the song itself. “The song has a note most guitars don’t have,” she said, referring to the high C. “I just recently got an instrument that can play the piece as Mangore had originally intended.” Vardanyan’s rendition was elegant and full of life.
Vardanyan is influenced heavily by Latin music and composers. This was made evident by the next two songs she selected for the concert, Isaac Albeniz’s Cordoba from Cantos de España and his Sevilla from Suite Española. Performing these two songs as a series, Vardanyan awed the crowd with her sheer talent and skill. The exuberant style of these two songs worked to end the first portion of the concert on an energetic note.
After intermission, Vardanyan treated the audience to Julian Arcas’s Fantasia para guitarra. This piece, based on themes from the opera La traviata, brought forth not only Vardanyan’s mastery of the guitar, but also her sense of humor. Before starting the Fantasia, Vardanyan made a quip about the famous opera that the song is based on: “The good thing is that this isn’t three hours long.”
Joaquin Rodrigo’s Invocacion y Danza is Vardanyan’s favorite piece to perform on guitar. The song tells the story of a young woman haunted by the ghost of a former lover and her attempt to appease his lonely spirit. “It was really eerie, but in a beautiful way,” Amy Schatz ’17 said. There was certainly a sense of the melancholic and haunted within the songs’ minor chords and dissonant tones.
Vardanyan closed the concert with a pairing of Manuel de Falla’s Chanson du feu follet from El amor brujo and Danza No. 1 from La vida breve alongside Astor Piazzolla’s Primavera porteña. These three songs worked together to bring the concert to an uplifting and resonant end. The concert as a whole was, according to Reagan Neviska ’17, “an amazing, awe-inspiring performance.” A guitar player herself, Neviska was impressed by the technical control that Vardanyan exhibited with each of her musical selections.
Vardanyan’s performance was one of many events that Kenyon’s music department sponsored this semester. The next event, an opera workshop performance, will be held held in Brandi Recital Hall on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.