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Valley alumni displayed their guitar skills

In the second to last free concert of the semester, guitar solos were performed by Valley alumni.

By Natalie Metcalf, Staff Writer

Guitarist Santiago Vasquez is a Valley College Applied Music alum. When asked about the difference between the guitars, Vasquez said this was the one he felt he could fly with. The other more technical guitar was for classical music. (The Valley Star / Jose Callejas)
Guitarist Ryan Remington strums his guitar in the Music Recital Hall. Remington is a Valley College Applied Music alum. He was elated to be back on campus to share his music as part of the Wednesday free concert series on May 18, 2022. (The Valley Star / Jose Callejas)

Ryan Remington and Santiago Vasquez’s nimble fingers strummed the acoustic guitar at one of Valley College’s free music recitals.

The second to last performance brought in around 20 students to recital hall M106 on Wednesday, May 18. The stage was empty, except for a chair, the guitar and the musicians. After each set, students could ask the guitarists questions about their career and experience in the Applied Music Program.

“This song is just a reminder that we live in a beautiful place,” said Remington, in reference to performing “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. “Especially in my personal life whenever I’m not feeling very good, I just like to remind myself that it’s a wonderful world.”

Remington took the stage, playing an original song from a movie he composed the music for, called “The Private Eye.” The song –– “Love Theme” –– was specifically written for the movie and contained a mix of classical and upbeat notes. Remington also played “Etude in A” by Mateo Carcassi, “Snowflight” by Andrew York and “Op. 111, Parte 2” by Giulani.

Valley’s Applied Music Student Program was created over 20 years ago. The program is designed to provide students with an associate's degree in music in order to transfer to other colleges and universities. Music Department Chair Christian Nova is the coordinator of the applied program. Students have to audition and if accepted will receive weekly one-hour private lessons paid for by the school.

The former Valley student is a composer and multi-instrumentalist. He started playing guitar in middle school after seeing his cousin play. Remington explained that he taught himself to play while watching old tapes of Jimmy Hendrix at Woodstock when he was younger.

The second half of the performance was dedicated to Vasquez, as he played between two acoustic guitars. Vasquez’s set contained “Sonata in A Major (L483/K322)” from “Domenico Scarlatti (1685-2757)” arranged by Jeffery McFadden, “Sagitario (Vals)” by Rafael Olmedo and “Malaguena” by Ernesto Lecuona. The musician described how the two guitars differed in sound; one is used for percussion arrangements, while the other is used for classical music.

“This is the first guitar I bought when I came to Valley College,” said Vasquez, in reference to the first guitar used in the performance. “With this one, I feel like I can fly and I can do everything.”

Vasquez practices anytime he can work music into his schedule. When the guitarist first arrived at Valley to improve his English, he also joined the applied program to practice his technique. Coming from El Salvador, Vasquez studied under Luis Lopez and Rene Duran. He was a music student at Escuela de Musica David Granadino and a former member of La Orquesta de Guitarras del Sistema de Coros y Orquestas –– in El Salvador.

Next Wednesday, future Monarch graduates of the applied program will be performing alongside Valley faculty members. The last concert of the semester will be on May 25 at 1:30 pm.

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