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SOU Guitar Ensemble promises quick-paced show

New arrangements of music from Nintendo's "The Legend of Zelda," as well as tunes by the Beatles and Johann Sebastian Bach, will highlight a concert by Southern Oregon University's Guitar Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 21, in the Music Recital Hall on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

"We keep it (the concert) entertaining, and we keep it moving," says James Edwards, guitar instructor and director of guitar studies at SOU. "We perform music from the classical repertoire, but we also like to throw in folk and Irish music to keep things interesting."

Students from Edwards' classical guitar program at SOU — Tye Austin Hoseclaw, Michael Gellings, Austin Kasner, Michael Salvestrin, Zachary Reutlinger, John Johns, Tyrell Trimble, Eric Hill, Nolan Robbins and SOU alumnus David Kelley — will perform as an ensemble and as soloists, duos and trios during the show.

"When all eight play together, it's a wonderful sound," Edwards says. "You can do a lot more on eight guitars than you can on one. The sound is fuller and richer. It's like a small orchestra."

The guitar group will open the show with a traditional Irish tune, "Give Me Your Hands," and close the evening with the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby."

"Actias Luna," a new piece written by Reutlinger and played with Kasner and Gellings, will premiere at the show. There also will be compositions by some of the students, and Hoseclaw and violinist Aaron Moffatt will perform duos. The new arrangements of music from "The Legend of Zelda" are by Kelley.

"Chaconne," a Baroque piece by German composer Sylvius Weiss, also will be presented.

"Weiss was a contemporary of Bach's," Edwards says. "He was a famous lute player during the early 18th century and an important composer of the Baroque era.

"The guitar has evolved over the years," Edwards says. "The 18th-century lute is nothing like a modern guitar. Playing Bach on a modern guitar is a much different experience."

Opportunities to play 18th-century instruments are available to Edwards through the Schumann Collection of Musical Instruments, housed at SOU.

"It's a unique collection," Edwards says. "It's fortuitous for me because of my interest in music and instruments from the Baroque era."

Edwards mixes things up for his students, inviting such artists as flamenco guitarist Grant Ruiz, jazz guitarist Bil Leonhart and Portland's Oregon Guitar Quartet to perform with his students.

"But classical is my area of expertise," he says.

Admission to the May 21 show is $5, free for students. Tickets are available by calling 541-552-6101 or at the music hall's box office. The box office opens one hour before shows. See www.sou.edu/music for information.