Petar Kodzas Presents (May 14, 2007)

On Monday, May 14, Guitar Club members and guests were treated to an entertaining and informative presentation by Petar Kodzas who teaches at the Eastman Community Music School. Petar was joined by Tim Shannon, guitar instructor from Roberts Wesleyan College and Zac Kuvizic on accordion.


Guitarist Petar Kodzas with accordionist Zac Kuvizic

The variety of styles and techniques was a striking feature of this presentation. During the evening we heard music played on one, two and even seven guitars as well as accordion and guitar. Different types of guitars were used including classical and acoustic. One guitarist retuned the “G” string to “F#” to emulate Renaissance lute tuning. Another adventurous player treated us to jazz variations on an electric seven-string guitar and even invited the audience to try out the instrument, but there were no takers! He explained how the addition of one string changes the whole concept of playing.

One of the themes of Petar’s presentation was the relationship between classical and folk music. Many classical pieces have been written based on folk melodies. An interesting example of this are the songs composed by Turlough O’Carolan, a seventeenth/eighteenth century, blind itinerant Irish harpist and composer. O’Carolan’s music was heavily influenced by Vivaldi and other composers of his time, particularly the Italians, but at the same time was deeply rooted in Irish folk music. Petar and Tim played duets based on O’Carolan’s songs including ‘O’Carolan’s Concerto’ and the haunting ‘Farewell to Music’ written on his deathbed as legend has it. We did not know the origin of this song until after they finished playing, and we had some difficulty pinpointing the country of origin.


Dr. Kodzas then went into some detail explaining how to take a simple, familiar eight-bar melody and transform it into an interesting performance by adding an introduction and an ending while also embellishing the melody with chords, arpeggios, counterpoint, and bass lines. The examples used were “The House Carpenter” arranged for flute and guitar by Robert Beaser and “The Water is Wide” arranged by Kevin Cooper. The audience was very responsive, asking a number of pertinent questions about technique.

Petar also performed his own composition, “Serbian Wreath.” This piece has never been written down allowing him to introduce improvisation as the situation demands. Many interesting effects were included, such as a mandolin-like tremolo, percussive techniques and placing the right hand at varying distances from the bridge to change the timbre of the music, as well as damping strings at appropriate times.

Many of Petar’s songs had their origin in his native land which is now Serbia. To enhance the Gypsy-like nature of these numbers, Petar was joined by Zac Kotivic in several spectacular renditions including “Djelem, Djelem,” “Jovano, Jovanke” and “Zikino Kolo.” Surprisingly, the accordion did not overpower the quiet classical guitar demonstrating the skill of the players in achieving an appropriate balance.


The {second hour featured an extended modern piece entitled “Contrastes” performed by seven members of the Eastman Adult Guitar Ensemble including Petar playing and directing. Contrastes is a four-part work consisting of many interesting rhythmic variations. This was followed by performances by members of the Guitar Club and some of Petar’s students. As in Petarís presentation there was a great deal of variety from classical to contemporary. The final piece of the evening was a duet performed by two of Petarís students. It was based on the renaissance “Recercate Concertante” by Francesco da Milano and played with capos at the third fret to produce a lute-like effect.

We thank James Rowe and Daily Perks for providing a comfortable background for an instructive and enjoyable evening with Petar Kodzas.

No presentation is planned for June 11, so bring your guitar and a couple of songs!

— R. Taglieri, photos by M. Taglieri

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