Jon Fitzgerald & Gohar Vardenyan at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, November 5, 2011

Tonight, I was one of the lucky people who were able to attend the Rising Stars Concert of Classical Guitar sponsored by the Great Lakes Guitar Society at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Rochester, NY.

This evening featured two fantastic artists. Jon Fitzgerald, who is pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Eastman School of Music and is a prize winning finalist in the 2011 Great Lakes Festival as well as a winner of the “Audience Choice” award.  Also featured was Armenian Guitarist, Gohar Vardenyan, a Juilliard School of Music Graduate whom Guitar International Magazine described as “the complete package...with a musicality and emotional quality that one would expect from someone much older than the young wunderkind.”


Jon Fitzgerald

Jon Fitzgerald appeared first. He played a program consisting of pieces by Manual Ponce, Giulio Regondi, and Maximo Diego Pujol. To hear the Music of Guilio Regondi on guitar was a special treat for the audience because the music is not played that often, and there have only been a few recordings to date of his work. Personally, my favorite song that Jon played was “Preludio Triston,” a very beautiful piece by Pujol.

I have seen Jon play in the past, but this was my first time hearing him play an entire program. He played with passion from the start to the end and has such depth and maturity to his playing that you realize from the very first song that you are listening to a seasoned and sensitive player possessing a high degree of skill on his instrument. Watch for future concerts featuring Jon Fitzgerald!



Gohar Vadenyan

After a brief intermission, Gohar Vadenyan presented the audience with a program featuring works by Dionisio Aguado, Agustin Barrios Mangore, Regino Sainz de la Maza, Isaac Albeniz, Joaquin Rodrigo, and Johann K. Mertz. From the very first notes, I knew that we were in the presence of a guitarist who, as my friend Kinloch described her “ one who not only plays the music, but owns the music.” Gohar took command of the stage from the minute she walked on stage. My favorite piece that she played was “Invocacion y Danza” by Joaquin Rodrigo. The beginning of the piece is so haunting it raises the spirits of the dead and brings them to life!  She announced that this song was also her favorite piece to play in concert—beautifully executed from start to finish.

Another piece she played was “Un Sueño en la Floresta” by Agustin Barrios Mangore. It was, as she said before playing it, “a song with very large stretches” in which she sustained notes using a tremolo technique–a very hard piece which she made look easy.

All in all, this evening of classical guitar was well worth the 45-mile drive from Albion into the city of Rochester. If you told me that Jon and Gohar were going to play another concert,I would make the trip into Rochester again in a heartbeat to see them. I would suggest to anyone to keep their eyes open for the next opportunity to see Jon Fitzgerald or Gohar Vardanyan play Classical Guitar. You will understand why from the first notes that come pouring out of their instruments–-an evening very well spent!

~Jim Doyle

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