|Pictured at top,
Alex Gorelick '09 performs during a WesGuitars meeting March 9. Pictured in back, from left, are Bolivian
guitarist, Marcos Puña and
private lessons teacher of classical guitar and WesGuitar coordinator.
Pictured below is
WesGuitars member Sylvia Ryerson ’09.
the speaker button to hear
Gorelick playing Prelude No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos)
WesGuitars Club Strummin' Up Worldly Music on Campus, Local Community
Ryerson ’09 came to Wesleyan with an interest in classic guitar, but no real
ability to play the instrument. But after
joining a new club called WesGuitars, she’s already memorized pieces by
Brazillian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Cuban conductor Leo Brouwer.
“I’ve always loved the sound of classical guitar,” she says. “It's great to
sit in a room with a bunch of other guitarists and share what I've been
working on, and hear music by others. It's a really fun and encouraging
WesGuitars, a campus group generated last semester, meets twice a month in
the Davenport Campus Center. During the March 9 meeting, Ryerson played a
Villa-Lobos composition live for the club. Afterwards, fellow WesGuitar
members complemented her efforts and offered constructive criticism.
The performance-oriented meetings serve as an opportunity for players to get
feedback, tell stories, discuss different composers, ask questions, meet
guest artists and be inspired. Sometimes, the WesGuitars will break out into
a jam session.
The Music Department’s Cem Duruoz, private lessons teacher of classical
guitar, coordinates the informal club gatherings. He says the club’s purpose
is to promote classical guitar awareness at Wesleyan and the Middletown
community. The students may also perform in various concerts throughout the
Although the guitar originated in Spain, the students study music from
American, Mexican, Turkish, Brazilian, Japanese musicians, among others.
“Everyone has their own diverse interests, so we encourage each other to
learn music from all over the world,” says Duruoz, who has studied and
performed internationally. “The students are always free to write their own
Alex Gorelick ’09, a chemistry and music major, has played guitar for seven
years. During the recent meeting, he performed "Prelude No. 1" by
and "Sakura," a popular fast-fingered folk song from Japan. The song took
him three months to master and memorize. Afterwards, guest artist Marcos Puña of Bolivia inspired Gorelick by playing the same song an octave higher.
“There are many variations on how to play a song, and writing the music for
guitar is close to impossible,” Duruoz explains. “So much the way someone
plays a song comes from the way they were influenced. I just recommend that
they play the way they are most confident with.”
Graduate student Glenn Henshaw says audiences respond the varied sounds of
the guitar. The instrument can be tender and sonorous or it can be deeply
rhythmic and angular, he explains.
“The guitar is a relatively young instrument but it has timeless qualities,”
says Henshaw, who is learning "Homenaje - Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy" by
Manuel de Falla. “We want people to walk away from our performances and say,
“I had no idea the guitar could do that.’”
The guitar repertoire is diverse and affective. Some members of the group
have performed duets with pianists, flautists and vocalists. Guitar newbie
Ryerson says her life-long experience with the violin and reading music has
helped the learning process tremendously, even though the fingering on the
violin and guitar are backwards.
Most of the club members take or have taken private lessons with Duruoz,
however WesGuitars welcomes all musicians from campus and the surrounding
area to join. Henshaw says the relaxed environment ensures that beginners or
non-classical players can feel comfortable enough to pick up a guitar and
“Despite the fact that the Wesleyan music program is decidedly theory based
there is widespread interest in performance; groups like ours will cater to
both the casual and serious musicians on campus and in the community,”
Henshaw says. “We’d really like to make Wesleyan and Middletown a mecca for
The club will culminate this year with a concert as part of the Chapel Music
Series on April 7. They also are sponsoring a concert by Spanish guitarist Juan José Sáenz
at 7 p.m. April 9 in Crowell Concert Hall. He will play a program of Spanish
For more information on WesGuitars e-mail Cem Duruoz at
|By Olivia Bartlett,
Wesleyan Connection editor