It’s common to hear a song featuring a guitar or two. But four guitars? That makes for an uncommon evening of music.
Formed in 2014, the Borealis Guitar Quartet in Anchorage is dedicated to performing arrangements of classic pieces rewritten for guitar, as well as more modern music written specifically for their kind of quartet.
“I think because you usually hear guitar either as part of a band … or as a solo instrument … you never experience more guitarists, particularly four,” said Armin Abdihodzic, a professor of guitar at the University of Alaska Anchorage and a member of the group.
The quartet, hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Performing Arts Society, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Soldotna Christ Lutheran Church.
While a relatively new endeavor, guitar quartets are no longer rare, Abdihozic said. One of the first groups that really “made it” came out of Los Angeles, and paved the way for the quartets that would come after it by arranging classic pieces to be played on guitars, he said.
“We’re just kind of starting to showcase what guitars can do,” Abdihozic said.
Admission on the night of the event is $20 for adults and $10 for students. Maria Allison, a Performing Arts Society board member, said funds from ticket sales will go to help pay for more concerts in the future.
Abdihodzic has performed on the peninsula in the past, and Allison said the society jumped at the chance to have his newly formed quartet make the trip from Anchorage. The concert should appeal to a wide range of people, she said, partially because of the popularity of guitars.
“So many people play guitar,” Allison said. “We just feel like it is a wonderful opportunity for people to hear. It’s just going to be a really neat program for the community.”
Abdihodzic said he was looking to start a group of musicians that could mesh quickly without a lot of coaching. Born in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, he began playing guitar at age 7 and has since performed all over the world, including Brazil, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The group features Kiel Schweizer, an adjunct professor at UAA, on the ukulele. Schweizer runs the East High Guitar Program for the Anchorage School District, and created a high school curriculum specifically for the ukulele in 2012.
Ryan Nitz-Maile brings a10-string guitar to the group. While he got his degree in Arizona, he has performed across the United States and Canada.
On a six-string guitar, like Abdihozic, Jon Ok Han joins the quartet after having played in the Guitar Chamber Orchestra in Incheon, Korea, where he was born.
Friday, the quartet will take listeners through some pieces by Bach before treating them to music with a Brazilian flair and will also showcase some more contemporary work, Abdihozic said.
Before the concert, Allison said the quartet will pay a visit to area schools to play for students.
“I like those because we play a piece and the students will ask some questions,” Abdihozic said. “That’s a great experience because it’s more of a relaxed atmosphere than the concert.”
Allison said the Performing Arts Society tries to promote education along with its musical endeavors.
The society tries to get as many musicians who come for concerts into schools as possible, Allison said. It’s even better when they have the time to do workshops with the kids, she said.
“I think that all the people in the field of music in the public schools are always working to make sure we have enough support for programs,” Allison said. “We just feel like this is a way of supporting the music programs.”
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