Angle an ear in nearly any direction with the Indiana University Guitar Ensemble, and you can hear enough varied parts to take you to the brink of instrumental happiness.
Director Daniel Duarte said he promises such when the 12-member group visits Columbus on April 22 to revive the once-disbanded free Music At Asbury Series at Asbury United Methodist Church.
“I always encourage people to listen for the interaction between all 12 instruments,” he said. “I encourage them to try to filter the different sounds, since they’re all doing different parts.
Imagining a tennis match is a way to do that,” Duarte added.
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“Instead of seeing two players, think of 12 players at once. And then try to follow where the ball is going. And I guarantee that will keep you very busy,” he said.
The group of IU undergraduate and graduate students will perform Bach to baroque to the Beatles with the help of acoustic, electric, bass, classical and soprano guitars, according to the 32-year-old Duarte. He’s an IU adjunct lecturer and also a nationally touring classical guitarist with his own act known as the Petar & Daniel Guitar Duo.
“We see a little bit of everything (in ages and backgrounds) in our audiences,” Duarte said. “I think part of that is because the guitar is very inclusive.”
Organizer and IU music school alumnus Chuck VanNatta, 87, launched the concert series in 2002 to offer area residents more varied musical choices. He closed the programs two years ago, thinking he truly would settle more quietly into retirement after bringing in groups ranging from the Singing Hoosiers to Japanese musicians performing on obscure-but-flowing instruments.
At least once per season, the performances would attract a capacity 400-plus people.
Yet, when the series ended its popular run, residents began asking when the next performance would be. Also, they continued feeding him ideas of performers, such as the guitar ensemble. So, here goes VanNatta again, now planning to organize perhaps three shows annually.
“I’ll be doing it now without a lot of the active searching I did before,” VanNatta said. “This will be easier.
“And IU is still a pretty ripe source for people and groups regularly looking for places to play. I think we still can offer a lot that people otherwise will never hear,” VanNatta added.
Conductor Duarte acknowledged that leading the visiting ensemble can be a challenge when the music’s energy makes him want to pick up his guitar and join the performance.
“Oh, very often,” he said, laughing.
VanNatta once sang the praises of the series with a colorful comment that still seems as fitting as when he uttered it almost a decade ago: “Whether it’s bop or Bach, it does something for your spirit.”
What: The revival of the Music At Asbury series that has highlighted a broad and varied collection of music and performers since its inception.
Who: The Indiana University Guitar Ensemble, performing tunes ranging from baroque to the Beatles.
When: 7 p.m. April 22.
Where: Asbury United Methodist Church, 1751 27th St. in Columbus.
Admission: Free, but financial donations help cover the costs of performers’ travel, time and such.