Classical Guitarists Perform in Indianapolis: A Review

From right to left: Joseph Jones, John Alvarado, Joshua Hurt, Grace Elmer, and Jack Osborne. Not pictured: Daniel Quinn.
From right to left: Joseph Jones, John Alvarado, Joshua Hurt, Grace Elmer, and Jack Osborne. Not pictured: Daniel Quinn.

On Thursday, the Indianapolis Society of the Classical Guitar held their first concert of the 2022-2023 series in the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex at IUPUI. 

IT 152
The stage in IT 152

According to Society Treasurer John Cazares, it was the first they had been able to have since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Around twenty people attended, including students and community members. 

John Alvarado, senior lecturer of guitar at IUPUI, opened with a performance of “Sarabande” by Francis Poulenc, “The Rose in the Garden” by Carlo Domeniconi and “Atravesado” by Gerardo Tamez. 

Joseph Jones, a magnetics technician and adjunct professor from the Indianapolis area, went next with an emotional performance of “Sonatina Meridional” by Manuel Ponce. “I just love playing,” he said after the performance. “I’ve been playing guitar for about 16 years and was mostly self taught until I was 17 or 18 years old, after which I took lessons under Brett Terrell. Then I got my associate’s degree [in music] at Vincennes University, my undergrad [in guitar performance] at the University of Indianapolis and [am working on] my Master’s [in classical guitar performance] at Butler.”

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Joshua Hurt, a classical guitarist,  music director for School o Rock Fishers, and IUPUI and IU Jacobs School of Music graduate, followed with a great performance of “Grand Overture” by Mauro Giuliani. He seemed fully immersed in the feeling of the piece. He has previously  performed with the National Youth Orchestra at the Music for All National Conference and with the Indianapolis Civic Theater Company for their performance of “Footloose”. 

Following a brief intermission, Daniel Quinn, a Doctor of Music, classical guitarist and instructor at IU South Bend and elsewhere, played “Evocacion and Joropo” by Jose Luis Merlin, “Tango en Skai” by Roland Dyens and the ever popular “Tarantella” by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco with the precision and technical skill of a master musician of over thirty years. 

Next, Jack Osborne, a classical guitarist and junior at IU Bloomington, played “Gavotte en Rondeau and Bourree from 1006a” by Johann Sebastian Bach. A youthful joy characterized his playing, and his style was a nice contrast to Quinn’s, as it seemed less methodical yet flowed nicely. Following the more lighthearted piece by Bach, he played “Capricho Arabe” by Francisco Tarrega, which was a deeper and sadder tune. 

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“I’ve been playing guitar for ten years,” he said afterwards. “My family on my mom’s side pretty much all play the guitar, and I used to jam with them every summer. As blues guitarists, they kind of raised me in that side of things. I think music has been the greatest comfort in my life for as long as I can remember.”

Osborne was very attentive to the tuning of his instrument, adjusting by ear a few times while on stage. 

Finally, Grace Elmer, classical guitarist and instructor at IU Jacobs School of Music, joined Osborne on the stage to play the “Barber of Seville for Two Guitars” by Mauro Giuliani and her own arrangement of “Claire de Lune” by Claude Debussy. 

“I’ve been playing guitar for about 15 years,” she said after the performance. “I started when I was a kid with jazz and classical and I was singing a lot. I went to the Alabama School of Fine Arts, then I went to Interlochen, found my way to IU Jacobs and the rest is history!”

Speaking of what drew her to music, Elmer said “I grew up in Alabama, so in the deep south there is a lot of jazz and blues and country music. I was always one of those kids that had a pull of gravity towards it. I got a guitar for Christmas one year, and as the story goes, my dad taught me the 12 bar blues and I fell in love instantly. I was practicing all Christmas Break and I played and played and played, and at the end my mom said ‘Either you take lessons and learn new songs, or we get rid of the guitar, because I can’t listen to blues anymore!’” Elmer joked. “And, so I learned new songs. I started with the blues and jazz and became more classically trained from there.”

Classical Guitarists
From right to left: Joseph Jones, John Alvarado, Joshua Hurt, Grace Elmer, and Jack Osborne. Not pictured: Daniel Quinn.

Osborne and Elmer’s chemistry on stage was immediately clear. The two kept in agreement, making eye contact every so often. They swayed to the music and radiated joy and laughter as they played. During one staccato line, Elmer moved his head side to side in unison with the piece and smiled jokingly at Elmer. The fulfillment they found in music was evident as they took turns leading and harmonizing, although Elmer seemed to take the lead for a majority of the piece. Both laughed at the end. 

In Elmer’s arrangement of Clair de Lune, Osborne seemed to take more of the lead, but they both performed the well–known piece in beautiful harmony. 

The two have been playing together since last Fall. “A lot of guitar duos are about chemistry,” Elmer said. “It’s so difficult to time the little movements that you make with your fingers. It works so much better when you can communicate without having to worry about those. We realized that right away when Jack got to IU, so we started playing together. We’ve recorded some videos, made some arrangements and played concerts and all sorts of shenanigans since!”

“We perform at the IU campus in Bloomington all the time,” Osborne said. “We are really just starting to branch out and get to play in new settings, so this was a really exciting opportunity.”

The next concert of the Indianapolis Society of the Classical Guitar 2022-2023 series will be on October 13 in the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex at IUPUI at 7:30 pm. It will feature the winner of the prestigious 2021 Guitar Foundation of America International Competition, Bokyung Byun. The price of admission for students is $10. 

For those interested in getting involved with music on campus, the music club at IUPUI meets every Thursday at 4:00 pm. For more information, contact Rachel Oosterhoff at or join their discord.

Jacob Stewart is a junior majoring in neuroscience at IUPUI, and the campus editor of The Campus Citizen. He enjoys composing, playing the clarinet, piano, and guitar, and absolutely loves classical guitar duos, which he thinks are only second to classical guitar and cello duos. He hopes to get video of the concert soon.

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