Musical expertise on six strings – Guitar Series opens with Jordan Dodson

With the seemingly never-ending snowfall that currently consumes Holland, Michigan, it was unsure if the next performer in the Hope College Guitar Series would arrive on time to give his scheduled concert last weekend; we were warned as we received out tickets that his plane may not make it in safely. But, sure enough, the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts was graced by an accomplished musician who, with deft hands, brought music and warmth to his audience from the first note of his guitar.

Jordan Dodson, who plays both as a solo and chamber guitarist, put on an enjoyable performance on Friday night, Jan. 25. He became invested in music at a young age and has earned degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. As implied by his study, Dodson displayed remarkable mastery over his Gary Lee guitar in the John and Dede Howard Recital Hall. Dodson is based out of Philadelphia and New York, but his musical career has taken him as far as Bogotá, Columbia and Daniou, France. He has traveled all over the U.S., with Holland being his most recent destination. During his years as both a teacher and performer, Dodson has received accolades from such events as the 2008 American String Teachers Association Competition, the 2010 Indiana International Guitar Competition and the 2013 Young Artist in Residence on American Public Medias Performance Today.

His diverse and complex assortment of music not only held the audience’s attention, but also strived to redefine their previous understanding of the guitar as an instrument. Dodson began the night with “Hungarian Fantasy” by Johann Kaspar Mertz, catching the audience’s attention with this traditional melody. Next came Johann Sebastian Bach’s unique 3- part composition, where Dodson proved his competence over classical music. “Paths of Resistance” by Jason Ekardt followed, shocking listeners out of their lull with erratic, often jarring chords. Dai Fujikura’s “Chance Monsoon” was up next, Dodson once again surprising the audience with realistic sounds of rainfall. “Fantasia” by Luigi Legnani was as dreamlike as its name suggests, and Dodson concluded his concert with the intriguing “Libra Sonatine,” in which the composer – Roland Dyens – put an artistic spin on his travel to India and the illness he suffered while there. Throughout the recital, Dodson gave insight into the pieces he was about to play, informing the crowd of the subtle religiosity in Bach’s work and the various insights Dodson came to understand as he prepared these pieces.

This concert marks the third concert of the year and the first one of the spring semester for the Hope College Guitar Series. Dodson was preceded by Andreas Kapsalis and the Beijing Duo, who played in the fall semester, and will be followed by Paul Galbraith, who will play in the Concert Hall on March 1. Music enthusiasts who have enjoyed these unique artistic experiences should be sure to mark the date for this final concert of the year.

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