Carnegie Mellon Guitar Ensemble and Duquesne Electronic Ensemble are sure to entertain

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The town is alive with free music tonight that ought to please, whatever your taste.

For the more classically minded, there’s the Carnegie Mellon Guitar Ensemble performing at the Mellon Institute Auditorium on Fifth Avenue. Or you can sample the cutting edge of fusion with the Duquesne Electronic Ensemble at the Mary Pappert School of Music on Forbes Avenue.

“The Guitar Ensemble plays a wide variety of music from solo repertoire to larger ensemble, sometimes with a soloist,” said Dana Casto, director of marketing and communications for the school of music. “The arrangements are done for up to six different guitars.

“The group is led by faculty member James Ferla, and tonight’s concert also features special guest John Marcinizyn, who also is a faculty member.”

The other four members of the Guitar Ensemble are CMU students, all playing classical six-string guitars. The ensembles perform twice a year.

“Jim would say one of his primary goals is to bring a wide range of repertoire designed for the acoustic guitar to the public and provide an opportunity for his students to learn and prepare and perform that music,” Mr. Casto said.

Attendees can expect to hear Molinaro’s "Saltarello and Ballo," "El Vito" (a Spanish folksong), Chobanian’s “Lepo Lele” from "Songs of Ararat," and Gagnon’s "Kaleidoscope."

“I’m always impressed with how they pull together such a broad range of stuff,” Mr. Casto said. “Bach to traditional Spanish folksongs to arrangements of a Hoagie Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind” and Doc Watson. It really is a very eclectic program. And what they’re playing tonight is very representative of the typical concert that they put on.”

Over at Duquesne, the eclectic is electric.

“It’s a great ensemble. It’s really different,” said Professor William Purse, chair of music technology on The Bluff. “We have two groups with 12 or 13 kids in each of them. They play iPads, they play computers, we have synthesizers, all types of controllers, acoustic, electric. It’s pretty unique.

“Duquesne is one of the first to offer electronic technology music for credit. All our students that are in music technology are in large ensembles for two years and then electronic ensemble. They mix contemporary, classical, jazz, fusion, electronic music. They play electric violins, cellos, wind controllers, we have vocalists. Just about anything.

“It’s a pretty wide range. If you can play something or can beat on something, you can be in electronic ensemble.”

The music isn’t Bach, but rather student compositions and arrangements. And it’s very definitely music.

“It’s very musical,” Mr. Purse said. “They’re not going to come out here and play just bleeps and bloops. We’ve done stuff by Mason Bates and David Borden, some of the minimalist composers.”

The Duquesne Electronic Ensemble performs at 600 Forbes Ave., starting at 7:30.

The Carnegie Mellon Guitar Ensemble plays at 4400 Fifth Ave., starting at 8.

Both of the Nov. 20 performances are free and open to the public.

Dan Majors:

First Published November 20, 2013 4:00 PM

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