Dodson Concert: County Concerts Hosts Rising Guitar Star

      On Oct. 22, Jordan Dodson, a solo guitarist, performed in McInnis auditorium as part of the Tri-County Concert Emerging Artist Series. The Tri-County Concert Association originally began in December 1941, making the 2017-2018 season its 77th year as a prominent chamber music venue. They state in their pamphlet that their “Emerging Artists” series aims to showcase “brilliant young musicians who [are] on their way to distinguished professional careers.” Previous young artists who have performed at Tri-County Concert events include William Kapell, Gil Shaham, and Pamela Frank, all of whom were under 25 at the time of their performance.

      Jordan Dodson himself is described by Performance Today as “one of the top young guitarists of his generation,” holding degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has played and taught in venues such as New York’s (Le) Poisson Rouge, Roulette (Brooklyn), Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, National Sawdust (Williamsburg), and the Museo Nacional de Colombia in Bogota, and performed in many music festivals, including the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, and Festival Daniou in France.

      One might think that attending a concert of such an accomplished musician would feel stiff, formal, and possibly even uncomfortable for everyone in attendance who isn’t an experienced musician themselves. However, the feeling of Dodson’s concert was friendly and almost intimate. Dodson sat on a bench on a well-lit stage, and after every set he walked over to the microphone and shared information about the songs he was playing; sometimes he even included personal anecdotes connected to the composers of the piece, or stories relating to the songs themselves. He put the audience members at ease, and made everyone feel comfortable. At one point, after giving a somewhat extensive analysis of a Bach piece he was about to perform, he reassured the audience that they didn’t need to remember all the technical information he was providing, and encouraged everyone to simply enjoy the music.  After Dodson introduced his second set of songs, one audience member even felt comfortable enough to ask about the wood used to make his guitar before Dodson began playing again (the sides of Dodson’s guitar are Indian rosewood, and the face is spruce.)

     Dodson values his connection with the audience, saying his favorite part about being a guitarist is that “the instrument connects with the audience immediately… the guitar helps remove barriers to audiences.” While a Bach piece played by an orchestra or symphony can feel lofty and far removed from the music an audience might typically be accustomed to enjoying, the guitar feels familiar and more relatable to many people.

     Though the guitar might be a more “relatable” and down-to-earth instrument, Dodson’s talent was still incredibly obvious, and very impressive. The pieces he played ranged from Bach and Regondi all the way to more modern composers such as Nicole Murphy and Dai Fujikura. The wide-range of his talent was clear, and his concert repertoire was impressive as well: he played 10 pieces total, which is a lot when you’re the only one onstage for over an hour! After the concert, the association provided refreshments and an opportunity to talk with Dodson.

     Despite the fact that tickets were free for students, the crowd was composed mostly of older adults. The Tri-County Concert Association provides a wonderful opportunity for students to experience classical music at little to no cost, with the convenience of the venue being a short walk away from the dorms. These events provide a unique opportunity for an entire community- college students and others from the surrounding area- to come together and celebrate beautiful music.

     Source: Tri-County Concert Association pamphlet

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