A four-handed orchestra

Minneapolis Guitar Quartet shakes the UC ballroom

The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet performed a three hour performance to a full University Center ballroom Thursday, Feb. 13, as part of the Big Rapids Festival of the Arts.

Some of the attendants were longtime fans of the quartet, while others simply love music. Ferris music and entertainment business major Melody DeJohn plays guitar — as well as piano and ukulele — and immediately sought interest in the event upon learning of it.

“The guitar is one of my favorite instruments and I thought this would be a really cool concert,” DeJohn said.

DeJohn’s favorite song was a Macedonian piece from the 14th or 15th century, a sentiment many concert goers agreed. One of the quartet’s final songs performed was Prince’s “Purple Rain,” and even without the lyrical accompaniment it was possible to hear the original melody.

The Macedonian piece seemed a big hit with listeners, and three pieces by Finnish composer Maria Kalaniemi had the audience tapping their feet to the beat.

They also played four songs by Joaquin Rodrigo, and one by the late English folksinger Nick Drake they commissioned for a guitar performance that required several minutes of tuning.

They finished the performance with a fast-paced excerpt of “The Ballad of Unhatched Chicks” that warranted a roar of laughter from the audience.

The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet was founded in 1986. Though only one original member still performs, they have together a familiarity that only develops from countless practice hours together.

The members took turns introducing the songs, most of which were not originally intended for six stringed instruments.

Spectators discovered the performance to be fascinating, even those familiar with traditional instrumentation. At times, the quartet’s hands moved so quickly they appeared to blur.

“That was actually really nice to listen to,” said Ferris dental hygiene sophomore Emma Vasche, an experienced cellist.

For more 2020 Festival of the Arts events, there’s a calendar on cityofbr.org that details upcoming events such as the “Art Glass Fusion” workshop and the “Art of Astrology,” as well as many other events Ferris offers as part of the festival.