The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

UWEC’s third annual Guitar Fest

The university celebrates its guitar studio with a day full of guitar festivities
Photo by Godwin Agar
From left to right, Connor Simon, Jai Chaturvedi, and Derek Braend, playing their guitars in Haas Lobby

From business to science, and from art to music, UW-Eau Claire has many different paths to choose from for its students to study. Among these is its music department, with one of its newest additions. 

Felipe Vargas Magaleno is the guitar professor at the university. He started playing guitar at the age of 14 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. In 2020, Vargas began the guitar program here at UW-Eau Claire. 

Vargas and the guitar studio here at the university just hosted its third annual guitar fest, at Haas Fine Arts Center. The festival took place from 12-7 p.m. on Oct. 28. It featured activities such as masterclasses, small lessons and performances from the students in the guitar studio.

One student is second-year Jai Chaturvedi, a political science major with a minor in guitar.

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 “I started playing back in India. I’m from New Deli in India. We have the New Deli School of Music— I was there for four years then started doing it on my own,” Chaturvedi said.

Chaturvedi said that he hadn’t planned on pursuing anything guitar-related here at the university, until talking to Vargas. 

“I talked to Felipe over email and he was super encouraging. He’s like, ‘come and audition’ and I auditioned and got in and I’ve been here ever since,” Chaturvedi said. 

Chaturvedi said that with the program being so young, this festival is a way for students to grow this program and promote it to other students, especially high school students, who may want to pursue a major or minor.

Another student is third-year Connor Simon, who taught an “Intro to Campfire Guitar” lesson at the festival. Simon came into the university his freshman year undecided until he saw Vargas rehearsing. 

“I went in and just heard some of the coolest stuff. I didn’t know guitars could sound like that. I was used to metal and rock. So being able to learn how to do that seemed cool to me, and that’s what made me want to join,” Simon said.

Simon, along with the other members of the studio, are the trailblazers for this program, as they joined around the same time.

“It feels like a group of friends that are pioneering this thing. I hope it will continue to grow and gain more interest on campus,” Simon said.

The festival featured José Luís Puerta, a guitarist and Assistant professor of Music at the University of Arizona and Alfredo Vázquez, the Associate Faculty of Music-Guitar at Cochise College. The two form the duo known as thePuerta-Vázquez Duo.”

The events of the festival included “Intro to Campfire Guitar” and “Intro to Jazz Guitar,” taught by members of the guitar studio, and masterclasses taught by both Puerta and Vázquez. All leading up to concerts performed by the studio members and the Puerta-Vázquez Duo.

“The more that we get guitars into people’s hands the better because then we can get more people interested in music and try to find their own voice through the guitar,” Simon said.

To find more information on the music program and other festivities here on campus, go to the university Music and Theater Arts page

Agbara can be reached at [email protected].

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