Guitar Ensemble Paves The Way For Live Music Shows Again At OCCC

By Zoe Taylor – Pioneer Reporter

Oklahoma City Community College hosted an in-person Guitar Ensemble on Dec. 8th in the OCCC Atrium. The concert featured both original and previously recorded pieces.

Five students played in the performance as soloists. Three of five soloists played in the ensemble as well. The show featured 13 solo pieces and seven ensemble pieces.

The free event used the Christmas tree located in OCCC’s main building as a backdrop for the performance.

Classical guitar teacher, Terry Isaacs, stated that his students worked hard this year. This is the first live performance that has been done since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“They’ve done a lot individually, and in an ensemble, it made a difference being back on campus,” Isaacs said.

Many of the performers were OCCC students and Isaacs views them all as young adults.

Abelino Cruz (left), David Gaytan (middle), and Alberto Avila ‘Meraz (right) performed during the show. (Photo by Zoe Taylor )

“All of them are college students, except, I have a student that’s a sophomore at Classen SAS Highschool,” Isaac stated.

A music major here at OCCC, Reigneth Oguni, performed two original pieces she wrote herself. 

“One in a classical style utilizing fingerpicking and the other strumming with a guitar pick,” Isaacs stated.

Oguni’s performance stood out among others because of her choice to showcase her vocal talents.

Reigneth Oguni performed two original pieces she wrote herself (Photo by Zoe Taylor).

Isaacs said, “She was actually singing and playing, so it’s unique. Usually, there’s no singing in classical guitar.” 

The ensemble featured classical guitar pieces from the Baroque renaissance period and traditional Christmas music such as “Oh Holy Night,” a traditional French carol, and “Feliz Navidad.”

Isaacs stated that one of his students, Abelino Cruz, rearranged “Feliz Navidad” to close the ensemble.

“They came up to me the week before Thanksgiving and said, ‘Hey we wanna do Feliz Navidad.’ Abelino rearranged it, and we worked on it,’” Isaacs said.

Issacs noted he was shocked by his students’ ambition. The students came to class prepared to impress Isaacs with their work early during the performance week.

“Tuesday when we met in class, and they played it, and I was like, ‘Holy cow.’ They really have rehearsed it,’” Isaacs said.

This semester is Cruz’s last semester at OCCC, and Isaacs stated the reworked “Feliz Navidad” piece is Cruz’s “last big bang.” The students practiced even outside of class to ensure the performance was ready for the concert.

The OCCC Guitar Ensemble has been an annual event for over a decade. The event has inspired musicians to join the program. 

“It is a wonderful experience. I actually have gained students at the concerts, saying, ‘Hey, I’m interested in playing guitar, I wanna play like this,’” Isaacs said. 

 Alberto Avila ‘Meraz, David Gaytan, Abelino Cruz, Jackson Burghart, and Reigneth Oguni (from left to right) (Photo by Zoe Taylor).

The ensemble is open to anyone with basic music knowledge and a willingness to learn. 

“You don’t have to be a music major to be in the guitar ensemble. You just have to know or learn how to read music. We’re open to everybody. It’s an open door,” Isaacs stated.

Isaacs added that the guitar ensemble provided young adults with valuable experience to further their music careers and that the guitar ensemble could apply to their resumes.