Precision and Heart: Beijing Guitar Duo

by Derek Emerson, Director of Public Engagement, Events and Conferences

The acoustic guitar world is a demanding world. Precision is key, but heart is essential. A technically precise performance is expected, but if that is all you hear, you leave the concert impressed but unmoved. But when a performance combines technical skill with passion, you can walk away with a slightly altered worldview. Of course, this is the result of any great art which takes you into another realm and sends you back with a new way of seeing your world.

It can also be a solitary world for the guitarist, practicing for hours alone in preparation for those few hours in front of an audience. But for guitarists Meng Su and Yameng Wang, who make up the Beijing Guitar Duo performing here at Hope this Friday, those hours alone are supplemented by hours of working together. A solo guitar concert is a chance to watch an artist single handily fill the void, but a duo guitar concert is similar to watching a pas de deux in ballet. There are moments of individual soaring, but the guitarists are continually working around and with one another.

Wang and Su obviously love this guitar dance. Both come from the coastal city of Qingdao in China, and they each found early individual success. Before Su left high school, she had already won several international guitar competitions. Wang was the youngest winner ever of the Tokyo International Guitar Competition — when she was 12. Eventually, they both ended up in the U.S. studying in Baltimore with the legendary Manuel Barrueco. But despite their individual success, they continue to work together.

In addition to recording a CD with Barrueco himself, the duo’s other recordings have found great success. Their debut CD,  Maracaípe, received a Latin-GRAMMY nomination for the title piece, written specifically for them by Sergio Assad (who performed at Hope College with his brother in 1998). As a duo they have performed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. This past season alone took them to countries such as Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, China, Panama, and the United States.

Watch and listen to the Beijing Duo!

But for our audience, you only need to drive to the Jack H. Miller Center on the Hope College campus to be part of the Beijing Guitar Duo’s world. As with any performance, you get the chance to see the world with new vision.

EVENT INFORMATION

Beijing Guitar Duo
Friday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
John and Dede Recital Howard at the Jack H. Miller Center
Tickets are available online, at the Hope Ticket office in the Anderson-Werkman building (100 East 8th St.), or at the door on Friday.

Hope Alum Wins at ArtPrize

We kick off this new blog, The Arts at Hope, with fantastic news! Last Friday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hope alumna Megan Constance Altieri ’13 was named a winner in ArtPrize, the West Michigan-based international art competition recognized as one of the world’s largest annual public art events. Altieri’s piece, Sonder, won the $12,500 Installation Public Vote Award.

Installed on the grounds of the Grand Rapids Public Art Museum, Sonder “illustrates the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as our own,” reads the description of the work on the ArtPrize website. “In our awareness of even a single other person, we begin to grasp the magnitude of the 7.6 billion coexisting realities all as specific and important as one another. Over the past two years, Altieri has gathered fragments of overheard conversations and hand-stamped them on articles of clothing matching those of the speaker.”

Sonder is moving for its empathy as it offers viewers a greater awareness of lives lived outside their own. The public engagement with the piece was also touching; at any one time, dozens and dozens of curious people engaged with the work, taking in and talking about its significance.

“Megan was one of those students I’ll never forget. She was constantly in the studio and devoted herself fully to her art, yet also had the best sense of humor,” recalls Dr. Heidi Kraus, associate professor of art and art history and director of the DePree Art Gallery. “You could always expect to see Megan laughing, but the seriousness with which she approached her work was never in question. The department is so proud of her—although we certainly aren’t surprised by her success. She was and remains a bright light in our program here at Hope.”

When she’s not winning an ArtPrize, Altieri — who also was a four-year women’s soccer player for Hope — is an art teacher at Wellspring Preparatory High School in Grand Rapids.

Watch Altieri talk about Sonder‘s creation and relevance.

Congratulations, Megan Constance Altieri! Your alma mater is happy for and proud of you!