Guitarist tunes the room

By Alec Calvillo
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Classical guitarist Scott Tennant is deep into playing “Tiento Antiguo” during his classical guitar concert in the Henry W. Coil, Sr. and Alice Edna Coil School for the Arts Concert Hall on Sept. 29. (Alec Calvillo |Viewpoints)

Guitar and music fans gathered on Sept. 29 at Riverside City College’s Henry W. Coil, Sr. and Alice Edna Coil School for the Arts Concert Hall to witness Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Scott Tennant perform.

The lights dimmed and people applauded as Tennant entered the stage wearing all black as he held his Philip Woodfield nylon string guitar.

Tennant began his concert with a piece from one of his favorite composers Joaquin Rodrigo called “Tiento Antiguo.”

The song was soft and mellow, but had some edge to it when he played the top strings.

The song wasn’t played fast, yet it was hypnotizing and beautiful.

The sound bounced off the walls at Riverside City College’s new auditorium as he didn’t need a microphone to speak or play.

It was mind blowing how much emotion could come from a song being played by one person with a six string guitar.

It was obvious why Tennant was invited to perform at Riverside City College. It wasn’t only because of his great achievements and credentials.

When he isn’t performing he’s teaching.

Tennant is a professor at the USC Thornton School of Music, which he also attended in 1980s.

He had many teachers growing up but one of his more memorable classical guitar teachers was Pepe Romero.

He grew up in a family that was familiar with classical music. He started his journey at the age of six, and decided to play classical guitar when he was 11.

“I was six years old and my mom made me practice 15 minutes a day. It was really painful,” Tennant said.

The painful learning curve in Tennant’s early years payed off little by little, but the key was his love for guitar.

“After you see some progress you want to play, but it takes a while to see the progress. You have to be patient,” Tennant said.

Success isn’t achieved overnight, and Tennant proved his ability with his last piece of the night.

“Forrozal” by Marco Pereira, a Brazilian piece, was the most exciting of that evening.

The beginning of the song was the best as Tennant was playing arpeggios up and down the neck. It gave me goosebumps.

Tennant showed off to the audience with this catchy piece.

His fingers resembled a spider spinning its web as he was plucking strings in a fast pace.

Tennant said that he was trying to learn how to play the song by ear but couldn’t quite get it down before a student showed him the song on YouTube.

He watched the video more than 200 times until he learned it.

He also said that “Forrozal” is originally played with a viola caipira, which is a ten stringed instrument that is most commonly used in Brazil.

Everyone had their own favorite piece and for RCC student Eleazar Llerenas, it was one of the earlier pieces performed by Tennant, “Campanas del Alba” by Eduardo Sainz de la Maza.

“It was very mysterious and dark, almost transcending pieces,” said Llerenas. “It has a tremolo sustaining a note for almost eternity, and it had a bassline going over it. It sounded like an orchestra playing it.”

Llerenas was also happy with Tennant’s performance which he described it as laid back and casual.

“It was very open to you. You connect with the music easily, there was no boundary with Scott’s attitude toward the music,” said Llerenas.

Tennant also played five pieces from the French Baroque period. These pieces harkened back to the renaissance time period and were very complex.

He even transcribed one those French pieces himself called “Les Barricades Mysterieuses” that can also be viewed on YouTube.

It utilizes triple time, which means the music sways back and forth.

It wasn’t the most exciting pieces he played that night, but was still one of the most impressive pieces he played.

The end of the concert concluded with a well deserved standing ovation by the audience.