Jesse Ramirez

Gems of Genres

Odessa American Newspaper

Intimidation comes in a variety of forms, but for a 14-year-old Ector Junior High student, it came from seeing darkness while looking out from the stage of theWagner Noël Performing Arts Center.

Chris Adame, a student of guitar at Ector, performed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” with an ensemble Thursday evening for the Third Annual West Texas Guitar Festival. The festival featured Bobby Broom, a jazz guitarist who’s performed with Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins, and his group Deep Blue Organ Trio, and Baltimore-based Ana Vidovic from Croatia, a renowned classical guitarist who’s toured the world.

 

“I thought it would be scary when I first got on stage,” Adame said. “But once I sat down and I started, it really wasn’t that bad.”

Vidovic taught a one-hour class in which she shared playing techniques such as how to control dynamics and how to characterize phrasing. Performing on stage is invaluable for young players, she said.

“It’s important for young students to be exposed to that kind of playing experience. It’s from that experience that they learn to deal with the stress of playing. Not only that, but it’s actually very rare that they’re given the opportunity as they are here,” Vidovic said.

Vidovic said this was her first time to the area and said the Wagner Noël PAC is “absolutely beautiful.” Already this year, Vidovic has played in the Hong Kong Coliseum, at the Portland Classical Guitar concert series, with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and at the Festival Internacional de Guitarra Culiacán in Culiacán, Mexico.

The opening of the Wagner Noël PAC in November meant this was the first year the guitar festival could be there.

“It’s been much easier to host it here than it was when it was spread throughout three buildings at UTPB,” Associate Professor of Music and Festival Director Dan Keast said.

Keast spearheaded the festival four years ago after noticing that guitar education didn’t have similar resources as orchestra and band education.

“I sat down with previous judges of guitar festivals and they would tell me, ‘We’re violinists. We don’t understand why we’re judging guitarists,’ ” Keast said. “Band and orchestra have UIL competitions and contests, but there’s nothing like that for guitar around here.”

Students had the option of entering competition for $10, and in doing so, had to play a piece of music from the Texas Prescribe Music List (a kind of canon for guitar education) and a piece of the student’s choice.

Keast said between 80 and 100 students registered to participate in the festival, but he was unsure Saturday how many attended.

Teachers from around the area, like Jesse Ramirez of San Angelo’s West Texas Guitar Studio, Dennis Harris of Odessa’s Permian Basin Guitar Studio and Mike Camden of Odessa’s N-Tune Music, gave workshops throughout Saturday.

Ector Junior High School is the only junior high in Odessa that offers guitar lessons.

Guitar Director Joe Campos said this festival offers his students a rich learning experience.

“They’re bug-eyed when they’re in this place,” Campos said, referring to the PAC. “At the same time, they’re very humbled by being here and have a lot of respect for it. I hope they can see that there’s a lot to be learned outside of our own class.”

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Wedding Client

" Jesse Ramirez performed music for my wedding ceremony and did an excellent job. He succeeded in making my unusual 'wedding march' song request into something beautiful and natural. Jesse was easy to work with and personal. He made me feel comfortable and confident that he was the right one for the job. I will continue to recommend him to anyone looking for a talented musician."

Guitar Student

"There are a lot of good guitar players and Jesse is definitely one of those, but he has a real talent for teaching, which many players don't. Jesse has a natural sense for what the student is ready for and when. It is refreshing and helps keep the interest high when a teacher doesn't follow a cookie cutter approach. I know he has been the most important aspect of any advances in my playing."