World premiere of commissioned work for the Pensacola Guitar Orchestra
The Pensacola Guitar Ensemble celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary with a World Premier of Benjamin Verdery’s piece Penzacola, a 14-minute programmatic work about the discovery of Pensacola Bay by both Native Americans and the Spanish written especially for the ensemble.
On Penzacola Belongs To All
Verdery studied the history of Pensacola for about a year in his effort to honestly portray Pensacola...His work takes the listener smoothly into the bay and on to a triumphal arrival of man landing on the beach. Again the wilderness is invoked with entering the forest and the Native American embraced with an alligator dance. Vocalists Evelyn Aguirre and Paige Sieminski added the perfect haunting touch at the end. Because I love Pensacola, I took the composition personally. The title “Penzacola Belongs to All” reminds me that I share my beloved town with everyone.
Throughout the piece the guitars interact with prerecorded local bird calls, and the piece uses material from the Spanish Vihuelist Milan and Seminole Tribe’s Alligator Dance. Prior to the Ensemble work, Ben played solo featuring a variety of works including Bach, Albeniz , Laderman, and Verdery.
On Verdery's solo performance...
Saturday, October 13 Verdery graced a small audience with his work at Pensacola State College’s Ashmore Auditorium. Classical guitar appeals to the auditory sense with a feeling of romanticism. This sense is heightened by watching the love and reverence with which Verdery played his instrument. The pieces were varied from “Cordoba” with a distinct Spanish flavor to contemporary dissonance in “On Vineyard Sound” to Verdery’s own arrangements of works by Bach and Mozart. The concert covered everything including three American songs made famous by Elvis Presley, Prince and Jimi Hendrix. My favorite by far was the Pavan by Milan performed on the delicate vihuela. The concert ended with the World Premiere Performance of “Penzacola Belongs to All” composed and conducted by Verdery, performed by the Pensacola Guitar Orchestra.