SC Chamber Music Festival: Hundreds attend first annual music celebration


(Left to right) Carmelo de los Santos, Paulo Gualdi, Martin Gueorguiev and Sinisa Ciric perform at the FMU Performing Arts Center.

Martha Armstrong, Staff Writer

More than 300 Francis Marion University (FMU) students and members of the Florence community attended the first annual South Carolina Chamber Music Festival at the FMU Performance Arts Center (PAC), resulting in a full house on Wednesday, Feb. 27 and Friday, March 1.

The five-day event included three live performances and two lectures.  Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Paulo Gualdi said he was glad to see such a large turnout.  He explained that the concerts benefit students as well as the Florence community.

Gualdi said FMU music majors were involved in almost every aspect of the concert, including promotion, behind the scenes set-up and recording the event.  He explained that it is very important for students to go outside the class environment to see how things work in real life.

“Recording live in a full house is very important because the recorder has a responsibility and has to do it very well,” Gualdi said. “It is very different than doing a class project at your own pace.”

According to Gualdi, the opportunity would not have been possible without the RIO Program, which offers a few grants per year for faculty to develop a project that involves and is dedicated to students.

In terms of the festival, Gualdi said he found Wednesday’s performance, “From Blues to Tango,” very exciting to attend because of the diversity of music genres that were performed.

Shana Thompson, a Florence resident, said she also enjoyed “From Blues to Tango” and felt that attending the festival was a great opportunity.

“It is rare that I am able to experience classical music performed live on a Wednesday night; I usually only get to hear this caliber of music on weekends,” Thompson said.

Gualdi also commissioned Assistant Professor Brandon Goff to compose “Carolina Rock,” which was played live for the first time in front of an audience of 110 people.

Goff explained that he used a rhythm that created an energy which built until the very last note. Gualdi said the momentum of energy kept pumping before exploding at the end. Both agreed the audience’s positive reception was exactly what they had hoped for.

“When you play a piece, there is no going back. You just pour all of your energy into it right until the very end.” Gualdi said.

Goff said he gives the following advice to all his music students, regardless of the area they pursue:

“Figure out what you want to do in life and work hard to make it happen. Do not let anyone tell you that what you want to do is dead. You can be successful in whatever you want to do, especially if you do it with passion and love doing it. It never fails.”

Guest artists include Gualdi’s wife, Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi, violin and viola, of Serbia (UNC Wilmington) Cármelo de los Santos, violin, of Brazil (University of New Mexico), Marcos Machado, double bass, of Brazil (University of Southern Mississippi), Sinisa Ciric, viola, of Serbia (Georgia Perimeter College), Martin Gueorguiev, cello, of Bulgaria (Oxford College of Emory University), and Heidi Lucas, horn, of the United States (University of Southern Mississippi). Local artists include Dan Hull on guitar and Terry Roberts on horn.