The first ever classical guitar concert in Soldotna gave credence to the theory that multi-universes may be connected at the primary level of creation by micro-atomic string particles. Those fortunate enough to attend the capacity performance at the Lutheran Church in Soldotna seemingly became one with the musical intonations of Valerie Hartzell’s classical guitar and were transported to places they had never before experienced. “My eyes were open but I would have sworn that there were two guitarists playing, when I closed my eyes tears ran down my cheeks. I’ve never heard so much music come from on acoustic instrument,” commented an attendee. Valerie Hartzell has been playing guitar since she was two, “My mother was a classical guitarist who studied in Paris and met my dad, married and moved to the U.S. and had me when she was studying at the New England Conservatory in Boston and I grew up sitting at her feet listening to her play classical guitar. My mom says she ordered a guitar from the famous Jose Ramirez in Spain before he retired and told him that her daughter was begging to play guitar and while she was going to get basically a toy guitar he said, no I’ll make her one and make it tough so she can beat it up. So he made me a half size Ramirez and when my mom gave it to me I started imitating her and pretend I was playing, then she would come over and show me something but I’d go back to strumming and banging away but little by little I began to learn and by age three I was sight reading music and finger style picking. But its taken hundreds and thousands of hours of sweat and work to be able to play as I do today,” Hartzell told the Dispatch in an interview before her concert.
In addition to the Friday evening concert she performed free concerts at several area schools, “People have exposed to classical violin and piano but for many of the students this was their first experience with live classical guitar and I couldn’t believe how excited they were, especially the elementary school kids who had tons of questions and were like, ‘Wow! That is so cool! And even in the high schools which can be a tough crowd for classical music, they were totally receptive and I feel if I can get just one student to go home and want to learn and hear the classical guitar then I have done my job and so appreciate Maria Allison and the Performing Arts Society for giving me this opportunity,” she said. Hartzell has also performed as a guest soloist for the New York City Classical Guitar Society and at highly esteemed concert locations around the world and currently lives in Bedford, Bedfordshire, UK. Her CD “Ex Tenebris…Lux” was released in 2011 and her second with Presti was released in September of 2013 and can be purchased on line. Hartzell said she appreciated the warm welcome and venue provided by the Performing Arts Society and promised to return.