Guitar festival takes students across the globe

Radford University students along with Music Professor Robert Trent (second from right).

Radford University students and faculty flew to Vietnam and Thailand in December to play in a series of guitar performances.

The trip was sponsored by Scholar-Citizen Initiative, Department of Music, the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the International Education Center.

The students are members of the honors guitar ensemble, a by-audition group. Nicholas Drennan, Will Krysiek, James Noel, Andrew Weed and C. Zach Wood made the trip, accompanied by Music Professor Robert Trent.

Each student was thankful for the opportunity to travel abroad and learn from fellow musicians.

“I had the opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia, to perform guitar and learn alongside fellow music students on the other side of the world,” Krysiek said. “While in Saigon, Vietnam, we collaborated on a large ensemble piece at the International Guitar Festival.”    

Wood echoed the same sentiment.

“I got to experience, as an undergraduate, what it is like to be a professional and play while traveling,” Wood said. “We had played these pieces often in the three months of preparation, but it felt more important and that we were on a bigger stage. I wanted to show the people there what we do in America, as well as what we do at Radford University.”

Part of each student’s goal while traveling in Asia was to observe and learn about the similarities and differences of music across cultures.

“I found that the study of classical music is very consistent in all cultures,” said Noel. “From self-practice, formal events and master classes the process of becoming a professional classical musician seems to be rooted in both eastern and western cultures equally.

“I had the honor to meet many musicians and learn about their cultural background as well as their modern methods to study classical music,” Noel added.


From left to right: C. Zach Wood, Andrew Weed, James Noel, Will Krysiek and Nicholas Drennan.

Krysiek observed devotion by both cultures to perfecting their craft.

“In speaking with them, observing them and watching them perform, I believe their devotion to their craft is unrivaled,” Krysiek said. “I remember in Thailand, passing a park bench several times per day on the university campus. Every time I passed by, the same guitarist was sitting there, practicing.” 

Even with the differences across cultures and languages, Wood and the rest of the Radford University students were to find a universal way to communicate to the other musicians.

“Hearing the differences in interpretations in one piece, and what is generally accepted as normal for that piece shows that music is the universal language,” Wood said. “I could speak to the other musicians on their experiences with guitar, music and more specifically, that piece. It was through this that I learned how high their expectations are for themselves and from their teachers.”

“The fact that I could collaborate and play music seamlessly alongside these foreign musicians, who speak a different verbal language than me, has changed and expanded my perspective of the world of classical music,” Krysiek added.

The experiences held by the students broadened their horizons.   

“I love the Vietnamese people and the culture there,” Wood said. “I loved the open, friendly and inviting presence that they all gave to us. It wasn’t like in America where we have icebreakers to break the awkwardness; they immediately took us in and had conversations with us like we were one of their best friends.”

Weed concisely summed up the experience when he said, “Touring was a wonderful, informative experience.”

For more information on the College of Visual and Performing Arts, visit their web page. To learn more about the Department of Music, go to its website.

To explore international education opportunities, visit the International Education Center’s web page. To learn more about the Scholar-Citizen Initiative at Radford University, go to its web site.

Jan 25, 2017
Max Esterhuizen
(540) 831-7749