Radford professor performs in Portugal

Professor Robert Trent in Guimarãaes, Portugal.

Radford University Music Professor Robert Trent traveled to the birthplace of Portugal – Guimarãaes – to perform in a guitar festival inside the historic Castle of Guimarãaes.

Trent closed the festival when he performed a solo concert, at which he debuted new material.  

“Overall, I was pleased with my performance,” Trent said. “I played a lot of music new to me. Some of them were premieres there. The audience liked it, as I was called back for two encores. When you are playing something new, you have your own day-to-day experience with the music – you know it intimately. I learned something from the audience while I was performing.”

Trent said that it was beneficial to have feedback from the audience on music that he hadn’t yet performed live.    

“Until you’ve played music on a regular basis, it’s just a different experience,” Trent explained. “When you’ve performed something regularly, put it away and taken it out a couple years later, it’s a different experience. It’s like putting on a pair of worn-in jeans.”


The historic Castle of Guimarãaes.

Trent said that the meaning of a piece changes along with you.

“It’s like a book you’ve read but you want to go back and re-read it,” he explained. “If it was really a good book, you discover new things when you re-visit it. You don’t just find things you missed, but also an evolving meaning.

The meaning that Trent explained to the audience wasn’t easy to digested – his shortest piece was 10 minutes, with the longest piece lasting over 25 minutes.

“None of it was easy listening,” Trent said. “It’s pretty intense music to digest.”

Robert Trent works with a student during one of his master class sessions

In addition to the performance, Trent also taught master classes, which are akin to semi-private lessons, to musicians of all ages.

“The master classes were on whatever the student prepared,” Trent said. “Solo pieces on their guitars. It was all classical guitar compositions. So, whatever the students had prepared for me, they played. I didn’t know what they were doing in advance. They’d come in and play and we’d work on it together.”

Members of the public could sit in on the lessons.

“I encourage them to ask questions and I try to address and make it a little more than just a private lesson,” Trent said. “I enjoy master classes. It is spontaneous and with new people. I don’t know them or how they play until I hear them play. It’s refreshing.”

The guitar festival also had a competition featuring seven different age-based categories, comprised of children through adults.

“Each night had concerts and judging for the competition,” Trent said. “There is a large, modern arts complex located in Guimarãaes, and this is where the preliminary competition for each several level or age group took place. The finals of the adult/professional division, which I and other judges from around the world adjudicated, took place in the Castle of Guimarãaes.”

Trent judged the finals of the competition, which was whittled down to three participants.

“The level of play in the competition, particularly in the finals, was very high,” Trent said.

As Trent was leaving the festival, one of the organizers said to him, “You’ll be back next year, right?”

For more information on the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), visit its web page. For a detailed list of upcoming events in the CVPA, go to the event calendar.

Jan 18, 2017
Max Esterhuizen
(540) 831-7749