*This article was originally published in The Runner on March 10, 2017*
The 20th annual Fraser Valley Acoustic Guitar Festival, which is the largest festival of its kind in Canada, was hosted on KPU’s Langley campus on Feb. 25.
The event’s feature performance showcased three different finger-style guitar players, American headliner Michael Chapdelaine, Israeli world music guitarist Itamar Erez, and local guitarist Kris Schulz.
“I don’t remember not playing music,” says Schulz, whose parents were both musicians. He says that, when asked about his own songwriting, “the songs that mean the most definitely come from the most emotional places.”
He describes the guitar as a “texturally satisfying instrument,” and says that his love for the guitar, especially finger-style acoustic, comes from the fact that “the music is literally vibrating in your fingers.” While Schulz notes that he loves the electric guitar as well, he feels that the acoustic instrument has an organic feeling associated with it that cannot be replicated.
Throughout the night, Erez played multiple different styles of classical guitar. His set was diverse, featuring everything from a lullaby he wrote for his son, to a love song he wrote based on a friend’s story, to a song bordering on flamenco-style classical guitar.
Michael Chapdelaine, who won the National Fingerpicking Championship and the International Classical Guitar competition, excels with classical nylon-stringed guitars, and has put a spin on many well-known songs with his own interesting arrangements.
This was not Chapdelaine’s first time at the Fraser Valley Acoustic Guitar Festival, as he had performed at the event about 10 years earlier. Festival founder and Chair of the Music Department at KPU Don Hlus said, at the beginning of the night, that he usually refrains from inviting artists back to perform a second time in order to bring attention to a variety of musicians, but that he just had to have Chapdelaine return.
Chapdelaine started off the night with a unique cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together”. He continued to rearrange well-known tunes throughout the evening to fit his style of guitar playing, while throwing the occasional original tune into the mix. One was a song he had written about being out for dinner with his family back home.
KPU music students Robert Crews, Kyle McEwan, and Lucas McKinnon also performed a series of short pieces during the intermission, showcasing the talent of the KPU’s Music Department. Schulz, a graduate of the program, offered this advice to the students:
“I think with so many options out there—and I understand in going through a music program you do have to complete your assignments and whatnot—the bigger picture is your personal snap, your soul, and really trusting your heart with what you love about music. Because when you’re learning it there are a lot of routes you can take.”
“There’s this core pull,” he adds. “If you listen carefully, you’ll find what it is you’re supposed to be doing, and no matter what anyone else says, that will get you the farthest.”