Whitney Hale


College: Fine Arts

UK Program Strumming its Way to Excellence

Published: Jun 18, 2013

UK Professor of Guitar Studies Dieter Hennings plays UK Fight Song

Dieter Hennings performs his arrangement of the "UK Fight Song," as requested by a former student. Video courtesy of artist.


LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 18, 2013) — Since the arrival of Dieter Hennings in 2009, the guitar program at the University of Kentucky School of Music has grown in leaps and bounds from one student enrolled in guitar classes to 19 undergraduate and graduate students. The major has even opened the door for novices to learn through the popular UK Core class "Beginning Classroom Guitar," which sees 480 students a year taking group guitar lessons and getting involved with the activities of UK Guitar Studies.


"The key to the success of our program is due in big part to our engagement with the university community at large not just offering lessons to music majors, but implementing courses that engage the entire university community in creative music making," said Hennings, director of UK Guitar Studies.


UK students wishing to concentrate on their talents in guitar can find both graduate and undergraduate programs of study, various performing prospects, and the opportunity to get to know and work with some of the world's most acclaimed instrumentalists.


Undergraduates majoring in music performance with a specialty in guitar at UK advance their talents while attaining a well-rounded education in music. Guitar performance students must demonstrate a proficiency in piano; take classical guitar classes; study music theory and conducting; and present a senior recital to get their degree. In addition to their guitar studies, students take classes in music history, attend recitals of other music performance students, and perform with a music ensemble.


Students can choose to hone their performance skills with a number of ensembles that call School of Music home and can even choose to audition to perform with one dedicated specifically to their instrument. The UK Guitar Ensemble performs music for solo guitar, multiple guitars and guitars with other instruments. The ensemble’s repertoire consists of music from different eras and countries, to even students' arrangements of pop and rock music. 


Outside the classroom and university performance venues, UK guitar students are finding several opportunities to showcase what they have learned. Last summer, freshman Joseph Douglass, of London, Ky., won the youth guitar competition at the University of Louisville. He is now gearing up to participate this summer at the International Guitar Festival of Cordoba in Spain, where he will take lessons from the most famous guitar duo in the world, the Assad Brothers. Doctoral candidate Ricardo Saeb, from Chihuahua, Mexico has kept an intense performing schedule while completing his studies with solo performances with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Chihuahua and at the Second Latin American Guitar Festival in Chicago, where he shared the stage with some of the best young guitarists of today.


UK Guitar Studies has become the guitar hub of the region where guitar instructors from around the area come and perfect their performing and teaching skills. Currently, graduate students Andrew Rhinehart and Brent Webster are guitar instructors at Indiana University Southeast and Murray State University respectively.


"Forging strong partnerships with the guitar programs around the state has been a fundamental part of our mission," Hennings said.


In addition, the UK International Guitar Series has literally put UK Guitar Studies on the map. The series has quickly become the most respected guitar series in the area having brought to the Singletary Center for the Arts stage and the Lexington community some of the best guitarists of the day and provided students with a chance to work with some of the world's biggest talents.


"We recently had Grammy-winner David Russell come back of the second year in a row. This is a privilege that very few schools around the country afford. Mr. Russell taught a four-hour master class to our students and played one of the best concerts, I have heard in my life," Hennings said.


Other noted guitarists who have visited campus are Paul Galbraith, Zoran Dukić, Jorge Caballero, Marcin Dylla, Les Frères Méduses, Tabajara Belo, Guiherme Vincens,

Nicholas Goluses and Paul O'Dette.


Much of the growth in UK's guitar program is credited to Hennings, who balances a busy schedule of classes for 19 guitar students while also continuing to tour. The artist's musical endeavors span from new music on guitar to early music for lute, baroque guitar and theorbo. He has recently performed with Grammy award-winning flutist Molly Barth, a founding member of eighth blackbird, at several acclaimed music schools and at March Music Monderne in Portland, Oregon. Hennings also toured Europe with concerts in Germany, Slovenia and Italy, where he also taught and played at the Conservatory of Matera. In April, the guitarist joined Alia Musica for the premiere of a new sextet by Eastman School of Music composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon.


To listen to one of Hennings' new music collaborations, play the video below of his performance of Juan Trigos' Ricercare No. 6 for guitar and chamber orchestra performed in Orlando, Fla. at the 2011 Accidental Music Festival.

Video courtesy of artist. 


This November, Hennings will perform in Mexico with the Symphonic Orchestra of the University of Guanajuato and he will travel to Thailand to perform and teach at Mahidol University in Bangkok.


Hennings is an active proponent of new music, particularly that of Latin America, having recently worked with composers Mario Davidovsky, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Juan Trigos and Zohn-Muldoon.  He has recently premiered works by composers Jake Bancks, Wes Matthews, John Aylward, Beth Wiemann, Hebert Vazquez, Luca Cori, Juan Trigos and Scott Worthington. Hennings has received grants from the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music and the Fondo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes to commission and premiere contemporary works for guitar.


Current recording projects for Hennings include an album of works by Silvius Leopold Weiss for baroque lute and the guitar works of Trigos and Luca Cori. Recently he collaborated in a recording project with singer Natalie Merchant and producer Anders Levin.


Hennings, has won several prestigious competitions including:  the 2008 Aaron Brock International Guitar Competition (Canada); 2005 Eastman Guitar Concerto Competition; the 2002 Villa de Petrer, Alicante International Competition (Spain); and the 2001 Portland Guitar Competition, among many others.


To hear a sampling of music performances by Hennings, check out the musician's website at http://henningsguitar.com/.


The award-winning UK School of Music in the UK College of Fine Arts has garnered national recognition for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, composition, theory and music history.




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716whitney.hale@uky.edu

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