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Guitar quartet brings old, new music to Sheldon

The foursome will perform at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Sheldon Theatre. It will be the group’s Red Wing debut.

“We very much look forward to that,” said Joseph Hagedorn, who was a founding member when the quartet formed in 1986.

The original four all were associated with the University of Minnesota, he said — three were still students. Shortly after graduating, he came to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where he continues to teach guitar-related classes including one for beginners.

At UWRF he also has two-, three- and four-member guitar ensembles and he teaches one-on-one lessons locally.

Each of the four current members of the quartet brings a unique skill and perspective. Two are composers, and he has done most of the arranging for the past 30-plus years. However, Hagedorn said, “It’s kind of a group effort. Everyone has input into (a number) when we are finalizing it.”

Sometimes, he added, he tests out new pieces with UWRF students, getting their input as they learn the music together before he takes it to the quartet.

The other members of the foursome are Serbian-born Maja Radovanlija, an international solo and chamber musician and member of the U of M music faculty; Benjamin Kunkel, performer, advocate of new music and faculty member at Century College and St. Joseph’s School of Music; and Wade Oden, an international music and new works composer who directs the guitar program at Normandale Community College.

New music

The guitar quartet is an unusual type of ensemble, Hagedorn said. “There never was such a thing until around the 1960s,” so no music was written for the guitar quartet before that time.

The Romeros, a father and three sons from Spain, pioneered the format after emigrating to the United States.

As a result of that short history, “To get a good variety of music, guitar quartets

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