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ISSUE 117 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/19/2004

Grand return for Gulezian

By Lisa Gulya
Staff Writer

Friday, March 19, 2004

Nearly 500 people filled the Pause Saturday night to experience the artistry and quirkiness of Michael Gulezian. Not only did Gulezian perform his traditional concert, he also offered a guitar workshop on Thursday night and brought yet another gift to St. Olaf this year: a multimedia CD that he recorded live at last year's concert, complete with video footage.

Gulezian feels a special attachment to the college. "I never take [this artsy college] for granted," he said.

Gulezian commented that playing at a college year after year is not assured for any artist, since the quick turnover of the student body can lead to shifts in musical tastes on campus.

Nearly half of the audience members on Saturday were new listeners, according to Gulezians polling. He also discovered that a large chunk of the listeners were fellow guitarists. Gulezian singled out Bobby Klein 04, who he met at the guitar workshop, as a particularly gifted artist.

Gulezian is apt to sound nearly gushy when talking about St. Olaf, both one-on-one and onstage. He cited the schools emphasis on character development and its musical focus as reasons for the rapport he has with students. "So many people have become really dear friends," he said. Before the concert, Gulezian even mentioned that he and his wife Dianne incorporated music from a St. Olaf student into their wedding.

Gulezian said he appreciates the high level of musicality among the student body, which allows many of his listeners to appreciate the artistry it requires for him to compose and perform. Many students can appreciate his complex meters and key changes. Others, unencumbered by music theory knowledge, can simply revel in the experience.

Gulezian inquired about several students during the concert, and was dismayed to hear that many of them had graduated. However, there were still enough returning audience members left for him to do a recreation of last years "Lutefisk Song" with Shenandoah Sowash 04, Rachel Winter 04 and Jill Zaspel 04 humming in the background.

Gulezian tried to include those audience interactions on his live CD, deliberately incorporating "very goofy" video footage. He explained that because he plays serious music, it is difficult to picture him as a "bundle of twisted humor" just by listening.

Gulezian's music, humor and complete comfort onstage drew the audience in. When preparing to play "Mile High Country," Gulezian demonstrated his mastery of the "talk and tune" interlude that every guitarist faces. His candor, both in his music and conversation, was refreshing.

Gulezian performed an intense set that lasted nearly three hours without a break. He played some familiar tunes  "Little Meggie," "Im No Seismologist, Chortled the Metronome" and the infamous "Room of Doom." He also gave the audience a break from his passionate playing to spoof Bruce Springsteens "Im on Fire."

Gulezian's music was complex, requiring more from the listeners than any three-chord pop song. By the end of the night, Gulezian was not the only exhausted one in the room. However, his outpouring of music, energy and praise of St. Olaf and its students, as well as the audiences enthusiastic response, foretell a warm welcome for Gulezian the next time he chooses to venture on campus.

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