Taking classical guitar and percussion to another level

The combination of classical guitar and percussion isn’t something you often see in musical performance, but “Mundus Canis: A Guitar and Percussion Concert” will be anything but ordinary.

Featuring guitarist Armin Abdihodžic and percussionist Eric Bleicher, the concert at UAA will showcase modern compositions by various composers ranging from guitar serenades to pieces that might challenge listeners’ preconceived notions of what classical guitar and percussion can do.

“It’s always fun to play a variety of pieces, because you get to always discover something new, something fresh,” Abdihodžic said.

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Percussionist Eric Bliecher rehearses for the upcoming show, “Mundus Canis.” Bliecher will be performing “Draws” by Iván Patachich with guitarist Armin Abdihodžic on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building at UAA. Photo credit: Young Kim

The concert is named after “Mundus Canis” a work by American composer George Crumb, which the duo will perform. “Mundus Canis” — or “A Dog’s World” — is a five-movement composition where the sections take on attributes of one of Crumb’s dogs, giving each movement its own tonal and rhythmic characteristics.

It’s a fitting title as every piece selected for the performance will demonstrate a unique take on guitar and percussion as well as the technical skill of the performers.

“It’ll be something very new,” Abdihodžic said.

Both he and Bleicher admit that some of the pieces might be challenging to the casual listener, but they’re not trying to scare anyone off.

“You don’t want to overwhelm the audience with a bunch of atonal music, so there’s some music [that’s] sort of eaiser to get and there’s some pieces that are really out there,” Abdihodžic said.

While Abdihodžic will be staying on guitar, Bleicher will be playing a variety of percussion instruments from snare drum and bongos to castanets and timpani, which is a logistical feat in and of itself.

The duo will be performing pieces that are not only musically challenging, but they’ll be using unusual techniques — notably Bleicher dipping a gong in a tub of water to change its tonal quality.

“What it does is it causes the vibrations off the gong to interact with the water and it actually bends the pitch that you hear. It’s super cool,” Bleicher said.

Both Abdihodžic and Bleicher are musicians following their passion. Abdihodžic fell in love with the guitar as a kid in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He eventually earned a doctorate of musical arts degree and has performed all over the world, both as a solo musician and in ensembles. He is currently an assistant professor of music at UAA and has earned numerous awards for his guitar playing.

Bleicher got his start playing drums in grade school and metal bands, but was eventually convinced to go to school and study music. Now he’s graduating this semester with a bachelor’s in music education and a separate degree in music performance. He hopes to eventually teach music at the university level.

In addition to Bleicher’s senior recital, this concert will be a culmination of everything he’s worked for so far, from excruciatingly close analysis of pieces of music to painstakingly fine-tuning his skills.

“The challenge of putting something together like this is the most rewarding thing,” Bleicher said.

The concert might not be what people would typically expect and the technicality could fly by unnoticed, but the duo wants to take listeners on a musical journey.

“Hopefully it’ll be rewarding for the audience and ultimately, that’s my goal, is to help people go somewhere,” Bleicher said.

The performance will take place on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the UAA Fine Arts Building.

Tickets are $9.99 for students, $14.99 for seniors and military and $19.99 for adults.