‘Something for everyone’
$15 for students
Like many other guitarists, Ben Schenstead didn’t start on the classical guitar.
“I probably started with keyboards when I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old,” Schenstead said. “When I was 12 my older sister, who was an accomplished accordionist, bought me an electric guitar and an amplifier and I took to that quite naturally. I played rock music when I was a teenager, but I got into classical guitar when I was about 15.”
But lest you think Schenstead left his classic rock roots behind when he picked up the electric guitar, he will be bringing an amalgam of popular and classical musical styles to the first concert of the Regina Musical Club’s Sunday Afternoon Recital Series.
“There will be something for everyone on this program, I think. Most of the music I’m going to be playing is accessible to a wide audience, a general audience,” Schenstead said. “There will even be an arrangement of Freddy Mercury’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’”
Though Schenstead first picked up his classical guitar when he was 15, it wasn’t until he was 18 that he really started getting serious about the instrument. It wasn’t until after he had spent seven years on the railroad right out of high school that he decided to pursue music as a career.
“I had decided at some point that I wasn’t willing to spend the rest of my life in blue collar,” Schenstead said. “So I decided to go to university. Music seemed to be the best fit at the time.”
Schenstead went on to receive his bachelor of music from the University of Saskatchewan, and after teaching in high schools and in private sessions, moved on to teaching at the post-secondary level, teaching courses at the University of Regina, First Nations’ University of Canada, and the U of S.
After performing in a recital for the U of R faculty of fine arts, Schenstead was invited to play for the Regina Musical Club, an organization dedicated to bringing important and talented musicians to Regina.
“They feature an array of musicians from various places in Canada. It includes piano, organ, various instruments. It changes from year to year,” Schenstead said. “This year it so happens that I have the privilege of contributing to the series.”
Schenstead’s contribution to the series will focus on showcasing two markedly different styles of music: Latin American and baroque.
“There [are] two things that are enjoyable about Latin American music,” Schenstead said.
“One thing is the rhythm … A lot of [Latin American pieces] are fast-paced dances where the beats are stressed and so on. But there’s also expressive mood music in Latin American music.
“The baroque music I also enjoy … It’s more measured, more stately, more structured in some ways, and I enjoy that aesthetic. But it’s a different aesthetic.”
Schenstead will be putting his own spin on these styles of music, in an attempt to not only make the pieces his own, but to illuminate connections between the two styles.
“What I try to do, as many artists do, they will try to bring something authentic to the performance, something of their own,” Schenstead said. “So, hopefully, audience members will go away feeling that I’ve not only heard a range of music, but that there’s some connection between the pieces as well musically and in the interpretation of them.”
And when many students are in the midst of wrapping up their semesters, Schenstead hopes that his approach to music will relieve the stress of the students who attend his show.
“I believe music has not only an entertaining aspect, but it can make us feel better, it can alleviate stress,” he said. “So I’m hoping that through sharing my music it will contribute to making people feel better about their day and bring some enjoyment.”