On Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 pm Western Carolina University’s School of Music hosted Fred Hamilton, guitarist and composer, to perform at the Recital Hall in Coulter.
According to the program pamphlet, Hamilton was a former educator of undergraduate and graduate jazz improvisation from 1989-2017 at the University of North Texas (UNT). Hamilton was a guitarist and arranger for the NORAD Band during his time in the Air Force stationed in Colorado Springs.
Since retiring, he’s been traveling and performing at different concerts and gigs, including various universities.
Hamilton had fellow musicians in helping him perform, including one of his former students, Dr. Chris Beyt on guitar. Also on stage were Pavel Wlosok on piano, Zach Page on bass, and Micah Thomas on drums.
The show opened with an original composition by Hamilton called “Designated Simplicity.” After the song was over, Hamilton spoke to the audience and dedicated the show to a former student at UNT that had passed away the day before. The set resumed with the composition titled “Black Beans, Tofu and Hot Sauce.”
Dr. Beyt got to show off his skills, performing an original called “Hindsight.”
Other compositions included “All Things Are New,” “Remembering Greece,” “Hymn” and concluding with “Manitou Inclined.”
After the show, students reacted to the performance. Vito Bell, a music and Spanish major, said the show “was really, really awesome.” Bell hadn’t heard of Hamilton before, but he was aware of the university Hamilton taught at and was currently in a class with Dr. Beyt.
Nicholas Baker said the performance was “really cool. I went to the guest artist give a master class earlier on today and he explained some of the things about his songs so actually getting to see the songs that he talked about being performed made it a lot different than if I hadn’t heard him explain it before.”
Taylor Smith said, “I thought it was cool, it’s very different from what I usually watch here, but the whole rhythm thing is really cool, really new to me, so it was interesting to see.” Smith is a sonography major and used to the brass recitals.
Hannah McCall also chimed in is saying the musicality was cool and it was impressive how they pulled off the set.
Dr. Beyt gave talked about how the show came to life. Hamilton was a guest artist funded through the school of music. During the day, Hamilton taught a few classes before having a quick rehearsal and soundcheck.
Although Dr. Beyt might be a professor, his passion is music. “It was a passion that grew.” Dr. Beyt says he tells his students to follow that passion and to not let anyone stop it.
Hamilton spoke about the shock of knowing a former student from UNT had passed. He talked about the impact students have on him as an educator. He said, “when you teach people, they have things to share that is part of the process. It’s not just giving out information. It’s me getting to experience my students.” He added that he’d got former students playing in bands across the country.
He spoke about choosing to perform over educating because “that’s why I actually got into music. The whole time that I taught I was performing . . . teaching is great but there’s nothing better than sitting with musicians and getting a chance to really show life in a musical environment.”
Hamilton spoke about his favorite compositions. “’All Things Are New’ – is a very special composition that I always feel really great about when I get a chance to play with people . . . and ‘Manitou Inclined’ I wrote in 1973 and I’ve been playing it for a long time,” he says.
Visit the School of Music’s website to view upcoming events and recitals.