Texas Tech University

School of Music Hosts Electric Guitar Conference

State of Texas and Texas Tech University

October 4, 2018

The conference will feature the latest research on the instrument and performances.

The Electric Guitar in American Culture Conference & Concerts

The Texas Tech University School of Music, housed within the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts (TCVPA), will host the Electric Guitar in American Culture conference in Lubbock from Oct. 12-14.

The conference will feature the latest research on the world's most popular musical instrument, as well as panels, concerts, an exhibit hall and a tour of the Buddy Holly Center.

Roger Landes, instructor in the School of Music, said this is the third conference of its kind and showcases the scholarly works related to the electric guitar.

But, even though it is an academic conference, the arts community in Lubbock has collaborated for the conference to showcase the instrument, Landes said.

“We think it makes a lot of sense to host this conference in Buddy Holly's hometown,” Landes said, “and to collaborate with other arts organizations such as the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (LHUCA) and the Buddy Holly Center.”

D. J. Sparr, instructor of composition in the School of Music, said the city's music history is why it is important for Lubbock to host the conference.

“Lubbock is really big in the guitar world, and the guitar is such an important part of the history of music-making in Lubbock,” Sparr said. “Lots of guitarists who get their start in Lubbock go out into the world and do big things, from all the Lubbock artists in country music, all the way back to Buddy Holly.”

Along with faculty in the School of Music, faculty from other colleges around Texas Tech are participating in the conference as well. Robert Peaslee, associate professor and chair of the departments of journalism and creative media industries in the College of Media & Communication, said this conference is another in a string of interdisciplinary, cross-college collaborations of which he has been a part.

“This conference offers a rare opportunity for people from all over the country to celebrate and focus upon the electric guitar in American culture,” Peaslee said. “It is unique, I think, in utilizing a location so deeply connected to that relationship through the iconic pairing of Buddy Holly and his Fender Stratocaster. People should come out to hear from some of the world's leading academic and industry voices, while also being treated to some pretty excellent guitar performances.”

The conference will open Oct. 12 with graduate students presenting research papers in several themed panels. LHUCA will host the “Lubbock Guitarslingers” concert at 7 p.m. on its plaza, featuring the best of Lubbock's professional electric guitarists.

The conference continues Oct. 13 with faculty research presentations during the day and will feature a keynote address by Steve Waksman, who is the Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Professor of American Studies at Smith College, author of “Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience” and one of the founding scholars of the emerging field of Guitar Studies.

The concert at 8 p.m. Oct. 13 in Hemmle Recital Hall will feature two guest artists. Sparr will perform the Lubbock premiere of Steve Reich's “Electric Counterpoint.” That piece will be followed by the continuing southwest premiere of “Katrina,” Sparr's concerto for electric guitar and orchestra, featuring New Orleans jazz guitarist Ted Ludwig as a soloist, and the University Symphony Orchestra conducted by Philip Mann, director of orchestral studies and professor of practice in the School of Music.

The second half of the concert will feature surf guitarist Dave Wronski performing his original compositions in a trio with Lubbock musicians Jonathan Smither on bass and Brian Tate on drums. The concert will conclude with a collection of surf-guitar-plus-orchestra renditions of TV/film themes by Wronski and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, conducted by Sarah McKoin, director of bands and professor of music in the School of Music.

The conference will move to the Buddy Holly Center on Oct. 14 for a tour followed by brunch.

Admission for the general public is $35 for the weekend and $10 for students with their student ID. The exhibit hall and the evening concerts are free and open to the public.

The conference is presented by the Vernacular Music Center, the Buddy Holly Center, LHUCA, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Provost's Creative Process Commons and TCVPA.