LA Guitar Quartet performs in Coralville


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Bill Kanengiser's first performance was an impromptu solo show. When he was 4 or 5 years old, the now-professional guitarist played a rudimentary bass built by his father from a cigar box, a broom, and four rubber bands.

Kanengiser and the three other guitarists who make up the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet will perform at 7:30 p.m. March 6 at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth St. Hancher will present the performance; admission is $35 for nonstudents, $10 for college students, $31.50 for senior citizens, and $17.50 for youths.

"[Guitar] is the only instrument I've ever played," Kanengiser said. "A lot of the music I grew up with at the time, folk music and early rock 'n' roll, always featured the instrument. It always seemed like the coolest."

Today, Kanengiser teaches the instrument at the University of Southern California's Thorton School of Music and travels around the world performing solo and with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet.

The group is known for its virtuosic live performances and recorded works, including Guitar Heroes, which earned a Grammy in 2005 for best Classical Crossover album.

"The guitar is a chameleon instrument," Kanengiser said. "It can do so many styles and sounds, and we try not to limit ourselves."

The quartet's programs are a mix of many genres and playing styles, he said. The group performs African-influenced pieces, aggressive rock 'n' roll contemporary music, traditional classical music, and jazz tunes by Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

"We want to show a balance of familiar and new," he said. "A balance of traditional and contemporary. We want to show different moods. Lyrical, quiet, beautiful moments, contrasted with exciting and aggressive moments. The guitar has a wide range of not just volume and tone but also emotion."

John Dearman, who plays a seven-string guitar in the quartet, says that after 30 years, the group's performances are certain to please a crowd.

"We just go where our instincts lead us, and the results speak for themselves," he said. "We don't have fancy lighting or tricked-out costumes. Part of the success of our group, aside from our musicianship, is that we've always had a chemistry that makes us work really well together."

When they aren't performing together, all four members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet teach their art at universities in California.

"I am very dedicated to my teaching," Kanengiser said. "I believe very much in the future of the guitar."

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