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Classical guitarist Cote highlights community arts event for ProMuscia
Classical guitarist Alejandro Saladin Cote will perform as part of the ProMusica concert series on Sunday. - photo by For The Times

ProMusica Concert Series
Featuring classical guitarist Alejandro Saladin Cote
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, 3650 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville
How much: $15; students free
More info: 770-531-7776

Alejandro Saladin Cote picked up a guitar at age 11 with dreams of being a rock ’n’ roll star.

Within five years, though, the fascination of being in a rock band wore off; instead, he pushed his talent farther, learning to play classical guitar tunes.

Today, the native of Curaco, a small island near Antigua off the coast of Venezuela, lives in New York City and tours the world playing romantic classical and Spanish-
influenced pieces on the guitar. Gainesville will be graced by his music this Sunday afternoon, as Cote performs the second of three ProMusica concerts at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Gainesville.

The concert will feature art and performances by students at McEver Elementary School, expanding the concert into a community event that’s also a celebration of cultures.

Mike Henry, vice president of Gainesville ProMusica, said the organization paired with McEver in order to make the concert experience a family and community event. ProMusica is a "partner in education" with McEver, he said, with McEver supporting the only string instrument program among Hall County and Gainesville schools.

On Sunday, the church will be filled with student artwork, and Cote will be preceded by a performance of the McEver Elementary chorus. The location of the concert is to help capitalize on the McEver Road community, Henry added, and to help emphasize arts in the classroom.

Cote said he started his musical journey on the violin, but soon switched to the guitar. It helped that his mother also played the instrument, so there was always one in the house. But specifically, he recalled, "I really wanted to play because there was a teacher in my school who had a rock band."

"I just wanted to play guitar; I thought it was so cool," he added. "I started with my friends learning some chords, then I had a band that led to classical music. I kept pushing myself."

Today Cote continues to push his work on classical guitar, attending master classes with some of the best classical guitarists in the world. He said he’s looking forward to enhancing the educational aspect of ProMusica during his stay in Gainesville this weekend.

From 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, for example, he will be performing a children’s concert at Interactive Neighborhood for Kids in Gainesville. And on Sunday, Cote said he will take time during the concert to explain his song choices and special points of interest about the music he’s playing.

"I’ll just talk to the kids or the audience members a little bit about the pieces," he said. "I don’t know the kind of audience; I’m assuming there will be a big mix — some who know (about classical music) and some who don’t know, so I’m going to be talking about the pieces I’m going to be playing."

Often people don’t know what to make of classical music, he said, and even those who are familiar with it don’t always enjoy particular pieces. That’s why, he said, he selected a range of classical guitar compositions that will appeal to a range of listeners.

"It’s basically full of beautiful melodies, and I’m doing some Spanish music, which is almost immediately recognizable," he said. "It’s got a big mix of things. It’s pretty cool, I think."

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