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Ready Now: Lakeland Guitarist Samuel Ortiz Releases His First Album

This is an article a local newspaper, "The Ledger" did about me the day before my CD Release Concert.

Source: Enjoy!

LAKELAND | Samuel Ortiz picked up a guitar for the first time when he was 13 years old. He was not very enthusiastic about the gift from his father, but as time went by he was surprised to discover he had developed a passion for the instrument.

Saturday, the 34-year-old musician will perform at the release concert for his new album "Initium."

Originally from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Ortiz moved to Lakeland after graduating from the University of South Florida with a master's degree in music education.

"Most of my guitar friends were making albums back when we were in college," Ortiz said. "Back then, I didn't feel that I was ready but a couple years ago I was like, ‘I've been putting a lot of work in lately, I'm thinking I'm ready.' I always wanted to do this." The Medulla Elementary School music teacher recorded a 13-track classical guitar album last summer.

Robert Phillips, a guitar teacher at the Harrison School for the Performing Arts, produced the album. Ortiz also works as an adjunct guitar instructor at Harrison.

"I think he's got a really good album there," Phillips said. "I think he's done a fine job of taking some important standards from the repertoire, the real chestnuts that people enjoy listening to, and giving them a good, solid interpretation."

Phillips has recorded three classical guitar albums but this was his first time on the other side of the glass. "The recording process was interesting, to say the very least. I've done this before. It was my first time as a producer but I've done it before as an artist. It was a learning experience for both of us. Samuel has not worked with a producer before."

The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Carlton Music Center, 1902 Harden Blvd., in Lakeland.

Store Manager Joe Gavin met Ortiz when he first visited the store after moving to Lakeland in 2007. Gavin said he is excited to host Ortiz's album release concert.

"I listened to (Ortiz's album) while cooking dinner," Gavin said. "My wife and daughters weren't home so I played it really loud. It's a great album, I think. The playing is superb, the tone is excellent and the song choices are great."

Fifty to 100 people are expected to attend the concert but the Lakeland music store can seat up to 120 once the floor is cleared of instruments and sheet music displays.

"Initium" is available on iTunes for $9.99 and can also be purchased after the concert Saturday. But Ortiz is not in it for the money.

Phillips said classical music albums are rarely financially successful but aid in gaining more work and private students.

"In the music industry, particularly in the classical music industry and even more in the classical guitar portion of it, one doesn't make money on recordings," Phillips said. "A lot of artists view them as an expensive business card, a piece of credibility. You try to recoup as much of your costs as you can, but the goal is not necessarily financial, the goal is artistic."

Ortiz is already looking forward to the next album.

"Hopefully, in the near future, I can start working again on another album and bring out some more classical guitar," he said.

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