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Sam Ortiz brings classical guitar to Swan Brewing

Hello, here's an article that was made for my performance at the Swan Brewing in Lakeland, FL. It was released on "The Ledger" on August 16th, 2018. Please enjoy!



By day, Sam Ortiz teaches and conducts McLaughlin Middle School & Fine Arts Academy’s guitar program for students in grades six through eight. By night, he performs across Polk County, showcasing a repertoire of classical guitar music, Latin-influenced songs and originals.

From 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 16, Ortiz takes to the Swan Brewing outdoor stage, highlighting his recent album “Nuances,” released May 1.

Ortiz is a native of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico who began playing guitar when he was 13 years old and was once the guitar instructor for the Professional Studies and Continuing Education Department at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez.

He’ll play three 40- to 45-minute sets. During those, he said, two songs he’ll perform will be the Puerto Rican National Anthem, “La Borinqueña,” and a national folk song, “El CoquÍ (the frog).”

“Nuances,” includes Brazilian-influenced jazz and contemporary classical songs. In addition, he’ll play “Chanson Trilce (Sad Song),” a 2016 hit by guitarist Laurent Boutros.

Other songs Ortiz said he plans to cover include The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” and Latin American pieces including the traditional folk tune “Pica Pica” and JoseÍto Fernández’s 1929 patriotic Cuban anthem “Guantanamera.”

“I’m excited about being able to present this music to the public. I play everything in classical guitar arrangements; they will all be played on a nylon-string guitar using classical guitar technique,” he said.

Ortiz said some of his set will consist of songs from his 2015 album “Initium,” which has a collection of popular Spanish and Latin American guitar songs, progressing to the De Falla piece with its dramatic “rasgueado” finger-strumming technique and culminating with a selection of chamber pieces.

“I’ll be playing a mix of everything. I’m very excited about bringing classical music to a venue where you don’t normally hear that type of music,” he said.

Becky Abel, who books the music and food trucks for Swan Brewing, said a lot of the pub’s music consists of popular American rock, country and pop songs but she wanted to give its lineup more of a musically diverse flare by giving Ortiz a spot in the lineup. She said she hopes his appearance will help broaden Swan Brewing’s music programming.

“I was looking for something off the beaten track, something a bit more ethnic, not folksy or bluegrass,” she said. “We want to attract people that care about a lot of different types of music. I was happy he approached me because we’re trying to broaden the types of music we present.”

Ortiz wants his Swan Brewing audience to enjoy the versatility of his classical guitar show. It’s not just an instrument for playing works by classical guitar composers and players such as Fernando Sor, Mauro Giulani or Andres Segovia.

“I’ll be presenting classical but I want to show the variety of genres that can also be played on classical guitar,” he said. “I try to accomplish with my performances getting people to appreciate the art of the guitar and possibly getting into playing guitar themselves.”

Paul Catala can be reached at or 863-802-7533. He can be reached at Twitter @pcat0226.

If you go

WHAT: Sam Ortiz, classical guitarist WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 16 WHERE: Swan Brewing, 115 W. Pine St., Lakeland COST: Free INFO: 863-703-0472;

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