Guitar instructor releases groundbreaking album
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
Throughout all his formal music study, Grand Canyon University guitar instructor Dr. David Sewell had never been taught about Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre.
Even though she was the first woman to compose an opera in France in the 1600s and 1700s, her musical contributions are relatively unknown.
It was something that didn’t sit well with Sewell.
“Not one thing was mentioned about her, and I received a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts degree),” he said. “I think that’s weird.
“When I discovered her music and her accomplishments, I thought that was very strange that she was never mentioned.”
Sewell wanted to help change that.
In his new album, “Coalesco: Harpsichord Music for Guitar,” which came out earlier this semester, Sewell arranged original harpsichord arrangements by Jacquet de La Guerre and Domenico Scarlatti for the guitar. He believes these are the first recordings of Jacquet de La Guerre’s work arranged for the guitar.
It’s all part of Sewell’s efforts to bring her music into the spotlight.
“I’m hoping these arrangements give her music new audiences,” he said. “They’re really great pieces. It’s a lot of old music presented new.”
In making her music and story more easily accessible for his students and other listeners, he hopes it can inspire people to continue to work toward their dreams despite adversity.
“It’s always cool when you see someone or if you can hear a story about someone overcoming social constraints or adversity and absolutely killing it,” Sewell said. “She was extremely successful despite all these things, and I think that’s important for people to know.
“For whatever doubt you have about yourself or what things might be standing in your way, it’s very motivating.”
The album, which includes 11 songs, was recorded at the GCU Recording Studio by its coordinator, John McJunkin. It is available for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and YouTube Music.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].