Classical Guitarist Alumni Couple Reaches Another Creative Milestone
“I never knew the guitar could be played like that. Not until I met Fernand.”
Both classical guitarists, Olga Amelkina-Vera ’00, from Belarus, and Fernand Vera ’99, from Sugar Land, met when they were music majors at the University of St. Thomas-Houston. He was so shy; it took a third party to bring the two together.
Fernand recalls with a smile, “Honestly, I’d been wanting to meet her for a while. Then, I was in the hallway, and, just like that, a faculty member introduced us.”
20 Years of Flourishing as Classical Guitarists
Two decades later, they continue making music and have also produced a talented, musical daughter, 6-year-old Nina Brigitte. She is already learning guitar and piano.
Music remains the couple’s deeply shared passion. Both earned doctorates in music performance. Each is a full-time music professor at Collin College in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area: Olga teaches at the new Wylie campus and Fernand at Plano. The two are as passionate about creating and performing music as ever, forming the Kithara Duo in 2002. As it should be, their talents are ever-evolving, and their work and reputations have grown.
Reviews of their first two albums were brimming with appreciation: “beautiful sound,” “seamless level of musicality and technique,” “perfect blend of artistic refinement,” [the duo] “wove a dreamy spell,” “wonderful uniformity of articulation and phrasing.”
Artists Always Pushing Their Boundaries
But there is always new ground to break for artists.
“Over the years, Olga has become increasingly inspired to compose,” Fernand said with admiration.
“Composing has taken on more and more of my time,” said Olga. “I’m getting commissions. Getting booked around the country. It’s busy!”
She describes the music she writes as very eclectic with lots of influences, melodic, with asymmetrical time signatures and driving rhythms.
“I try to do something different with every piece,” she said.
Fernand has also tapped into his creative side by reinventing himself as an electronic musician under the nom de plume Monsieur Glize. He has released a full album, “Dappled Shade,” in 2020 and has followed with five singles since then.
The Milestone: “Ka Ao”
Their just-released third album, “Ka Ao,” marks an exciting milestone in their careers. It exclusively features Olga’s recent works for guitar performed by Kithara Duo and a stellar line-up of seven artists, including a clarinetist.
Especially Fond Memories of Their Alma Mater
Both Olga and Fernand have very fond memories from their time at UST.
Olga said, “It was at UST that I discovered classical guitar and decided to major in music. I thrived in that small, intimate environment where my professors were so accessible. I loved the professors and enjoyed the academic rigor.”
Fernand offered, “I was very fortunate that the school was small. For the first couple of years, I was the only guitar student, and having come from rock, I was very new to playing classical. Dr. Ann Fairbanks showed so much patience and provided so much encouragement to see me grow in the process. I just loved it there. Tom Borling for music theory was brilliant. I think about my classes there all the time, and this has inspired me to stay active and driven in my field.”
Not-to-Be-Missed Musical Performers
Staying active and driven seems to come naturally for these two.
To keep up with these inspiring musicians, check out their websites or follow them:
Instagram: @olgaamelkinavera, @kitharaduo, @monsieurglize
As American Record Guide reviewed: “This is state-of-the-art duo playing. If you haven’t discovered them, you should.”