Artist of the Issue: Anna Pimentel

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Courtesy of Anna Pimentel ’21

 

There are few who can overlook the stage presence Anna Pimentel ’21 has whenever she performs. At Open Mics, Jazz ensemble performances, and postludes, Anna always delivers no matter what part she plays on her guitar. Talented as a soloist and accompanist, she is a musician just as versatile as the instrument she plays. 

 

Why the guitar? What made it speak to you?

 

I started to play the guitar when I was eight. My uncle plays the guitar, so once when he was playing, I picked up one of his guitars and tried to strum along, and that’s really how I got started. I also play bass, guitar, and flute, but one thing that I love about the guitar is just how versatile it is; I can play anything, and it’s an instrument that can either be played in an ensemble or by yourself.

 

How did you begin your musical journey at Groton? What was your musical background before you came to Groton?

 

Before coming to Groton, I mostly played classical rock songs as a solo guitarist. When I joined the Jazz ensemble at Groton, I didn’t know how playing Jazz on guitar worked. So, during my time at Groton, I went through a process of relearning my instrument. Through this, I discovered new ways to play the guitar and broadened my understanding of it.

 

I am incredibly thankful for Kenji and Greg, my guitar teacher. They really helped me along my musical journey. And really, I just tried my best to play at every opportunity I had.

 

Which ensembles are you currently in? Which one is your favorite?

 

I’m part of the Jazz Combo, Jazz Ensemble, and The Guitar Project (a group of guitarists that Greg brought together– we often play Blues pieces together sitting in a circle). 

 

Out of the three, my favorite would be Jazz Combo. Especially this year due to Covid, I had many more opportunities to perform with Jazz Combo since the Jazz Ensemble wasn’t able to play. Without wind instruments in Jazz Combo, I had a much bigger role as a guitarist. When we performed, I played the melody, which is a very different role from what I usually play. For example, in Jazz Ensemble, I would typically comp with Josh Guo [‘20] who played the piano. Comping is when I have the chords to the piece that we’re playing, and I would come up with whatever the vibe was to set the groove of the song.

 

What is your favorite moment at Groton, music-wise?

 

My favorite moment would be the second Jazz Ensemble rehearsal in Fourth Form when we were playing “The Jazz Police” by Gordon Goodwin. There’s a big guitar solo at the beginning of the piece, and overnight, I had learned the solo by myself and when I played it for Kenji, he said “I like her, I wanna keep her,” and that was a really great moment for me.

 

Other moments that I enjoyed would be performing at the Hard Rock Cafe; really, any performance opportunity is my favorite.

 

You’ve performed at numerous Open Mics, postludes, and concerts; how do you think these opportunities have contributed to your experience as an artist?

 

There’s a very big difference between playing alone in your room than playing in front of an audience. When you’re performing, you’re being vulnerable in front of people. If you mess up, everyone will hear, and that is something that helped me grow as a musician. At first, I was really nervous whenever I performed. Parent’s Weekend in Fourth Form was terrible. Performing is all about interacting with the audience and playing for the audience. Because I’ve come to enjoy that, performing is now my favorite thing to do.

 

Lastly, what are some words of wisdom that you would give to aspiring Grotonians hoping to step up their music game?

 

When you’re performing, pick a challenging song you don’t yet know how to play. I know that I have sometimes chosen songs that I’ve played before just to feel comfortable, but harder songs help you improve your technique, and that’s what Jazz did for me. You have to put in the work!