By Anne Vanderson
As soon as Robert Gruca started to play his guitar on Feb. 14 as part of the GRCC International Guitar Series, the audience became enchanted by the emotion he put into his extraordinary performance.
When the music would halt, whispers of praise could be heard throughout the audience about the music of Handel and Bellini he played in an unconventional manner. This led to the two encores he received post-performance.
Gruca said when he was in high school, he heard a teacher during a recital who knew Brian Morris, one of Gruca’s most influential teachers from Grand Valley State University.
Morris now works at GRCC on the Music staff. When asked about Morris’ influence on him coming to GRCC, Gruca said, “Yes, he’s usually at my performances. This is the third time I’ve been back to perform.”
As a professional guitarist, Gruca “teaches a lot and practices.”
“It is a balance of performing and marketing,” said Gruca. “I used to have an agent, but now my wife and I do our own marketing, which takes time. So, I’m a teacher, businessperson and performer.”
It takes time to hone a skill. For Gruca, he improves both his daily performance as well as his stage performance by “practicing a few hours everyday, maintaining a repertoire and learning new stuff. Degree of older music to help keep it alive, not to just go through the motions of playing, but play as much as you can. Because I only play 8-15 concerts, it’s hard to get momentum, but pieces need to be played and improve with them, as well as add new pieces in when you can.”