Durham College (DC) president Don Lovisa is stirring up social media interest with the latest celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary.50 DC students, staff and alumni strummed their guitars in unison on the staircase inside the Student Services Building, where the video was shot.
50 DC students, staff and alumni strummed their guitars in unison on the staircase inside the Student Services Building, where the video was shot.
Dubbed ‘50 Guitars for 50 Years’, the event was planned earlier this year, with the finished project at almost 800 views on YouTube.
“I was just sitting somewhere someday,” Lovisa says, “plunking away at my guitar and I thought ‘you know, it would be kind of cool if we got 50 guitar players together to celebrate 50 years’, so I threw it out to my staff.”
The next step was picking a selection of songs that would not only represent the school well, but also garner an interest online.
Suzanne Chasse, who sings in a staff band in which Lovisa plays guitar, brought forward an original song by local musician and DC employee Justin Lant.
“She gave it to me and said ‘here, listen to this’,” says Lovisa. “It’s a great song. It takes some of our values and our mission and all that and puts it into a song.”
On top of performing with local band 20 Amp Soundchild, Lant also helps run the grounds department at DC. He says the whole experience is just a step outside the norm.
“I’ve done this a lot,” he says, “been doing music for a while so I’m more comfortable here than outside.”
“[It’s] especially weird since I’m usually here cutting down trees and stuff,” he says, “not exactly playing guitar or writing songs for the school.”
Once they secured Lant’s song A Lesson Learned in Time, Lovisa says the planning committee wanted a second song that is recognizable, but easy for guitarists of all skill levels.
“We thought ‘well, Ahead by A Century, a half century in our case,” Lovisa says. “It’s just a good, positive song and easy to play.”
Armed with an original song and a Canadian classic, Lovisa and staff sent out a note calling for students, staff and alumni with any level of skill with the guitar to express an interest in taking part.
“I was really excited about the opportunity,” says Ashley Paddenburg, one of the students who signed up. “Student life can be very busy but the idea of getting together with this many musicians on campus was super exciting to me.”
When Paddenburg and the other guitarists arrived in the SSB, there was a buzz of excitement in the air.
“Even though we’ve never met each other there’s so much community,” she says, “sharing our tuners and things, talking about our guitars.”
Together the guitarists played through each song twice, before recording a third run for the published video.