SAN BENITO — Simon Macias wore a persistent smile as he held the guitar, the instrument exuding a gentle strength which sought release through his hands.

The notes rose from the strings as his fingers, trained for years to cast that spell of release, awakened the music from its dormancy. His guitar’s voice joined others which had been roused by Simon’s fellow Classical Guitar Ensemble players.

“I like all of this,” said Simon, a junior at San Benito High School.

“This is all I play, which is with the Classical Guitar Ensemble and the Flamenco Ensemble,” said Simon, 17.

He and the other guitar players were practicing for the UIL State Solo and Ensemble competition in Austin at the end of May. A total of 26 guitar students will compete in the solo and ensemble event.

The Classical Guitar Ensemble did very well at the regional UIL meet in March, scoring a one.

The young musicians seemed at one moment to connect with other players as they practiced and then withdrew to focus closely on their individual techniques. The notes seemed to rise slowly and then descend into a dream. Each string, there were so many of them, gave up pieces of sound like a complex tapestry.

In the midst of these separate, spontaneous musical lines rose an incantation which conjured images of Spaniards on horseback riding across rolling hillsides past homes with terracotta tiles on pitched roofs. The smell of paella and saffron rice drifted from windows with iron grillwork on homes bleached white, and wide entranceways with heavy wooden doors covered with elegant carving.

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