Spotlight On: Gregg Hartvigsen

Professor of biology Gregg Hartvigsen’s work at Geneseo involves much more than teaching upper-level science courses. A musician in his spare time, Hartvigsen serves as faculty adviser for Guitar Club.

Hartvigsen started Guitar Club with one of his students five years ago. The idea for the club arose when his student noticed that Hartvigsen had a guitar in his office, and the two began chatting about music.

According to Hartvigsen, it’s a very laid-back organization, with people coming and going week to week, although members do get opportunities to play venues around campus.

Hartvigsen played saxophone and clarinet in high school and picked up guitar his senior year.

“I was kind of working toward a career in [classical] music, and then I discovered that I like singing and playing guitar much more,” Hartvigsen said. “I declined an opportunity to go to a school of music. Instead, I went to college and played at bars and ran a coffeehouse in college and stuff like that.”

His career in music went as far as being offered a year-long job as a performer at a large and well-frequented bar in Denver, Colo. Having dropped out of college, Harvigsen declined the position so he could return to school.

Despite his long history as a musician, Hartvigsen said that playing in public is terrifying, and his latest performances have been limited to open mic gigs around Main Street. He also played a half-hour set at Sprucestock this year.

“For me personally, guitar is more of a musical accompaniment to singing,” Hartvigsen said. “For my main focus, I just really like singing. The stuff I do ranges from George Benson upbeat stuff down to Simon & Garfunkel sort of stuff – finger picking and strumming.”

According to Hartvigsen, it’s difficult for artists to say if any of their own performances went well, even when people clap at the end of a song. The most bizarre gig he’s played was at a sale at a women’s clothing store in Mystic, Conn. during a snowstorm.

“Not a single person came in. They were just empty except the women’s clothes,” Hartvigsen said. “Which was nice; the clothes were beautiful … [but] they didn’t have people in them. The downside is sometimes you just have to play to empty rooms.”u