The melodies of the International Guitar Festival at RU return
They are coming from as far as China and Sweden and as close as Washington, D.C. and Memphis. They are the Beijing Duo, the Gothenburg Combo, Marija Temo and Paul Masinelli. All are world-class guitarists, performers and teachers and they will be in the New River Valley for the 13th Annual Radford University Guitar Festival.
This yearly event, overseen by festival director and RU Professor of Music Robert Trent, includes two days of concerts, food and learning experiences. The latter provides the public with opportunities to experience master classes, where RU students have previously auditioned for the privilege to be taught guitar techniques by festival performers.
"A goal is to bring world class performers who are also world class teachers who can effectively communicate, excite and move our campus constituency and the larger community," Trent says about why each performer or duo was invited to participate in the festival.
The Beijing Duo features two young Chinese virtuosi who are currently studying at Trent’s alma mater, the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.
The duo has won several competitions including the Solomon H. Snyder Award, which underwrites the New York debut of select exceptionally talented students. During the RU festival they will perform the new music of Chinese composer Tan Dun as well as Scarlatti and other classics for two guitars.
The young Swedish duo, The Gothenburg Combo, was booked after Trent heard them perform at the Festival Internacional de Cuidad México.
Trent describes this musical choice, "Because they perform mesmerizing medleys of Michael Jackson and the Swedish band ABBA as well as modern repertoire, I knew that I wanted to book them to follow the youth/community orchestra at noon on Saturday and am labeling their concert a "Family Concert.'"
Marija Temo, who currently resides in D.C., is a former faculty member of the Preparatory of the Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University, where she founded the Flamenco Guitar Program. She will perform and lead a workshop in Flamenco.
A festival tradition, alumni are often invited to participate in the festival. This year Paul Masinelli returns to RU. He is a singer, songwriter and performer based in Memphis.
Also on the bill is a concert by the Youth/Community Guitar Orchestra. This encompasses very young Suzuki students ranging from age 6 to middle and high school students, RU students and adults from the community. Their only rehearsal as a group is an hour before the performance and takes place in front of the public.
Since starting the festival in 2001, Trent has seen the festival grow. From having two artists perform and do master classes for just RU students, it has become more inclusive and exposes students and the community to some of the best performers in the world.
As Trent concludes, “It should demonstrate the range of guitar and guitar-related instrumental performance (solo, ensemble, Lute, Flamenco, Venezuelan Cuatro), repertoire and teaching, and make all of this available to the community of southwestern Virginia. I’m proud to say that we regularly have visitors from New York state to South Carolina!”
The Festival starts at 6 p.m. Friday, April 4, and continues throughout Saturday, April 5. All events are in the Performance Hall of the Covington Center. Admission is free. To view the schedule and event information, please visit the Guitar Festival Website.
For more information, call the RU Department of Music at (540) 831-5177.