URI Guitar Festival returns with a fully hybrid slate, an international program highlighting four virtuoso guitarists – URI News



KINGSTON, RI – September 23, 2021 – The sixth annual University of Rhode Island Guitar Festival and Rising Stars Contest is preparing a guitar case full of surprises for its return to the Kingston campus from the 14th to the 17th October – a fully hybrid program, two additional days of music and an international program of musicians that highlights four virtuoso guitarists.

Last year, the festival moved its planned spring festival to fall due to the pandemic and featured three days of fully virtual events. But this year the festival is entirely live and entirely virtual. Festival-goers can thus choose their mode of participation in the daily program of concerts, master classes, workshops and conferences.

“It’s really hybrid,” said Adam Levin, URI classical guitar teacher and artistic director of the festival. “This allows maximum accessibility. If you feel uncomfortable participating in person, the virtual format is available to you. If you’ve had enough of the virtual format and can’t wait to return to these venues, we offer every concert, master class and lecture in person.

King Khaki

The URI Guitar Festival, which Levin started hosting in 2015 as a one-day event, is upgrading to four days this year – in fact, five days. For the first time, the festival will feature a bonus all-star concert on Monday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Church, 15 Lower College Road. That day, the musicians will rehearse and record an album, “Sessions”, in St. Augustine’s prior to the night’s performance. The album will be released in spring 2022 on Frameworks Records. Tickets for all concerts, including the bonus show, cost $ 20 for general admission and $ 10 for students and can be purchased on the festival website.

“This is basically the analogue of the plucked string instrument from Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble,” Levin said of the concert’s “supergroup”. “We will bring the musicians together and play, in the spirit of improvisation, traditional works from Irish, Jewish and Chinese traditions.

Gohar Vardanyan

This year’s lineup includes musicians from countries such as Poland, Israel, Romania, Cuba, Iran, Australia, Belgium, Armenia, Brazil and South Africa, presenting a wide variety genres and styles of music. “We still have an international touch, but this year seems to be supercharged by DNA from many different nationalities,” Levin said.

Headlining are four great guitarists – Kaki King, Badi Assad, Gohar Vardanyan and Katarzyna Smolarek.

“These are four great guitarists,” Levin said. “The guitar, unfortunately, has been a man-centered world. In organizing the festival, I wanted to highlight the dynamic and impressive female virtuosos of our time.

American guitarist King is already considered one of the greatest living guitarists in the world and has been called a “genre in its own right” by Rolling Stone. In addition to releasing nine albums, she has created music for numerous movies and TV shows, including “August Rush” and “Into the Wild”.

Assad, a singer and guitarist who infuses her native Brazilian music with pop, jazz and world sounds, has recorded over a dozen albums and is the sister of renowned guitarists Odair and Sergio Assad.

Armenian guitarist Vardanyan, known for her technique, artistry and passionate performances, has performed in the United States and abroad. And, Smolarek from Poland, winner of the festival’s 2020 Rising Stars Young Artist Competition, has won more than 20 awards in national and international competitions.

On Thursday, October 14, Smolarek opens the festival with a pre-recorded virtual performance due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. She is followed by Duo Mantar – Levin and Israeli mandolinist Jacob Reuven – at Pump House Music Works, 1464 Kingstown Road, Wakefield. Levin and Reuven will perform music from their chart-topping debut album “Music From the Promised Land” as well as a world premiere arrangement of “Fall and Winter” by composer Astor Piazzolla, based on “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi . The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

On Friday evening, October 15, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Augustine’s, Australian-American guitarist Scott Borg will perform his transcription of “Carmina Burana”, a cantata composed in 1935 and 1936 by Carl Orff based on the 24 poems from the medieval collection of the same name. Borg will be followed by the Maharajah Flamenco Trio, whose performance will be steeped in Spanish flamenco music.

“It will be a landmark event. The “Carmina Burana” is one of the great cantatas of all time, ”said Levin. “Borg translated this magnificent and enormous orchestral work for the eight-string guitar. My mind is melting as I think of this technical feat and the creative ways he made it possible on the guitar. “

On Saturday October 16, Armenian guitarist Vardanyan and Belgian guitarist Jérôme Mouffe will perform at 4 pm in St. Augustine. That night, David Veslocki will lead a group comprising bassist Ike Sturm, percussionist Richie Barshay, beatboxer Mark Martin and singer Mike Minelli playing jazz, flamenco, R&B and electronics. At the end of the exhibition, Assad will present a collection of Brazilian works with American guitarist Matthew Rohde. The nightly show begins at 7 a.m. at the URI Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road.

On Sunday, October 17, the festival finale kicks off with the annual free concert of Rhode Island artists at 3 p.m. in St. Augustine’s. The show features the Providence Mandolin Orchestra, the New England Guitar Orchestra, the URI Guitar Ensemble, members of the Rhode Island Music Educators Association All-State Guitar Ensemble, and the Connecticut Suzuki Academy Guitar Ensemble.

King, known for her punchy playing style and jazz-related melodies, conducts Sunday night’s show in the concert hall of the Fine Arts Center. South African guitarist Derek Gripper and cellist Mike Block, who performed with the Silk Road Ensemble, open the show at 7 p.m. with “music from their recent album spontaneously recorded one afternoon,” Levin said.

In addition to concerts, the festival includes its traditional programming of master classes, lectures and workshops at the Palais des Beaux-Arts, as well as CD signings and opportunities to meet the performers. Ticket packages range from the virtual or in-person active participant, which includes two master classes and all festival events, to a four-day auditor pass, which allows customers to audit master classes and attend concerts and at conferences. There are also day passes and tickets for each concert.

Conference topics include guitar arrangement with Gregg Nestor; navigating the concert economy with Jim Perona; and musical life during and after COVID-19, a round table with festival artists, moderated by Victor Main.

The festival’s Rising Stars program will crown the winners in two categories of its juried guitar competition: the Young Artist Division (guitarists 18 and over) and the Youth Division (12-18). The deadline for submitting a live performance video of less than 10 minutes is October 8. To view the contest requirements, entry fees and prizes, visit the Rising Stars program webpage.

Along with the URI Music Department, the URI Guitar Festival is sponsored by The Augustine Foundation, Wakefield Music, Guitar Salon International, Johnson String Instrument, Pump House Music Works, Your Heaven Audio, Holiday Inn, Kenny Hill, Alhambra Guitars, What’s Up Rhode Island, Augustine Strings, Rhode Island Guitar Guild, Strings By Mail, Classical Guitar Magazine, Coast HVAC, G7 Capos and Tonebase, Xguitars, Sugar Loaf Hill B&B, Sheppards’ Place B&B, The Atlantic House Hotel, The Anchor Motel and the Aqua Blue hotel.


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