By: Jesse Mazzoccoli
We now give you my long, overdue review of Middle Tennessee State University’s Tennessee Guitar Festival 2011, hosted by Dr. William Yelverton on June 1st-4th, 2011. I know these things are supposed to come out right after the event happens, so my apologies for that. The only excuse I have is that I’ve been on two continents, 13 different states (11 U.S. and two Brazilian), and have traveled almost the distance of the circumference of our planet since then. I won’t apologize for that, though. I had a blast!
First of all, the format of the festival was outstanding: youth and open guitar competitions, workshops, and master classes by day with an all-star cast of performers and educators, and concerts by night from the same all-star cast. Then, after the shows, there was a party at Dr. Yelverton’s house every night. And let me tell you, these folks know how to par-tay!
This all-star cast included Roger Hudson, who, with the exception of Take Five, played an all original set, which was one of the highlights of the entire festival. What a great way to kick off the weekend! If you are a fan of a classical, jazz, fingerstyle hybrid, definitely check out Delta or any of Roger’s other CDs.
University of Miami Frost School of Music associate professor, Rene Gonzalez dazzled with a collage of brilliance that included Sagreras, Falu, Tucci, and Piazzolla. Jose Lezcano, whose achievements and credentials include two Grammy nominations, played a combination of stunning originals and works by Napoleon Coste and Celedonio Romero, to name a few. Hudson, Gonzalez, and Lezcano: all of this on day one!
Day two started with the first rounds of the Youth and Open Competitions, which were almost as equally impressive as the concert the night before.
The concert for that evening was by the virtuosic genius of Matt Palmer. Palmer was GI’s 2010 Recipient of the “Up and Coming Guitarist of the Year,” and he has been a rising star ever since. Winner of numerous guitar competitions, Palmer recently published The Virtuoso Guitarist method book that outlines his techniques of lightning-speed scale passages using A-M-I right hand picking. I definitely recommend this book if you want to shred nylon!
Early in day three, the Youth Competition Finals were held. Congratulations to all that participated. The results were:
$300 First Prize – Sojourner McClure
$200 Second Prize – Veronica Eres
$100 Third Prize – Meade Forsythe
Day three’s concert was by Grammy winner, William Kanengiser. It was a great pleasure watching him play his guitar and work the crowd. He is one of those performers that you can tell LOVES what he does within the first five seconds of watching him. His interpretations of Giuliani, Sor, Brouwer, and Bartok were exquisite. He played a handful of pieces by contemporary composers such as Dusan Bogdanovic, Bryan Johanson, Fred Hand, and Brian Head. His performance and stage antics were Grammy-worthy that evening!
Master classes by Matt Palmer and William Kanengiser were brilliantly insightful. Their versatility and vision helping students, both young and seasoned veterans alike, was a great pleasure to watch. The finale of day four was the Open Competition Finals. Again, congratulations to all of the participants and winners. These are the guys to be looking for in the near future:
Tennessee Guitar Festival Open Competition:
$1500 First Prize – Edel Munoz
$750 Second Prize – Jeremy Collins
$500 Third Prize – Erol Ozsever
$300 Fourth Prize – Joseph Palmer
The Tennessee Guitar Festival 2011 was one of the best festivals I’ve seen this year. I hope to return next year, and you should, too!
A special thanks to everyone that I shared laughs with, and especially Bill Yelverton for welcoming me into your home and treating me as one of your own. I had a blast, and you are definitely a great host!