Winchester Guitar Festival 25-27 July 2008

Winchester Guitar Festival 2008 (WGF) is now in its fourth year, and it was our largest festival to date.  The 3-day festival (25-27 July 2008) brings together classical guitarists of all abilities, from 12 years old upwards, to experience collective music making in a fun and informal way.

The main focus is on the guitar in ensemble with every student participating in the festival guitar orchestra. These rehearsal sessions provide valuable encouragement for players, with parts graded to ability, but are also extremely beneficial for general musicianship, sight-reading and rhythmical playing. Many guitarists, as soloists, struggle to experience this sort of discipline and WGF provides a creative and supportive environment in which to do so.

In addition to the festival guitar orchestra, students received individual coaching sessions, masterclasses with this year’s fabulous guest artists Johannes Möller (SWE) and Winy Kellner (MEX), a technique class and a musically illustrated lecture on Fernando Sor’s Patriotic Songs from Brian Jeffery of Tecla Editions.

Sor patriotic songs

This year’s WGF concert series moved to a new venue, the Winchester Discovery Centre, and our opening concert was given by the Nocturne Guitar Quartet. Freshly graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire, the quartet received a warm welcome in more than one respect as the air conditioning was out of action.

Our first evening recital was given by Winy Kellner (YouTube), whose subtle and eloquent performance charmed the audience.

He was followed on Saturday evening by Johannes Möller who was stunned the audience with his electrifying virtuosity.

WGF08 was delighted to host the National Youth Guitar Ensemble during the festival, celebrating the launch of their new CD, ‘Festive Fizz’ (which was recorded at our sister festival WYGF07) with a short recital on the final afternoon. This CD is a joint project with the Western Australian ensemble “Guitarstrophe!” who do a rather good line in guitar choreography during their performances. We had a lot of fun recording with both groups last year and Eden Stell guest on the CD performing Gerald Garcia’s “Lorca Concerto” with NYGE and Richard Charlton’s “Rhapsody” with Guitarstrophe!.

Run in conjunction with WGF is an outreach workshop programme which this year visited elderly residential care homes with a strong provision for Alzheimer’s and Dementia care. Music’s therapeutic qualities is proven beyond doubt, but is particularly relevant to this client group where responses can be stimulated and long-term memories accessed. Three local venues were involved in the project and were lucky enough to have the rather superb mezzo Susan Legg accompanied by Helen Sanderson on guitar.

As always there was time to relax and socialise in the bar back at the University of Winchester, West Downs Centre where the course was hosted.  This gave the students, and performers a well deserved chance to wind-down after a long day of masterclasses, ensemble rehearsals, and concerts, and have a chat with each other, and the artists.

Mark Eden & Christopher Stell – WGF Artistic Directors

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