GFA 2009

Chris and I were honoured this year to be invited to perform at the GFA Convention held in Ithaca NY. The Guitar Foundation of America have firmly put themselves on the musical-map, organising one of the largest classical guitar events in the World. Having never been to a GFA convention before we had little idea of what to expect, but we had already been impressed with the artistic line-up so we knew it would be a thrilling event!

GFA 2009 didn’t disappoint! From the first evening’s concert we were treated to a feast of artistry from all those who performed. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get to every concert, talk, award, or lecture, as Chris and I were kept busy with our own concert preparations, teaching, competition jury duty, and our lectures, so I’m not going to attempt to write up on individuals – just to say that the many I did hear were fantastic, and those I missed were also being enthusiastically talked about!

The performers included Eduardo Isaac, Roberto Aussel, Eden Stell Duo, Andrew York, Pablo Cohen, Tantalus Quartet, Newman Oltman Duo, Ismo Eskelinen, Elena Papandreou, Marco Pereira, Lynn McGrath, Adam Del Monte, Gabriel Bianco, and the bandoneón legend Daniel Binelli, and finally the International Competition final.

The lecture line-up looked just as impressive with the likes of Angelo Gilardino, Thomas Heck, Jason Vieaux, Andrew Dickenson, and composer Roberto Sierra, to name just a few, talking on topics as diverse as tone production to teaching Classical in a Rock World!

Martha Masters spoke briefly with me about how the GFA is building on the success of the convention by offering individual lessons for the first time this year, much like a regular guitar festival, but also continuing the huge line-up of concerts, talks/lectures, vendor fair, luthiers showcase, and the famous solo guitar competitions.

The GFA paid homage in a GFA Hall of Fame awards ceremony to key figures in the guitar world who included Oscar Ghiglia, Angelo Gilardino, Jim & John D’Addario, Jeffery Cogan, and a tribute to the New York guitar maker Thomas Humphrey.

The Youth Show Case concert was a GFA event close to our hearts, especially with WYGF looming on our own horizon in August. We met up with the Levine Guitar Orchestra and their MD, Risa Carlson, and we hope to encourage these young player to the World Youth Guitar Festival some time soon.

The GFA Youth Competition was of the highest standard, and Chris and I had to go back to our rooms to re-evaluate our own guitar techniques after witnessing some incredible performances and artistry from those youngsters.

Amongst all this we still found time to meet up with old friends, and make some newer ones. If this post has whetted your appetite then next year’s GFA Convention and Competition is from 22-27 June, Austin, Texas.

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